I’m just asking for what is fair… Discontentment is Entitlement {Pt II}

Hey Reader,

Welcome back to Living Contentment – your weekly nudge towards real, deep contentment through something contentment-related to read, do, and pray.

We’re currently revisiting some causes of discontentment. If you have been reading this newsletter for several years – you’ll probably remember some of these.


For those of us raised with a Western cultural mindset, ‘justice’ is one of the most important values we hold.

Fairness, equity, getting what we earn, and what we deserve – are all things we value deeply. We believe the innocent are (or at least should be) acquitted, and the guilty punished. We tend to believe governments enact laws justly, that smart students get good grades, that slackers at work are punished, and the best athlete gets gold. At least we believe very deeply this is how it should be, and we get enraged when it doesn’t happen.

This value is a really good thing. It leads to a flourishing of society that simply cannot happen otherwise. In many parts of the world, people simply do not default to that.

Assuming the police will only help if you pay them, that a job goes to whoever has the family ties, that a judge will side with whoever has the biggest bribe, that grades are not earned, that prison is reserved for those with the wrong political ties are all assumptions held by millions of people all over the world.

In the global West, we also have a very strong individualist mindset. We tend to focus on ourselves. What we can accomplish, what we can do, and our own track record is of utmost importance. Thinking about my job performance (not the team) where I went to school (no regard for others in the family), and what I gained for myself (not the community) are ways we narrowly focus on ourselves.

When we compare ourselves to others, it’s only to those with more than us. We like to ignore facts like if our total wealth (house equity, bank accounts, retirement fund, etc.) approaches $100,000 that puts us in the wealthiest 10% on the planet (if it totals $1M we are the global 1%) NOTE1

When we combine these deeply held values – we come to a place of “I don’t have a whole lot – but everything I have, I earned myself. And honestly… I deserve a little bit more.”

We assume intelligence and hard work guarantee good outcomes

We assume smart / good / cool / hard-working people – have good lives.

Dumb / bad / lazy people fail.

We assume that outputs are the result of inputs.

When we find other people do indeed have more (better, cooler) stuff than us, we cannot hold on to the belief that we are as good (deserving, worthy, important, smart, cool, etc.) as they are and still maintain this sense of fairness.

We will have a reinforced sense of “no, I deserve more/better/happier/prettier” and we will be driven by that nagging sense of inequality.

The only way we see to right this supposed wrong is to get as much as others (which of course is a never-ending cycle) – or we are discontent because we see this gross injustice that is a result of this apparent imbalance.

We can never find contentment – because we are constantly plagued by a nagging feeling that we should have more. Otherwise, life just isn’t fair.


What if by default we assumed this life wasn’t really fair? That what we got/earned wasn’t a just reward.

What if we accepted that some who work really hard get nowhere, and some who seem to have it all did very little to ‘earn’ it?

What do you feel you’re still owed?


Consider the life you would have had – should have had – if God had not intervened.

What would that look like?

Reconsider what you deserve, and how fair life really is.


Lord of sufficiency,
God of abundance,
Creator of everything,
I admit my constant craving for more hinders me.
It gets in the way of loving you,
It causes me to resent others,
It doesn’t allow me to be happy with what I have.
Help me to see everything that I have as a gift.
Teach me to look at others who have more with joy,
Encourage me to look at others with less – and be honest.
Give me your heart, give me contentment.
For my sake, for the sake of those around me,
and for the honor of your name.

Talk to you next week!


NOTE1: Credit-Suisse / UBS 2023 Global Wealth Report