Summary: Discontent is one of the major issues of the world today. One of the major causes of discontent is comparison.
Discontentment is one of the biggest problems that human beings face today. Spouses get discontent with each other and divorces happen. Children get discontent with parents and move away. Congregation members get discontent with their pastors and churches break up or new denominations are born. Neighbors get discontent with each other and move into another neighborhood, only to repeat the story all over again. Pastors get discontent with congregations and congregations split. The list can go on and on. Voters get discontent with the government and elect the opposition to power only to find that things are no better, or even worse. We have heard the saying “grass is greener on the other side”. But many times, instead of landing on the “greener side” we go from the frying pan directly into the fire.
If we analyse discontentment, we can discover many reasons that causes discontentment. There is this constant craving for something that we don’t have. Adam and Eve craved for the taste of the forbidden fruit, thought they had access to everything else. David craved for the company someone else’s wife, though the Lord had given him everything. There are many such examples in the Bible itself. For paucity of time, I will not be able to discuss all of them. But I am going to focus on just one major reason.
In the corporate, one of the major challenges that leaders face is how motivate employees. Hence people continuously study about this evasive concept. As a result, there are many motivational theories that has got wide acceptance in the corporate circles. This is a church and hence I will not make it into a class on motivational theory. However I have to tell you about one theory that is well accepted and relevant to today’s message. It is called the Equity Theory of Motivation. It is an interesting theory. Some of us who are old might remember the first time TV advertisements started and there was this Surf advertisement which went like “Uske kameez mere kameez se safed kyon? “. The Equity theory is quite like this. It basically says that people compare their perceived efforts vs their perceived rewards and then decide whether it is equitable or not. So what I do is, I evaluate my reward. Let us say salary, and divide by what I think is the efforts that I am putting in. Then I estimate Nidheesh’s rewards (salary) and then divide it by what I think is Nidheesh’s efforts. If my ratio is lesser than Nidheesh, I am unhappy, because I then think that it is not equitable. If my ratio is better than that of Nidheesh, then I am motivated do better at my work. You get the drift right?
If you think of it, we actually do this constantly, in real life. Not just in office, but we do this at home, we do this in marriage, we do this in society. We are constantly comparing what is dealt out to us against what others get. We then naturally feel that “I deserve better”. And that causes a whole lot of problems all over.
Let us turn to our Bibles. Matthew 20:1-15 (NKJV) "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.' So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?'