The Thief of Discontentment

By now, the best way to ease the grind of discontentment should be clear. The book of Proverbs counsels us to find personal delight in the things money cannot buy, such as love and interpersonal harmony. Wisdom also points to another intangible hope that satisfies the heart in ways that material possessions fail to do.

Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice. (16:8)

In the 1980 Boston Marathon, a previously unknown amateur runner named Rosie Ruiz stunned the running world by completing the 26.2-mile race in a remarkable time, just under 2 hours and 32 minutes—then, the fastest woman’s time in the race’s history. She labored the last several hundred yards looking visibly fatigued, crossed the finish line, and then collapsed into the arms of race officials. The media swarmed around the unexpected winner, who acknowledged training hard on her own to prepare for the historic event.

Unfortunately, Rosie didn’t run the entire course. She started, ran a portion of the first few miles, hopped a subway, waited a couple of hours, and then rejoined the race half a mile from the finish. Race officials became suspicious because of her dramatic improvement on her time in the New York Marathon (2 hours, 56 minutes, 33 seconds) just one year earlier. As it turned out, however, she hadn’t run that course either. She had taken the bus.

I simply don’t understand what one gains from cheating! How can anyone possibly enjoy the spoils of victory knowing he or she could—and probably would—get caught? Rosie Ruiz will always be known among runners as “the marathon cheater.”

Nothing obtained by injustice will bring satisfaction. The sage declared that his honest gain, meager though it might be, gave him greater satisfaction than ill-gotten riches ever could. Who cares if your bank account is stuffed and your investment portfolio is the envy of Wall Street, if you cheated to win? That wouldn’t make you more successful, more intelligent, more diligent, or more anything worthy of respect. Moreover, you must then contend with your conscience. That’s like sleeping on a coat hanger: every move you make is another reminder that something is wrong.

The rich and the poor, those who want much, those who have much, and those who feel they need more—all are equally in need of the sage’s counsel. Discontentment rarely has anything to do with one’s financial status. Greed is cancer of the attitude, caused not by insufficient funds but by misplaced and inappropriate priorities. Some people will never be satisfied, no matter how much they acquire. Discontentment is a thief that continues to rob us of peace and steal our integrity. Ever so subtly it whispers, “More . . . more . . . more . . . more . . .”

From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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