The story is told of a wealthy American investment banker. He was at a pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, "Only a little while." The American then asked why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish. The Mexican told him he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American wasn't satisfied. He asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife Maria, and I stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you should buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds of the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City then go to Los Angeles and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But what then?" The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!" "Okay," the fisherman said, "I'll make millions. And then what?"
The American said, "This is the really good part. You would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, and take a siesta with your wife. In the evenings you could stroll into the village to sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
Discontentment is what ails us in America. We are rarely satisfied or fulfilled. We believe that if we had just a little bit more, we would feel complete. America is a culture of accumulation. It seems like we are always trying to make our lifestyles better: upgrading our stuff like our computers, our homes, our cars, etc. We have closets full of clothing, but nothing to wear. Commercials make us believe that there is just one more thing we need to be made whole. Discontentment drives our economy. Discontentment causes us to look for all the right things in all the wrong places. It feeds most every sin. For example, when we are discontented with food it can lead to obesity. Discontentment with money can lead to greed, workaholism, gambling, theft, and cheating. Discontentment with things can lead to materialism, debt, bankruptcy, selfishness, and jealousy. Discontentment with circumstances can lead to worry, stress, anxiety, and fear. Discontentment with your spouse can lead to divorce and lust. It causes us to try to squeeze more out of something than what that something was intended by God to provide.
The opposite of discontentment is contentment, which means being satisified and fulfilled no matter what the circumstances. The bible teaches us the secret to being content. Paul says in Phil. 4:10-13, "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
I wonder how many of us believe that we have learned the secret of being content? More often than I would like to admit I wonder if I have learned this secret. Whenever I get an advertisement from a clothing store, visit in beautiful homes, or watch commercials on tv I can be tempted to be discontent. Contentment is found in something that is not contingent on circumstances. In these verses Paul is saying that he has learned the secret of being content. It isn't based on how much stuff I have or how much money I have in the bank.
The source of Pauls contentment is found in Phil. 4:13 which says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Then in Phil. 4:19 he says, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Paul was content through his relationship with Jesus Christ. He found in Jesus every resource he needed to find satisfaction. Which do you think is harder? Finding contentment in Christ when you have everything or finding it when you have very little? I think one reason the poor are more receptive to the gospel is because they can discern sometimes more clearly their need for Jesus. They have already been looking outside of themselves for the things they need.
I think the lesson we should take from this is that if you do not have Jesus, you will not find permanent contentment. Like Paul, we can do all things through Jesus Christ. As you read this, ask yourself, "Have I discovered the secret of contentment?" Jesus is the person in whom to begin your search for the secret of contentment. If you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus and would like to know how to find that contentment just write me in the comment section and I'll write you back.