Moments later, a huffy businessman came walking on the beach to break up his busy day. He noticed the smiling fisherman lying in the sand without a care in the world and became curious as to why he was not working harder to make a living. So he approached the fisherman.
“You’re not going to catch many fish that way,” he said. “You should be working rather than lying out here on the beach all day!”
The fisherman just looked up at the businessman, smiling.
“Why? what will be my reward?” the fisherman asked.
“Well, uh, you can buy bigger and better fishing equipment to catch more fish,” replied the businessman.
“Then what?” The fisherman asked.
"Then you will be able to make money and buy a nice boat, which means you’ll catch even more fish!” The businessman responded.
“Then what?” The fisherman asked.
“Well, then you can buy an even bigger boat and hire a crew to work for you!” the businessman answered.
“Then what will I get?” the fisherman asked.
Frustrated, the businessman yelled, “Then you can become so rich you’ll never have to work again! Then you can spend your days lying on the beach, looking at the sunset and not have a care in the world! That's what!”
The fisherman laughed. “And what do you think I am doing right now?” he asked.
The businessman, who was not minding his own business, walked away in silence.
This lesson about a simple lifestyle, free from the hustle and bustle of working for more and more material things, is a reminder that having it all isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe less can be more when it comes to what matters most.
Ancient Greek Philosopher Socrates wrote, “Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Contentment makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.”
Even German inventor Frederick Koenig said, “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
With so many wise men recommending contentment as the best way to live, one might wonder why so few people seem to be content? Is it because they have allowed themselves to be caught up in the pursuit of materialism? Are they trying to “keep up with the Joneses?” Or Do they truly believe that happiness comes from having more things in life?
Regarding happiness, Indian Yoga master Sivananda, said, “There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.”
I agree with those words because those words agree with God’s Word at Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” — English Standard Version.
Paul explains the reason for seeking a life of contentment at 1 Timothy 6:6-8, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” — English Standard Version.
Is this to say it is wrong to have money, work hard, have nice things and to try and improve one’s lot in life? The Bible acknowledges at Ecclesiastes 7:12 that “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” — New World Translation.
Proverbs 13:4 says, “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.” — New Living Translation.
Clearly, there is no shame in having money, working hard or being able to prosper from one’s career. The real question is: At what cost?
Many have pursued material luxuries at the expense of their health, close family relationships and spiritual well-being, only to discover it is better to want what you have than to have what you want. The cost was just too high.
So how does one balance working for a living with being content? King David’s special request found at Proverbs 30:8-9 gives us the key: He asked God, “Make me absolutely honest and don’t let me be too poor or too rich. Give me just what I need. If I have too much to eat, I might forget about you; if I don’t have enough, I might steal and disgrace your name.” — Contemporary English Version.
If we can learn to be satisfied with what we have — putting God and His Kingdom first as Jesus said at Matthew 6:33, we will find the secret to contentment and a real purpose in life. By focusing on our needs instead of our wants — our contentment will reap rich blessings now and in the future when God will fulfill His promise to “satisfy the desire of every living thing.” — Psalm 145:16.
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