Discontent…good or bad?
Is restlessness/discontentment good or bad? Did an answer pop into your head right away? If you are like me the answer went something like this “good duh! If no one was ever discontent then nothing would ever get done.” I thought this was what everyone thought until the question came up on night one of our new Bible study, “Restless”.
When I discovered this book, a year and a bit ago I think it was, I heard the title and immediately knew this was the book for me, I am always restless, I had already written at least one post titled “Restless” so I bought it (on kindle because I was too impatient to wait for the next day when stores would be open and definitely too impatient to wait for shipping)
Restless is probably one of the words I would use to describe my personality actually, I bore easily, I like to inspire change or new ideas and if I am not able to do that I get itchy and discontent.
So when my friend challenged this idea I may have lost a bit of sleep.
I think it is pretty obvious that the answer is good and bad depending on the discontent, so how do we know which is which?
When I think of discontent (in the context of being restless) I think of not being content to sit and watch your life go by. I think of not being content to watch the people around you go through life and even die not knowing the Lord. I think of not being content to live a life of lukewarm Christianity or watching others around us do the same. I think of not being content to let atrocities happen and remain quiet or do nothing. I think of no being content to gain worldly wealth live a comfortable life while around me and around the world millions live in poverty physically and spiritually.
That is Holy discontent. It leads to action, it causes us to leave our comfort zones and reach out to our neighbours, near and far. It causes us to obey the words of Christ and care for the orphans and widows and least of these, and to go and make disciples. This kind of discontent knows how richly I have been blessed and needs to share that with everyone.
It looks different in different people. For some it means leaving this lifestyle and going somewhere else as a relief worker, teacher, missionary, medical help, pastor, or something like that. For most it means quietly living a faithful life right here, discipling one person at a time, being a light to neighbours and coworkers, or maybe even just raising your own children to love and serve the Lord. Either way it is choosing to not be idle and sit passively watching life go by.
Then there is the other discontent. The kind that always wants more than they have. The kind that is grumpy and selfish doesn’t see the ways they have already been blessed. This kind of discontent doesn’t inspire change. It breeds lust and covetousness. It sits around and whines about how unfair life is. This is the person who is content to live a life for myself and my comforts and pleasure. This is the discontent that is content to be lukewarm and doesn’t want to be about people who are not lukewarm as well.