How to Conquer complaining and coveting-and just be content!

Written by Elizabeth Thrives

Oct 27, 2020
conquer complaining and coveting and just be content

How to conquer complaining and just BE content!

I think we can all agree that we do not enjoy being around a grumbler and complainer. I bet we can all also agree that we, ourselves, don’t want to be a discontent “negative nancy”.

Many times the grumbling and complaining has a lot to do with that which we covet. You know, the things, people, or circumstances that we think we must have to be happy, satisfied, and at peace.

A must-read FIRST is my post that would be a Part 1 of this discussion: CRACKING THE CODE ON COMPLAINING AND COVETING!

(  HERE.)

Once we establish that yes, complaining and coveting are certainly present in our lives more than we want them to be, we can get to conquering these attitudes and mastering contentment!

Yes please!

*The following is a compilation of my thoughts and notes on a chapter of James McDonald’s book: Lord Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late*

Thankfulness and Contentment are the answer!

If we see that we often have a negative, grumbling, covetous attitude, that doesn’t actually free us from it. Instead we have to REPLACE those attitudes with their opposites!


Thankfulness leads to contentment and contentment leads to thankfulness. Thankfulness and contentment are patterns of thinking that totally replace complaining and covetous thinking. They cannot exist together! Isn’t that great?!

Remember complaining and covetousness are actually us saying and believing that what God has provided is not enough.  On the other hand, contentment is satisfaction. Contentment means to rest in and be thankful for what you already have and not to be in unrest about what you don’t have.

Talk about counter cultural!

But….how do we get there right?

Let the wisdom of God’s Word break the pattern of thankless and covetous thinking!

Consider a couple of Scriptures that shed light on conquering complaining and coveting.

Maybe Philippians 4:11-13 is coming to mind when Paul said:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

That certainly shows a resting in what one has whether it’s a little or alot- and it’s a beautiful picture of contentment through CHRIST’S POWER.  Even though some situations are extremely hard to live in and be content, we see that we can do all things through CHRIST who empowers us.

Another helpful Scripture is 1 Timothy 6:6-10:

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and covering, with these we will be content.”

In 1 Timothy 6:7 of that passage, it says, “for we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world.”

Don’t you love simple things like that? I mean it’s so clear. Think about newborn babies… Every single one arrives naked and empty-handed right?

And when we die we can’t take anything with us. Nothing! So for those of us who are materially wealthy and those of us who have nothing at all, we all go out equally when we die- completely empty handed.

Let enough be enough.

Let’s look at verse 8 (of 1 Timothy 6), “but if we have food and covering, with these we will be content.”

So there you have it. The things you HAVE to have? Only 2: food and covering.

Not fancy food and not a dream home- just shelters to protect our heads and clothes to cover our bodies.

Wow- are you feeling really complicated like me? If someone asked me to name the things I really need in this life, I would probably have listed more than these two things!

So are nice clothes and or a really nice home wrong? Or any of the other million things we could want outside of food and shelter? Like health, or success, or marriage? Of course not! This is just saying we don’t HAVE to have those things. Do you hear the freedom in that?

Because we aren’t guaranteed health, success, marriage, children,  or easy circumstances… so it’s very freeing to know we can be content and even thankful without those things.

And I think this passage shows that the pursuit of clothes and food and homes and success and marriage is something we need to really be careful about because it can lead to discontentment and covetousness.

We just need food and covering. That’s enough. When we embrace these truths from God’s Word and think that way, it very much breaks the pattern of thankless and covetous thinking.

Now that we see God’s word can change our perspective and attitude patterns, let’s look at 3 ways to CONQUER complaining and just BE CONTENT!!

1. Seek thankfulness and contentment!

Seek thankfulness and contentment as a lifestyle, as a CHOICE.

Thankfulness is a choice rooted in reality. Sure, there is much out there that is worthy of complaint. But I submit there is far more that we can choose to focus on that is worthy of thankfulness.

Let’s ask God himself to cultivate this in our hearts and our attitudes. Everyday! Let’s ask Him-“Lord help me to be thankful and content with all things today!”

And actually pick things and thank Him. You will see your thankfulness start to really grow.

If you are seeking to grow in gratitude as a matter of prayer- and choosing to thank God for things pertaining to people and circumstances in your life, you will see the list of complaints shrink and list of thankful items increase.

2. Say it.

This is so good! There is much power in choosing to say something we may not feel with our emotions like I wrote about in the “How to Truly Forgive Someone” post.

Our EMOTIONS will follow and “catch up” with our WILL in the area of thankfulness and contentment as well. It happens every time.

Because as you know, we often think, “Oh I have feel thankful and content if I’m going to say it.”

No you don’t.

Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart -so is he!”

So we must say, “Thank you Lord that I have enough.”

Which is very different from, “I would really like to have that”… and “I really need this”…and “I wish this was different in my life…”

This is all VERY contrary to our culture and probably very contrary to how we FEEL a lot of the time.
But it’s a CHOICE.

It’s a CHOICE to speak words of thankfulness!

When we’re frustrated with something and want to complain … OR when a desire for something comes into our minds- what about saying  “Oh Lord- thank you for what I DO have … thank you for your provision.”

Or if its not a thing but a situation that we want, what about saying, “I trust you Lord and thank you for your great sufficiency.”

As we start to say,“Thank you Lord- thank you for your provision for me,”etc, it’s speaking the truth. And we will start. to. believe. it!!!

We can’t expect to replace complaining and covetousness with contentment in one moment though. You don’t wake up in the morning and say, “Wow! I think I got contentment last night! It just happened! This is so cool!”

No it’s a CHOICE. And then ANOTHER. It happens moment by moment.

And as we choose to be content, contented we will be.

{An incredible poem!}

Listen to this AMAZING POEM by Fanny Crosby (born blind and wrote many poems and hymns):

Oh what a happy soul I am!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
that other people don’t
to weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot and I won’t.

Ahh! I love that so much!

Once when someone expressed pity for her blindness, Fanny Crosby responded, “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”


Thankfulness and contentment are attitudes we LEARN!!!!

So if I’m not thankful and content, it is not my income’s fault, it’s not my circumstance’s fault, it’s not some person’s fault,

It’s MY fault.

Thankfulness and contentment don’t depend on other people!!! (Thank goodness). They don’t depend on desirable circumstances! (Thank goodness again.)

We can be content whatever happens or doesn’t happen; whatever we have or don’t have.
We can practice it and we NEED to!

So let’s actually try it right now! Just say (aloud, if you are willing:-) “I am thankful for God’s provision in my life.”

If you are near someone, say, “I am so thankful to God that I have enough.”

Let’s shout it from the mountaintops! “THANK YOU LORD, THAT I HAVE ENOUGH!!!!”

Ok calming down.

3. Settle it!

Listen to this verse:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

When I say “settle it,” I mean-just decide. This is what I’m going to do. With CHRIST’S help, I’m going to BE THANKFUL. This is how I am going to live. I’m going to choose to be content no matter what.

In conclusion:

It is so possible to conquer complaining and coveting! It is so possible to simply BE CONTENT. It’s not instant, and it is LEARNED. But we can do all things through CHRIST who strenghtens us!

(See Part 1- Cracking the Code on Complaining and Coveting)

(Helpful resource: Lord Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late by James McDonald)


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