Is it a sin to be discontent?

Nothing like being a freelancer has forced me to rely on God’s provision daily. I have to trust in His plans for me and constantly remind myself that His timing is perfect. Time and time again, God shows me grace even though I doubt Him and always provides perfectly. But how do I respond? 

I often groan and grumble about how I wish I had just a little bit more than His perfect. 

I grumble for many reasons. "I don’t have enough work" versus "I have too much work" are the two that consistently cause me discontent. Ultimately, whatever the reason for my grumbling, it comes down to the fact that I am doubting Him and His provision.

Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good - do not all go to the one place? 
All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.

- Ecclesiastes 6:6-7 

Everything God provides for me is good because He is good, but if I’m not satisfied with His provision, I am rejecting His goodness. And when I refuse His goodness, I am also refusing His love out of discontent. Time and time again He proves to me that He is good and wise and loving even though He has nothing to prove to me at all - He is God! But in His love, He continues to come through for me despite my groaning.

So, is it a sin to be discontent?

I used to think that being discontent was not a bad thing because it was purposefully part of God's design. I thought, "God made me in His image and my home is not on earth but with Him in heaven. Of course I am going to be discontent." However, discontentment is indeed a sin because it assumes that God's provision is not good and not enough for me. That is definitely never God's purpose.

Discontentment is one of the sins that we have deemed "acceptable." The word "acceptable" is not being used to be legalistic but to make the point that we rank sins as if one is worse than the other. For example, it is acceptable to worry a little but it is not to lie even a little. In reality, discontentment is not acceptable, sinful, because it ultimately means that there is distrust in God. 

When reading about how the Israelites grumbled to God over and over again while wandering the wilderness, it is easy to think, "I know it must be tough being out in the desert but they're grumbling again? How ungrateful they are! Don't they remember what God's done for them so far?" When we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we also grumble when things get tough because we forget how God's provided abundantly before. We also forget that God did not just let the Israelites grumble without consequence but punished them justly for their discontentment, their sin.

And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years,
until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was gone.

- Numbers 32:13

Fortunately for us, this is where grace - Christ's death and resurrection - saves us all. God knows we are prone to wander in discontentment so He gives us grace. Such joy is in His grace!


When we struggle with discontentment, let us remind ourselves that we live in a world broken by sin. This place is not what God has hoped for us. True contentment, true joy, will come only when we sit next to Him in eternity. But He does desire for us to be joyful while we live among brokenness by being loved by Him and loving others well.


** This was originally written in April 2014 as a guest post for blog. I saw the draft for this in my archives last week and I now share it here because I still struggle with discontentment. Moreover, I also wanted to add to the article and change some thoughts according to what I have learned as my relationship with God has grown since last year.