I am starting to see how the “I want, I need” mindset has affected my relationship with Jesus and myself. A constant ticker tape is running through my mind, saying, “I want to pray more. I need to be more loving. I want to have victory over chocolate chip cookies.” That loop has been there so long that it runs almost unnoticed in the background of my mind.
In the Bible, Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” There is another place in the Word where Paul says, “I have learned to be content.” I always thought that meant he learned to like prison food, but I am starting to believe it goes much deeper than that. Maybe part of his meaning was learning to be content with ourselves.
Contentment with us is such a foreign concept in this culture obsessed with financial success, having more youth, and beauty. We turn on the TV or social media, and we compare ourselves to the shiny, happy, beautiful folks we see. That quickly feeds our “I am not good enough” mindset, forming a negative bias against ourselves both physically and spiritually.
For me, the worst hamster wheel of the “I want, I need” is the spiritual one. I seek to find the things I believe are wrong with me or lacking in me, and I begin hammering God during my prayer time to fix my deficits and change me. I rarely allow myself to just be and praise Him for all His marvelous work to make me this new creature. I always seek to improve rather than just being still and knowing He is God. And by doing that, I allow shame to have a bigger voice in my life than Him.
As a Christian counselor, I know I’m not alone in this. There is an epidemic in the Body of Christ of Believers with an “I’m not good enough” mindset. The saddest part of this is how it hijacks our relationship with God and wrecks our prayer life. We are too busy praying about our laundry lists of things we believe He should fix about us to effectively pray for the needs of others. Worse than that, if we are hypercritical with ourselves, we will pick our neighbor to pieces. Love is wrecked by fault finding because, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13, “love keeps no record of wrongs.”
All this discontentment with us and others is based on the lie of a snake. Remember, when Eve was walking around in the Garden, she was perfect, and she lacked nothing. In fact, God said she was created in His image and was “very good.” But along came a serpent who told her she needed something more. That same serpent uses the same trick today, and we buy it.
Here is a little fact check I’m trying to use with myself when the “I want, I need” mindset comes knocking: Fact 1: Jesus lives inside and outside of me. That means there is more of Him than there is of me. It must be incredible! Fact 2: As I trust Jesus to change me where and if I need to change and accept that I’m okay, I am pleasing God. I know this because it takes faith to believe I’m okay, and the Bible says, “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” Therefore, my faith that I’m perfected in Him and that my contentment with myself pleases Him. Fact 3: As I accept myself and trust Him with me, I get myself off my mind, and I can love and pray for others more effectively.
Psalm 55:22 says, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.” My burden has been me, and I’m tired. So, I give myself to Him, trusting He will care for me. And in that place, I find that Godliness with contentment is a great gain after all.