Are there circumstances in your life which provide many opportunities for grumbling, complaining, bitterness, or anger? If so, then Bridges’ focus on the sin of discontentment may be helpful to you. He begins by suggesting that there is a place in the Christian life for “legitimate discontentment.” This type of discontentment might be directed at needed areas of personal growth or at prevailing sources of injustice and evil in society. I think that it is important to make this distinction. The Christian belief in the sovereignty of God over all things does not require God’s people to passively accept whatever happens. I would argue the opposite. Because we believe that Jesus is Lord, then we should work for positive change in our personal lives and in the culture around us. There remains, however, a variety of discontent with our circumstances which “negatively affects our relationship with God.”
Think about our present situation concerning COVID-19. There are plenty of reasons for Christians to be active at this time. We all need to take precautions to protect the health of ourselves and others. There are people in unique seasons of need, and we should be prepared to help them and speak to them about Jesus. If we conclude that acts of injustice are being performed, then it is right for us to identify and speak out against these acts. And yet, we need to do these things with balance and care. God is in control. He has purposes and plans which he is working out in the midst of this season. He has blessings for his people that exist because of this virus. If we believe in and rely upon God’s providence, then we should be seeking what the Lord has for us in this time and refusing to live with sinful discontentment and related anger and bitterness.
Bridges helps us to see that we so commonly live with discontentment, complaining about various things in our lives, that it is difficult to even think of this as sin. As he does in the case of anxiety, Bridges asks us to turn our attention to Psalm 139. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (v. 16 ESV). Or again: “For you formed by inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (v. 13 ESV). From these verses, we see that God attends to both our days and our bodies. And if God is doing this, shouldn’t we consider the possibility that God has special blessing for us in whatever circumstances we are facing?
In what ways – either personal or societal – do you experience legitimate discontentment? When considering discontent as a sin, when do you find yourself most likely to grumble or complain? Ask a friend or a family member to help you identify things that lead you to discontentment. Ask God to help you see that he is sovereign over even these things.