3 Effects of Discontentment

“Discontent is like ink poured into water, which fills the whole fountain full of blackness.”

– Owen Feltham

Discontentment is Sin

When we are discontented, we are telling God that we are not happy with what we have. We are basically saying, “God, I am not happy with what you have given me. I need more.” To be contented means we feel the sufficiency of having everything we need–not everything we want–and being thankful for it. To be discontented means that we don’t have everything we feel we need or want and we want more. It is telling God that He was not good enough to us. This is like taking what we do have for granted and demanding from God what we don’t have, but the wisdom of God is so far superior to ours that He knows exactly what we need and that anything more would be bad for us.

Godliness is Contentment

The saying that godliness is contentment is not in the Bible, but the principle is there for sure in both the Old and the New Testaments. Paul wrote to Timothy and told him and us that “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 clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim 6:6-8). Paul learned about being content because he often was cold, hungry, deprived of fellowship, imprisoned, and beaten, so it is no wonder he wrote, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Phil 4:11). There’s something new: Paul, like we’ll probably have to do, had to learn to be content “in whatever situation” he was. It was something he learned and not something that came naturally.

Battling Discontent

Even in Paul’s many afflictions, and he had more than anyone next to Christ, he said, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). God speaks through the author of Hebrews and tells us to “keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb 13:5). When the soldiers asked John the Baptist what was required, he said, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14). Being content is being satisfied with what you have and not being discontented with what you don’t have.


Being contented is a choice. If we have discontent, it’s like, as Owen Feltham said, pouring black ink into water and making the whole fountain full of blackness. When that happens, no one’s going to want to drink from it, and all those around a person who’s discontented can be negatively affected. Discontentment can be contagious, but so can contentment. Choose that, or blacken the whole water fountain with negativity.

Original image source: cc-by Arnolds Auziņš modifications: overlay texture, added text, cropped image