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About this series
Taught by Chip's son, Ryan Ingram, Relational Intelligence gives us a clear understanding of what it takes to develop intimate, life-giving, character-shaping relationships where people share a rugged commitment to one another for the long-haul. Ryan exposes the flaws in relational thinking that result in broken, disillusioned lives. He provides alternative, biblical insight into how healthy, mature, and fun relationships can be nurtured and enjoyed.More from this series
You long and I long to know someone deeply and for them to know us significantly and fully. Where that it’s life-giving, like the friends where you’re just like, “Ahhh.” I’m around them and I know them and they just refresh my soul.
And not just that, but you want to be a better person. Like, they are character-shaping. And you know that they are going to be with you through thick or thin. It’s not a fair-weather friend, not a fair-weather marriage, but it has this rugged commitment.
And so, we asked the question: how in the world do we have those kinds of relationships? And so we said relational wisdom is the key. And that relational wisdom or intelligence is the skill of navigating life well.
That it’s not just the acquisition of knowledge and yet, wisdom is this skill, just like learning the skill of playing a guitar or shooting a basketball or swimming.
It is a skill. And so, it’s the proper application of the right knowledge. That there is this training and applying.
For some, this is where the rubber meets the road. And I was talking to a couple afterwards as we talked about the end of the series and they’re like, “It’s actually not the end of the series, it’s the beginning of the series, because now it’s time to apply it.” And I thought, What a great response. And it’s true.
You and I, we need to begin to apply the lessons that we have been learning about how to do relationships well. We started off with week one with this verse that said, in Proverbs, that there’s a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
There’s this way that appears to be right relationally, that appears to be right in how we go about our friendships, but in the end, it actually leads to death. It undermines the very relationships that we want. There’s a way that seems right, there’s a way that sounds right, there’s a way that even feels good, but in the end, and you know it and I know it, we have experienced it, it ultimately isn’t good for us.
And so, we are concluding with what I believe is the advice that has shipwrecked more marriages, destroyed more friendships, and this bit of advice, it actually has caused people to really undermine their very future, because this has even more implications not just relationally, but for decision making and all of life.
And the advice is: you deserve to be happy. Doesn’t that sound good? And we all go, “Yeah!” And some of you are like, “Ryan, don’t mess with this one.” Right? Please, okay, follow your heart, that was a hard feeling to swallow. Don’t mess with “you deserve to be happy,” because it sounds good! Its seems good. But is it really good for us?
Underneath that advice is this modern relational vision. It’s actually a new way of viewing all of relationships of the outcome or desire of what we want to see happen relationally. And the modern relational vision says this: your happiness is most important.
This is what we have bought into as a culture, that your happiness is most important. In fact, maybe let’s make it theological. Some of us would say it this way: God’s will for your life is to be happy. God wants me to be happy.
In fact, parents do this. If you ask a parent, “What do you want for your kid?” “All I want for my kid is to be,” what?
[“Happy.”] Thank you guys. I love that. Why? Because your happiness is most important.
Put it in the relational context, the purpose of relationships is personal happiness. The point of the marriage, the point of the friendship, the point of – what – dating is your personal happiness.
Now, let’s define happiness. Because the way we have defined happiness has shifted over the years. Actually, classically, the way you would define happiness, the way the ancients in Scripture would define it as well, but also just in classical thought had to do with this virtuous life.
It’s the well-lived life. It’s the one where you look back on life and you’re happy with it. Whereas when we define happiness today, it has to do with a deep sense of personal pleasure or satisfaction. It is this pleasurable satisfaction of the moment. And so, the purpose of relationships is this personal happiness. And so, you exist for my happiness. I’m dating you, I’m marrying you, I’m friends with you so that I will be happy.
Well, how do I be happy? Here’s our formula, if you will. When I get – and then you fill in the blank – then I’ll be happy. When I get. When I finally find the right person. When I finally fall in love. When I marry her or marry him, then I’ll be happy. And for some, you’re like, “When I’m not married to him and I’m not married to her, then I’ll be happy.”
When I get the right job, when I get out of this job, when I’m successful, when I finally own a home. And others who are owning a home, they’re like, “When I finally sell this home.” When I finally move out of the area. This area is crazy and it’s so insane and so, if we moved away, then I’ll be happy.
When I, when I build that lifestyle brand, like, when I can travel the world and live, have people live vicariously through my pictures and I don’t have to live through other people’s pictures, then I’ll be happy.
And so, then we give this bit of advice for people: do what makes you happy. If the purpose of relationships is personal happiness, if the most important thing is to be happy, then you should do whatever makes you happy, right?
If it feels good, do it. In fact, we ask this question, oh my goodness, and this question has shipwrecked more relationships: do they make you happy? She just doesn’t make me happy anymore. He doesn’t make me happy anymore. And if the most important thing is to be happy, well then, I need to do what makes me happy. Do they make me happy? No! The honeymoon stage wore off. Hm.
And we do this with our friends, right? I just need to surround myself with people who make me happy. Well, if your friends don’t make you happy anymore, then get new friends. And so, we come to this conclusion: If I am unhappy, something must be wrong.
Now, let me ask you this: why is it that happiness is so elusive? Why is it so fleeting? Why is it something that we are running after, we are pursuing, but we never quite get? And if we do get it, it just vanishes so quickly.
Maybe in the Silicon Valley, asked another way, why are our lives so full and yet we live such unfulfilled lives? I think there is a problem with happily ever after. We talk about it in the fairy tales and the myths of living happily ever after and it’s not just a fairy tale, it’s what we desire, whether it’s within marriage or friendships or in work. We want the happily ever after, don’t we? Like, I want the job that I work and it’s happily ever after. Do what you love, and you never work a day in your life. No. Well, I guess I don’t love this anymore, because it feels like work today.
The problem of happily ever after, Dr. Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and neurologist, many of you know him – a Holocaust survivor, famous writer. He said, “It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”
He says, “Pursuing happiness,” see, happiness isn’t the problem, it’s the pursuit of happiness that is the problem. Well, why does making happiness the end goal of your life a problem? Well, three things I want to highlight for us.
First, it tells us that difficult is bad. As someone once said, “No difficult ain’t bad, it’s just hard.” See, we have subtly begun to believe a lie that if anything is difficult, it is bad and to be avoided.
“Well, this is hard!” Well, listen to this. When happiness is our end goal, we will never sacrifice and without sacrifice, we will never do anything of significance. See, we begin to believe that delay, discomfort, risk, inconvenience, obstacles could not be the will of God. Because if God exists to make me happy and this is hard, it could not be His will.
Dr. Tim Elmore, talks about this in our current culture is because of the technology and the life we are living, we are beginning to believe some things. He says, “In an age of speed we have begun to believe that slow is bad. In an age of convenience, we have begun to believe that hard is bad. In an age of entertainment, we have started to believe boring is bad. And in an age of nurture, we’re believing that risk is bad. In an age of entitlement, we are believing that labor is bad.”
The problem of happily ever after is, first, it tells us that difficult is bad. That if I’m going through something hard, then I must get out of it. It must be wrong. And, yet, we will never do anything of significance or that is of worth if we don’t go through difficult to get there.
Secondly, it leaves us dissatisfied relationally. It leaves us dissatisfied relationally. This whole when/if thing. When I get here, then I’ll have this. The problem is is when you get that, it doesn’t fully satisfy, does it? In fact, I was talking with some friends that reached all their goals the other day.
You’re like, “Really?” Yeah. Mid-forties, this is what happens, especially with the high achievers. Financially, relationally, independent – met all their goals. And guess what, common thread: depression, dissatisfied, looking and longing for what is next.
See, we think if we just got that job, if we had this, if we were able to finally travel wherever you want, go wherever you want – newsflash! I just sat across from someone who can travel wherever he wants, anytime he wants, and he’s dissatisfied.
Philip Cushman talks about the empty self. I think it’s an accurate assessment of our culture today. He says, “The empty self is filled up with consumer goods, calories, experiences, politicians, romantic partners, and empathetic therapists. The empty self experiences a significant absence of community, tradition, and shared meaning, a lack of personal conviction and worth. And so, it embodies the absences as a chronic, undifferentiated, emotional hunger.
This absence is just this chronic hunger of the soul, never satisfied. The problem of happily ever after tells us difficult is bad. It leaves us dissatisfied relationally. And it creates a disillusionment with life, with others, with ourselves, and with God. It creates this disillusionment.
Now, think about this. If my purpose is to be happy and I am not happy, stay with me, something must be wrong with me. For many, you have believed that happiness is the most important thing, the purpose of life, the purpose of relationships is to be happy. And I’m not talking, I want to be clear, on the clinical side of things, but the widespread anxiety, the widespread angst that we are seeing amongst this generation, it has to do – it has to do, I think, with misplaced end goal of what life is all about.
If it’s all about being happy and I’m not happy, all of a sudden, this internal angst, something must be wrong with me. I must be broken. Think about it, parents, as we have said, “All I want for my kid is to be happy,” and that kid doesn’t feel happy, they feel like they have let their parents down, and then this weight that they feel underneath.
Well, if God exists to make me happy and I’m not happy, then God has let me down. And the problem with happily ever after is it creates a disillusionment, because it’s the wrong purpose or goal for our life.
J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler write in their book The Lost Virtue of Happiness, “If happiness is having an internal feeling of fun or pleasurable satisfaction and if it is our main goal, where will we place our focus all day long? The focus will be on us and the result will be a culture of self-absorbed individuals who can’t live for something larger than we are. As parents, we will then view our children as a means to our own happiness. Marriage, work, and even God Himself will exist as a means to make us happy. The entire universe will revolve around our internal pleasure and me.”
You deserve to be happy. And yet, in a culture of abundance, why is it so few are? Why is there such a restlessness and an angst in our souls? Could it be that we have the wrong end goal?
Now, happiness itself isn’t the problem. In fact, let me ask a better question for us. Not, “How do I make sure I’m happy in life?” I want to make sure I’m happy. I want to make sure I get mine. But listen to this: how do you make sure that you end up happy with your life? Have you ever thought about that?
Like, when you look back, maybe you’re sixty years old, some of you are like, “Will I ever be sixty?” Yes, you will. When you look back and you look at the decisions you have made, you look at the relationships you’ve had, you look at the life you lived, the character you have, and you would go, Wow, I am happy with my life.
There is a difference between pursuing happiness in life and looking back and truly being happy with your life. I call this the law of happiness. And Psalm 1 unpacks the law of happiness and how we are to go about our lives in such a way that when we look back, we’d go, Wow, I am so happy with my life. With the decisions I made, with the relationships I had, with the person I became.
If you’ve got your Bibles, would you open up to Psalm 1? We’ll pick it up in verse 1. It begins this way, the author says, “Blessed,” underline that word blessed, “is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.”
He begins this psalm, the very first psalm of the psalms. Psalm 1. It’s a wisdom psalm. And it’s going to teach us about how to live life well. And he says: you want to know about how to live life well? He starts off with happy. Blessed. Right? No, that’s the word “blessed,” Ryan. Actually, in the Hebrew, there’s a very specific word for blessed. This is not it. This word means happy.
In fact, right up above it, “happy.” The psalm says this, “Happy.” Happy are those. You want to be happy, you want to look back and be happy with your life? I’m going to share the law of happiness, how you go about this, so that you can look back ten years, twenty years, thirty years from now and go, Oh man, I’m so happy. Yeah, it was hard in the moment. I’m so glad we did it. See, that’s the type of life, the happy life.
He says, “Happy,” now notice this, “is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked.” And you circle that word wicked. Now, when we think of wicked, we think about the worst people on the planet, right? You’re like, the wicked? And you can just, kind of like, have a few different people from history maybe show up in your mind that are wicked and you’re like, okay, that’s wicked. So, I don’t really have friends that are wicked.
Let me define wicked for you. The wicked are those who live as if there is no God, biblically. The wicked are those that live as they are the very center of the universe; life is all about them and they live for now.
See, I would say there’s a lot of people who call themselves Christian who live as if there is no God, that they believe they are the center of the universe, at least they act that way. And they live for now, not recognizing that there is eternity.
See, what he’s saying is: happy, like truly deep, resonant happy people are ones who do not live as if they are the center of the universe, as if there is no God, as if now is all there is.
“Blessed,” or, “happy are the ones who do not walk, stand, and sit.” See, I think many of us start out in life with great intentions. Right? Maybe you’re just getting done with college and you have this vision and maybe you had a moment with God and you’re like, Man, God, I want to give You my whole life. I want to run passionately after You. I’m going to date someone that I believe we are better together. I’m going to honor You in my relationships here. I’m, man, when I get into the business world, I’m going to – I know You have made me to make an impact with my life. And then simply start to get caught up where we’re just not really paying attention. Maybe started out with good intentions but then we’re just kind of walking along going, I never intended to walk this way, but it’s just where the crowd was going. And I just began to walk and be carried away. And then I found that I was standing, I was lingering. And then I just found that I just sat down. Kind of gave up. And this is just how life is, in fact, I don’t know if there is any other way to live.
And he says happy people don’t get caught up there. Happy people are the ones who say, “No, no, no. I am not the center of the universe. It’s not all about me. Now is not all there is. In fact, I was created for a grander, larger purpose by God Himself and so I am going to orient my life around God.”
Notice what he says next. He says, “Blessed are those who do not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way the sinners take, or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight,” ahh, “is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on His law day and night.”
He says happy people, happy is the person who delights in God. You’re like, you just delight in Him. And it makes sense, by the way. It’s so logical. If you believe there is a God who created you, who is good and loves you, then when you delight in your Creator, you’re going to be most fulfilled. It makes sense. It says, “Who delights in His law, who meditates on His Word day and night.”
When my wife and I were dating, we dated long distance. I was in Chicago, she was at Cal Poly SLO, and then eventually, she moved to Sweden for a year with CRU to do a stint with them.
I didn’t have a cell phone in college and although that may shock some of you, you’re like, Wow, that’s archaic. And so, we had to make phone calls. I’d buy prepaid phone cards and dial up in my dorm room and go, it was a cord phone, so I’d go out in the hallway and try to have a conversation. And here’s what was amazing is because we didn’t have all those things and it’s awesome that we have them now, we would write letters. And we’d send care packages.
I’ve got to tell you, anytime I went down to our campus post office and got a care package, my heart leapt. I mean, it was just like, this is insane, this is amazing, are you kidding me? And I would open it up and there’s a note from Jenny. I’d just read it over and over again and just be like, oh, this is amazing! I still have a box from all the things that we sent each other over that year period, and it’ s still precious to me.
God wrote you a note. I know we know this or we’ve heard this before, but would it just sink in? Like, God loves you and He’s like, Man, I want the best life for you possible. And he says: blessed are those who, in the same way that a young man is dating this young woman across the globe, just pores over a love note, would you pore over God’s Word? Would you just go, Man, I’m going to delight in Your Word. I want to get Your Word in my heart. God, I want to know Your heart. Like You really love me and You want to make Yourself known to me and You want to know me and share things with me. And so, I’m going to get into Your Word. Would You just pore over His Word?
That we would be a people of His Word. Like, happy are the people who delight in God’s Word, like you begin to go, Okay, as I’m getting in here, God, You’re not down on me. You’re for me.
You’re like, “Well, Ingram, I saw where it said, ‘Delight in the law of the Lord,’ are you kidding me? When has anybody ever delighted in the law of the Lord?” Well, read the psalms, it’s all throughout here. But you’re like, “Yeah, but normal people. Like really everyday people.”
When my daughter was two years old, she came running around the corner of our house with scissors in her hands. And the sharp end was facing this way and so she’s running, so it’s like, coming right past eye, the sharp end, just like this, the way two-year-olds run, you know? It’s just like flailing arms everywhere. And I’m like, “Stop!” And I was like, I probably shouldn’t have yelled. I probably freaked her out. Grabbed the scissors and she cried, because her mean dad took the scissors that she was playing and having so much fun with away.
And guess what, she cried and was mad at me, all my kids, because I didn’t let them play in the street when they were little kids. See, every time I had one of those moments with my kids it wasn’t because I was trying to keep them from anything or rain on their parade.
It’s because as a good father, I love them and want to protect them and I want the very best for them. Would you recognize, at the heart of every command of God is an, “I love you.” He doesn’t command anything if it’s not for your good. He’s not trying to withhold from you, keep you from something that is good. He’s actually trying to keep you from harm so you would go, I am going to delight in Your law, because Your law is good and it’s for my good. And every command You have ever given is an “I love you,” from your heavenly Father to you.
Doesn’t that change the way you think about His law? Instead of going, “Man, God is just holding out on me.” No, man, your perfect heavenly Father who is wild about you and loves you and wants you to experience the very best life ever says, There are some things that I am going to say and it’s for your good and I’m going to pull the scissors out of your hand, I’m not going to let you run in the street, and you’re going to be mad a little bit, but I’ll tell you what, it’s for your good because I love you.
Blessed, happy is the person who delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night. Now, notice this. “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither – whatever they do prospers.”
That person is rooted, established. Not getting thrown by the winds of the culture, by the circumstances of our political environment. That person is rooted and established and stable. Don’t you want that?
Notice this, fruit, fruit comes in a particular season. Did you see this? It says, “Which yields its fruit in season.” Meaning there are seasons where it’s not fruitful. And we know this, we look at nature. There are times where there’s a fruit tree and it’s winter. See, there are times where you’re experiencing new growth, maybe seasons of pruning or winter dormancy. And what he’s saying here and it’s so powerful, he says, “Which yields its fruit in season and yet whatever they do prospers.”
So you can prosper, even when life is not fruitful in the moment. See, much of the way we determine success is by outward – what does it look like? What is the fruit? And here’s what he’s saying. He is saying fruit takes place in a certain season, yet, growth happens year-round.
Some of the greatest root growth takes place when there is no fruit on the tree. In the winter season, God is doing root development. On the outside, it looks like nothing is happening, but down below the surface, some of the most important areas are being developed.
And for some, you’re in a root-development season as you’re learning to go deep with God. And you’re like, well, some of the outward circumstances don’t look exactly the way I would like them. It’s not fruitful. And you’re like, no, no, no. Your roots are going deep into Him and it’s productive and prospering.
See, the law of happiness says that there’s actually only two paths in life. Right? No, there are so many paths, so many choices. Well, I just would say there’s one path that says, “I’m going to pursue and delight in God.”
As another psalmist would say, “Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Like, I’m just going to pursue after You. And the other path is: I’m going to pursue after my own thing. Every other path is just you being at the center of you.
And so, relational intelligence, when it comes to happiness, says this: happiness is a byproduct of a well-lived life, not a destination in life.
See, happiness, when we are talking about it especially in our modern term of the whole idea of a sense of pleasurable satisfaction, it’s a byproduct! It’s a path to go down. Happiness is a wonderful traveling companion. It is not a destination or and end goal.
In fact, C.S. Lewis would say it this way, “You cannot get a second thing by putting them first. You can get a second thing only by putting first things first.” And for some, what you’re coming to realize is the things that you have been running after aren’t bad things, but they are second things, because they will never be the thing that makes you happy.
In fact, Jesus would say it this way, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,” His way of life, the blessed life of Psalm 1, that’s His way of life, “and all these things will be added unto you.”
That wasn’t just like a nice idea. It wasn’t like Jesus was going, “Hey, take it or leave it.” He’d say, in your life, you have been pursuing and running after things that you hope will make you happy and you’ve made happiness an ultimate thing. No, no, no. It’s a byproduct, by the way. It’s not a destination. It’s a traveling companion.
But when you seek Me, when you put your heart and soul and say, “I’m going to seek Your ways and Your heart,” by the way, all these things will be added. You’ll get the second things along the way. You just make Me the delight of your heart.
Okay, well, what do I do with this? That’s fantastic, but how do I go about doing that? Let me give you just a couple application points, some decisions this week to make.
Application: in your relationships, whether it’s a friendship, maybe it’s your dating or married or work relationships, but in your relationships, would you choose to be a giver and not just a taker? Would you choose to be a giver, not just a taker? Jesus would say it this way, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.”
What’s fascinating, what’s fascinating is science and psychology backs it up two thousand years later. Did you know, in The Paradox of Generosity, research book, those Americans who give away money and more specifically those who give away at least ten percent of their income are happier than those who do not? Huh. That’s weird.
What Jesus said agrees with our best research of our day. We might just want to start taking God at His word. I’m just saying, come on. You’re like, “I don’t know.” Like, would you choose to be a giver? See, when happiness is your end goal, other people are a commodity that you take. You live with a scarcity mindset. “I’m not going to get mine and so I’ve got to make sure and get mine.” And, no, you have an abundance because of who you are in Christ. You go, “No, I’m going to be a giver!” And by the way, when I give, actually, I’m going to be filled up in that moment.
Paul, in Philippians, and the whole theme of Philippians is: choose joy. That’s like the whole book. It says, “Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,” that’s a lot of things that you have in Christ, “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and one in mind,” then notice this, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”
Do nothing about: how do I get mine? “Rather, in humility, value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” In your relationships, would you choose to be a giver with your time, your energy, resources, money? This is not to be a doormat to be walked over.
And some of you will wrestle on that side of it. But most of us, we want to get and we are afraid to give. And he says, “No, no, no, happy are those who choose to be a giver, not just a taker.”
Secondly, would you choose gratefulness instead of griping? Did you know, with neuroplasticity we can actually reprogram our mind a little bit? Research says ten percent of happiness comes from circumstances, fifty percent of our happiness comes from our temperament or genetic, and forty percent has to do with how we live our lives.
So, ten percent is only circumstantial, according to the best research. Fifty percent is part of your genetic temperament. Neuroplasticity says you can rewire your brain for happiness. Forty percent has to do with how we live our life.
Gratefulness rewires your brain. Griping does as well. Philippians 4, 4 through 7 says, “Rejoice,” and by the way, that’s a command, “rejoice in the Lord always,” in the good times and the bad times, “I’ll say it again rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all, the Lord is near.” His presence is close. That’s the reason you can rejoice. “Do not be anxious about anything,” well, come on, this area is so, we are living in the most anxious, driven world. How do I do that?
“But in every situation, by prayer and petition,” leaning into God, “with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Would you choose gratefulness instead of griping? Where you become happy for what you have? You’re like, “No, no, no, I’ll be happy when I have.” And you’re going, “I’m just going to begin to be happy for what I have.” God, I’m happy. I’m not really happy, but I’m grateful. Let’s start there.
It has to be a daily discipline, by the way. Advertisement in our day is built around you looking at what you do not have and creating the need that if you have it, then you’ll be happy – to create a deep dissonance in our soul with where we’re at. And so, we have to constantly go, “I’m grateful for, I’m thankful for…”
Part of my practice in doing this is I journal and it’s just the way I pray, because I’m distractible and I can’t keep my thoughts clear. And so, I write them down. It’s just helpful for me. And when I start, I begin with, Good morning my heavenly Father. I want to remind that He is my heavenly Father. And then I start with, just with thank-yous. Thank You, God, for…
Because it reorients my mind, redirects my mind from the things that I’m frustrated and from all the pressures and demands to, God, look at what all You have provided for me. See, my circumstances don’t change, but my perspective did. And it’s powerful.
I love to gripe, by the way. And we all love a good gripe. Don’t we love it when someone will gripe with us? And it’s like, “Yeah, man, this person.” And when someone doesn’t do it, isn’t it frustrating? Like, “Come on!”
And yet, and yet it causes us to look at the world with that scarcity, with not enough. Would you choose gratefulness? Thank You, God, for what You have given me.
And then, finally, would you choose contentment over comparison? Would you choose contentment? Would you make these decisions in your relationships, would you, today, go, Okay, this is going to be hard, but I want to be a taker, God, I’m going to, by the power of Your Spirit, would You empower me to be a giver in this moment? I’m going to choose gratefulness. I’m not very grateful right now, but God, would You help me? I’m just going to thank You for the, man, thank You for this house I’m renting. I could be not having a house to rent. I would love to own one day, but I’m thankful for what You have provided.
Choose contentment – happy with what you have – over comparison. Social media, we compare other people’s filtered highlight reel to our unfiltered reality, don’t we? And nowadays, it used to be where it was just pictures of what really happened. Now it’s people taking five billion pictures and professional cameras and staging stuff to prove that this is, they are having the best life.
And what research has shown over and over again, the more we are on social media, the more depressed, discouraged, and anxious we are as a people. That’s just research!
Why? Because you’re constantly comparing. Constantly getting fed with: you’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re just not enough. Choose contentment.
“I am saying this,” the apostle Paul, Philippians 4:11, “not because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” Whoa. “I know what it is to be in need, I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
That’s the context of the verse that we quote all the time. “I can do all this,” or sometimes, “all things through Christ who gives me strength.” The “all this” is contentment. It’s what He does in His strength, whether you have a lot or don’t. The issue isn’t what you have, it’s whether He’s got all of you.
Whether you go, “Okay, I’m going to choose to be a giver, not just a taker. I’m going to choose gratefulness instead of griping. I’m going to choose contentment over comparison.” Why? Because happiness is a byproduct of a well-lived life, not a destination. Today, you – you get to choose. You can make happiness the destination and be running after the elusiveness or you can go, “Okay, happy is the one who delights in the Lord.”