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The Grass is Always Greener Disease
A Powerful Illustration on Contentment
Man's Search for Meaning
So many people have the "grass is always greener on the other side of the fence disease." They look at the life that God has given them and aren't grateful. Rather they continually search for something else to make them happy, thinking that it is somewhere "out there". Such people continually compare themselves with others and think that what their neighbor has must be better. They see the lives of other people as more beautiful, more fulfilling and desirable than their own. Rather than live their own life to it's fullest, they sit around and envy the life that their neighbor has been given.
These people are never satisfied. They see their neighbor's job as more prestigious, their neighbor's marriage as more exciting and fulfilling and their neighbor's children more well behaved and following a better success path than their own children.
I. There Are No Perfect Lawns
The sad thing about the "grass is always greener syndrome" is that the person afflicted by it seems totally unaware that everyone's lawn has some crabgrass that needs to be eliminated. There are no perfect lives. I think of the verse in the book of Job that tells us: "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). Everyone has problems no matter how good their life seems to be. And trading your life for another person's just gets you their set of problems.
II. Our Desire to Improve Should be in Accordance with God's Will
It is not that we shouldn't seek to better ourselves in life if we can. Dreams are given to us by God to accomplish His glory in this world. For instance, if we are seeking a better marriage with our spouse, this will glorify God in many ways. He wants us to have a good marriage. Not just because it will be good for us and make us happy, but also it is for stability for the children He has given us, who need to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And beyond that, stable families make stable communities and cultures through which the glory and grace of God can shine.
However, we mustn't think that getting better or having more will make us any more happy, if we aren't already content with the life God has given us in the present. Contentment cannot be sought apart from knowing and following God and His will for our lives.
III. Happiness and Contentment are Not Found in the World System
Serving God and bringing Him glory should be the greatest source of happiness and contentment in our lives. Those who think differently should read the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon had all that this world could afford, and his conclusion about it was: "Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Some, however, think that happiness is found in great riches. Paul talks to Timothy about being content with what one has when he warns him about those who seek worldly wealth for it's own sake, and even see godliness as a way to obtain more gain. He says:
"But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all (kinds of) evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (I Timothy 6:6-11).
The world system, however, would tell us differently. Money is among the top things they would tell you to seek to be happy and fulfilled. Fame and power are the other two. But money cannot buy happiness, any more than anything else this world has to offer. At best they are bandages covering a gaping wound. There is indeed a God-shaped void that only He can fill.
When it comes right down to it, if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, then that person who owns that grass has been watering and fertilizing it to make it that way. And he has been putting on the weed killer for the crabgrass as well as doing something to get rid of the grubs that eat away at the roots.
But if we would stop worrying so much about him and think more about the grass that God has given to us, then ours will flourish as well. God has given each of us unique lives by His grace and mercy. And if we are Christians, He has placed us in the Body of Christ, the Church. All of us have a unique role to perform, and none of us is worthless. So let us stop looking at the grass next door. It isn't ours. May we instead thank God for what He has given and go to work to make the most of the gift of life we have received.
© 2014 Jeff Shirley