Robert Lustig's book The Hacking of the American Mind came yesterday.
On pages 9-10 he discusses the differences between "reward" and "contentment." May I share them with you?
- Reward is short-lived; contentment is long-term.
- Reward is excitement; contentment is calming.
- Reward is achievable through substance use (some legal, some not legal); contentment is not achievable through substance use but is achieved with deeds and accomplishments.
- Reward occurs with taking; contentment is generated through giving.
- Reward is yours and yours alone; contentment can impact other people and even society at large.
- Unchecked reward can lead to misery; contentment keeps us from being miserable in the first place.
- Reward is driven by dopamine; contentment is driven by serotonin.
There is a two-way movement here. The temporal versus the eternal. The physical versus the spiritual. The self versus others. God blesses us in the moment. But we are all headed for a Grand Tomorrow. In fact, the night is far spent and the day is at hand. We await the sunrise because we are looking for the Son to appear. The thing is, Jesus is with us both in the Today and in the Tomorrow, both in our temporary rewards and in our hopeful contentment. Either way, Christ is what really matters and everything else is judged by him. Either way, his grace is sufficient. Well did Spurgeon say that a fish might fret about enough water in the sea before a Christian need be bothered over the sufficiency of God's grace.
Grace to you, my friend. No matter what ephemeral rewards you receive or don't receive. No matter if contentment is a present reality in your life or only a prospective reality. What was provided for the apostle Paul is available to any and all saints: "My grace is sufficient for you." Now that's contentment.