There is a delicate balance between being content and striving for more and the two seem to compete against one another. Being content is an inner attitude that has a lot to do with a peaceful state of mind. Striving for more is an action that outwardly suggests you aren’t entirely settled with your present circumstances.
In all honesty, I’m not sure where the boundary line is drawn. I think, however, I might be able to figure out when somebody crossed the line, like in this story.
It’s Theology Thursday here at Luke1428 and even if you have never opened the Bible, the name Jezebel probably rings a bell. She was wife and queen to one of the wicked kings of Israel’s history, King Ahab. As king and queen they had access to everything they could possible want. But one day, the king saw something near his house and he set his heart on getting it.
Near the king’s palace a man named Naboth owned a vineyard that had been an inheritance passed down through his family line. One day Ahab approached Naboth and said:
“Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money.”
“But Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!'”
Ahab offered Naboth full price for his vineyard or the option to have another one of greater value. That’s a pretty generous offer.
I’m not sure why Naboth refused. Maybe he didn’t like the king and was taking a stand against his evil ways. I doubt that was the case because in those days you didn’t refuse the word of the king. I like to think that Naboth was honoring his family heritage and he was content with what he owned.
Needless to say Ahab is distraught. He retreats to his bedroom at the palace, sulks and refuses to eat any food. That’s right…the king with everything is pouting. Poor baby.
When the queen comes in and finds out why her husband is so distraught she immediately jumps into scheming mode. She sends letters in Ahab’s name to the elders and nobles of the city asking them to proclaim a fast. During the fast, she has Naboth seated with high honor among the people. She then hires “scoundrels…[to} bear witness against him [Naboth], saying, ‘You have blasphemed God and the king.’” (I find it interesting that Jezebel invoked the name of God in her plan, whom she didn’t even worship.)
Of course, any ill word spoken against God and the king would be punishable by death. Unfortunately for innocent Naboth, that is exactly what happened. When the people heard these false accusations they took him outside of the city and stoned him to death.
When Jezebel finds out her plan has succeeded, she says to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” And so Ahab did.
Granted this is an extraordinary example of what somebody would do to get something they wanted. Manipulation, lying and murder are pretty extreme actions. However, it teaches me two valuable lessons:
1. Contentment – Naboth did not pursue a better vineyard and I don’t necessarily have to either.
2. Limits – Some things and the tactics necessary to pursue those things are out of bounds for me.
So how far would you go to get what you want? How do you balance contentment with the pursuit of more?
(In the Bible, see I Kings 21 for the entire story.)