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How Far Would You Go To Get What You Want?

Darth VaderEver been around someone who is never satisfied? It doesn’t matter how much they have they always want more. Contentment is a foreign word to them.

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.

Enter Jezebel.

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.)

Next Post: 2 Huge Reasons We Need to Save to Build Wealth

Prior Post: How to Eliminate Overspending and “Gotcha” Moments

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  1. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says

    Great post, Brian. The kids love hearing this story, as morbid as it ends. It’s funny: now that we’re committed to getting out of debt, I find I have to keep an eye on going too far to the other extreme: being discontent to the point where I’m ready to sell everything but the kids in order to get out of debt. Drive is good, but when you’re too focused on your goal, even if it’s a good goal, it’s still discontentment and not a good thing.

    • You are exactly right Laurie. It’s really easy to swing completely to the other side of the spectrum and get so intense on the debt payoff that it becomes unhealthy. I’ve seen in myself sometimes an unwillingness to loosen the budget to allow for some fun.

  2. I’ve worked with people who would stop at nothing to get their way. I may be considered a bit naive to many people. However, I try not to step on others to get what I want. Usually something better comes along if you’re patient and look for signs.

  3. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    Good post Brian! Contentment can be a tricky thing as we’ve been learning recently about being content with having a lot as well as a little. Running our own business makes income fluctuate wildly, along with the work. At the end of the day, God has still has blessed us and He has given us exactly what we need. Contentment, as a whole, is so foreign today as we tell ourselves that we always need more when at the end of the day we really don’t. This is also not to mention the fact that it reveals a lot about our character.

    • Couldn’t agree more with your perspective. At some level for me, it boils down to “What’s your motivation? What tangible or emotional need are you trying to meet by striving for more?” When those questions are answered, you find out a lot about a person’s character like you said.

  4. That story was vaguely familiar and a good moral to remember. Even though we might think that’s extreme it still happens today. People destroy each others lives to put themselves first. I actually wrote about honoring others today. It’s surprising how far one is willing to go when uncontent. I try to keep my faith in God and content knowing he provides all that I need.

    • I know. As I was writing it I thought of a few modern day examples that were similar. And I agree with your sentiment that our faith and trust that our needs will be met goes a long way in cementing a spirit of contentment in our lives. God’s provision for us is one of the core money related themes found in the Bible.

  5. I always grappled with the idea of being content versus wanting more and striving for better things. Like even when it comes to looks and personality, you’ll see the message in women’s magazine that says, “you are perfect exactly the way you are!” followed by a headline that says, “lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” or “10 ways to look younger.” So…we AREN’T ok with being exactly who we are and loving that? So you’re right, there is a delicate balance. You have to appreciate what you have NOW, but still know it’s OK to pursue goals and dreams. How to find that balance is tricky.

    • That’s an interesting example and would be a great topic for a post…how marketers promote these message to us. And you know the messages would be different depending on the gender they were targeting.

  6. I am a competitive person and I like to win. And the same time, I find no joy or pleasure in winning by hurting others. I think I balance contentment with the desire for more through daily gratitude. I am blessed and I know this. And I never take it for granted.

  7. I feel contentment is hard for a lot of people stick to since today’s economy is always pushing the next thing on you. I mean just look at the TV, with constant advertisements and even entire channels dedicated to buying stuff it’s hard to get away from it. I think this is why people in the 1800’s didn’t buy much stuff simple because no one was pushing it like they are now.

    • Yeh, news and information traveled a little slower in Honest Abe’s day. But you are right, we are bombarded. And the message is, “You can’t be a complete person unless you have ___________ (fill in the blank).” It does make it a challenge to be content.

  8. Financial Black Sheep says

    I have the problem of being competitive and not happy unless I am the best. I have been learning to not compare myself to others. Mostly through financial lessons I have learned along the way if you can believe it. I can still be extremely competitive in the work place and haven’t learned how to dial that down. I get burnt out easy, so I need to find some balance. Maybe I should contentment, limits and of course balance first. Great post!

    • You hit on two huge issues, competitiveness and comparison. I don’t think either is necessarily bad if they prompt you to do good things or take appropriate steps to improve yourself. In a way, it shows you passionately care about something which is a good thing.

  9. 😀


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    How Far Would You Go To Get What You Want?

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