Comparison is the enemy of contentment. That’s been pretty clear in my own life and the lives of others whom I know. It’s also been that which I’ve conveyed to others while counseling them. Imagine then how startled I was to read the following sentence in Thomas Watson’s, The Art of Divine Contentment, “Let us compare our condition with others, and this will make us content.” What?! How can that be? Then I calmed down and read the next sentence, “We look at those who are above us; let us look at those who are below us.” In other words, we naturally compare ourselves to those above us (intellectual powers, physique, situation in life, etc.) and this breeds discontentment. But, Watson says, if we instead choose to compare our situation to those below us (those less fortunate) we will most likely realize how good we have it.
Along that same line of thought, Watson’s counsel to apply—when struggling with discontentment—is to compare ourselves with Jesus whose situation in life was in no way enviable. By meditating on His humble life we do much to cultivate the humility of contentment in our own.
Let us compare our condition with Christ’s upon earth. What a poor, mean condition was He pleased to be in for us! He was content with anything. ‘For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich yet for your sakes He became poor’ (2 Corinthians 8:9). He could have brought down a house from heaven with Him, or challenged the high places of earth; but He was content to be in the wine press that we might be in the wine cellar, and to live poor that we might die rich. The manger was His cradle, the cobwebs His canopy. He who is now preparing mansions for us in heaven had none for Himself on earth. He had nowhere to lay His head. Christ came in the form of a pauper, “Who being in the form of God took upon Him the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7). We do not read of any sums of money that He had. When He wanted money, He was forced to work a miracle for it (Matthew 17:27). Jesus Christ was in a low condition. He was never high, except when He was lifted up upon the cross, and that was His humility. He was content to live poor and die cursed. Oh, compare your condition with Christ’s!