Finding God's Winning Spirit

The "Curse of Discontentment"

February 14, 2014 | Greg Smith | Christianity

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I've written a couple of books (one of which is still in my desk drawer) and in both of these books I pose the question, “What was man's first sin”. It is a heady question with potential answers like pride, greed, control, and unfaith to mention a few. In both these publications I go into some detail defining each word attempting to determine where Adam’s free choice and self-centeredness ran amuck. Of all these choices I have always gravitated toward unfaith as Adam’s original sin. I have since changed my mind.

Last year I was seeing a client who came to me because she was struggling with clinical depression. When I ask her if this had been a long-term condition she responded by saying that she had always been plagued by the “curse of discontentment.   The more we talked about this feeling (I say feeling because discontentment certainly is not a diagnosis or clinical condition) the more I began to understand how debilitating it was, and moreover, how common it was for many of my clients in general. No one had verbalized this in such a way before – this gave me pause.

As a Christian counselor, or a clinical theologian, I believe a lot of our emotional, psychiatric or mental-health problems originate from our fallen nature i.e. Adam's original sin.  It has occurred to me that it was only after the fall that Adam felt fear, guilt, shame and the other negative feelings he felt while hiding from God. Due to this original sin (caused by pride, greed, control or unfaith, etc.) not only was his relationship with God changed, mankind was open to the negative emotions brought on by this separation from the Father.

I've always told my clients that the good thing about feelings like shame, guilt, fear, isolation etc. is that they can be used to tell us that we have once again separated ourselves from God – a result of Adam’s original sin. The good news is that we have the opportunity to take a negative and turn it into a positive. For example, although we might have pain in our knee which is bad – it is also good because this pain tells us that we need to see an orthopedic guy. Likewise, if we have a fever we need to see our family physician.

Two thoughts came to mind as I was confronted with this new term "curse of discontentment".  First, I thought about how devastating discontentment can be to our everyday quality of life. One can imagine how hopeless and depressing life would be if everything we attempted, accomplished and pursued in life was tarnished by feelings of emptiness and failure. Never being satisfied or achieving a sense of purpose and value can certainly cloud one’s view of life.

My second thought was that this could well have been man’s original sin. At some point Adam was discontented with his position/relationship in the world and with God. He wanted more. When Adam (and you and I) start thinking we are bigger than we are and that we know more than God, trouble soon follows. I do not know which came first, Adam’s discontentment or his self-centeredness but one thing is for sure, they are connected.

We all have a choice, as did Adam, as to how we view life and what we tell ourselves will fulfill us and make us whole.  We determine what we pursue and put our talents and energy toward. Simply put, discontentment comes from our pursuit of the wrong things for the wrong reasons from wrong places. In Hebrews 13:5 we read “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Matthew tells us, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:33).

Those individuals (Christian or non-Christian) who describe themselves as being “glass half-empty” people can now simply refer to themselves as being cursed by discontentment. My concern is that is how Adam would have described himself!

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