Morning Musing: Hebrews 13:5-6

*** If you’ve been tracking with me for very long on here, you know that I’ve written quite a lot over the years. As a matter of fact, this month will see my 1500th post. Each of those posts take up storage space on my site, and with the addition of pictures and audio recordings, they take up even more space. A couple of years ago, I upgraded the site for storage purposes, but I’m almost back to the new cap. In an effort to create some space without having to upgrade again quite yet (I don’t get enough traffic to justify that), I am going to begin going back through and deleting old audio files. I’ll start with the oldest and work forward from there. I’ll plan to keep at least a calendar year’s worth of audio files before deleting them. This means that if you go back to an old post, the audio link in it won’t work anymore. I could go through and remove all of those old links…but, honestly, that’ll take a lot more time than I have to give to it. The posts will still be there for reference, though, so still feel free to search the archives if you’re ever in need of some thoughts on a particular passage. I’ve covered quite a lot of the Scriptures over the years. Thank you, as always, for reading and sharing. You are why I keep writing every day. ***

“Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or abandon you.’ Therefore, we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In 1984, Madonna sang what was arguably the anthem for the times when she declared herself a material girl living in a material world. That wasn’t just an anthem for the time, then, though, it was a description of the struggle we have always had to define our lives by the stuff we have. Jesus dealt with this directly. So did Paul. If we are going to live under the authority of the new covenant, we only get to have one God and Lord. And money’s not it. Let’s talk this morning about why we can trust God in that position.

As we see this final lightning round chapter developing, it is becoming clear that what the author is doing is calling us to kingdom living in light of the superlative greatness of the new covenant. It is the revelation of God’s kingdom through Christ. The only proper reaction is to live in it. So far, we have seen a baseline call to love one another, as well as a reminder of the surpassing importance of the marriage relationship.

Here, the author takes on what is arguably the single greatest threat to our hearts’ being set solely on Jesus: Money. If we are going to live comfortably in the new covenant, we need to keep our lives free from the love of money.

This is an idea that appears in more than one place in the New Testament. Two stand out most in my mind. The first is Paul’s famous (and famously misquoted) observation to Timothy that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (not that money itself is the root of all evil). People have caused themselves all manner of misery by giving themselves to it. The second is Jesus’ observation that we cannot serve two masters. We will give our heart to only one of them. The other will be the recipient of our scorn and hatred. This is all to say, the author of Hebrews is calling us to a certain lifestyle, namely, one that involves putting money and our stuff in their proper place and leaving them there.

After giving the base command, the author gives another command that takes us one step further. It is a command intended to help shepherd us in the direction of the first. In order to keep our lives free from the love of money, we need to develop a mindset of contentment when it comes to our stuff. That’s the heart of this second command to be satisfied with what you have. Contentment is a nice sounding idea, but it is much harder to achieve in practice.

Discontentment can take a number of different forms, but they all boil down to one of two things. We either want more than we have, or other than we have. The challenge here is that we live in a world that all but drags us into a mindset of discontentment. The entire advertising industry is predicated on the idea that we should want something more or other than we have. When someone has a product they are trying to sell and that product is not something necessary for staying alive (grocery stores don’t encourage people to buy food generally, but rather to buy food from them), the best way to get you to buy it is to convince you that you need it. Yet if it is a luxury item as a great majority of the things we buy are, from an objective standpoint, we don’t need it. In order to stimulate you to let your desire for it grow to the point that you purchase it in spite of your lack of need, the advertisers work very hard to make you discontent with your current situation. They encourage this spirit of discontentment, and then guarantee their product will solve it so you can be content once again.

The thing is, though, advertisers like this don’t have to work all that hard to grow a sense of discontent in our hearts and minds. That comes to us fairly naturally because of sin. Because of sin, we operate as if we are responsible for providing everything we need for ourselves by ourselves. The thing about this is that we aren’t satisfied with merely scraping by on the basics. We want more than that. We want an abundant life. That’s actually a desire put in us by God Himself, but sin takes even that desire and twists it all out of shape so that we always and only want more than we have.

When we are living into our sin-twisted desires, what we are doing is forgetting that none of this is actually true. We aren’t on our own in this life. We don’t have to produce everything for ourselves by ourselves. There is a God who is for us. He wants to see us thrive. He created us for an abundant life. That abundance, though, is not defined the way the world defines it as having lots of stuff and the ability to get more stuff and experiences whenever we desire them. It is defined as being full of the joy of the Lord and the peace of the Spirit and the love of Jesus. It is defined as not being controlled by our selfish desires, but by the freeing love of the Lord.

None of this is anything we can have by ourselves, but the good news is we are not by ourselves. That’s the encouragement here. He will never leave us or abandon us. He will be with us always. We always have access to Him and His power. We need only lean into that and find all we need for the situation we are in. With the God who created the world and everything in it with us, we can indeed proclaim with boldness what the psalmist proclaimed so long ago: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

When God is our hope and help, the world can’t touch us. Yes, it can come after us here and now. It can strive to make our lives miserable. It can go after the people around us. It can cause us incredible physical pain. But that’s it. And I know that sounds like a lot. But in an ultimate sense, it’s practically nothing. When our eyes are fixed on the King of creation, His eternal kingdom, and the life we will one day enjoy there forever, the world’s attacks in the here and now will come to mean very little to us. Oh, they’ll still hurt in the moment, but He will help us endure the pain, and it cannot touch the joy and peace and hope and love He will plant deeply inside our hearts.

With all of this we can be content. We don’t have to buy into the lie that we need more or different than we have. We can be content regardless of our present physical circumstances. This is because our contentment doesn’t depend on our present physical circumstances. It is rooted in a kingdom that is both far and near, but over which the world has no power. We can and should use the stuff of this world – including money – as the tools God gave them to us to be, but we need not love them. We can delight instead in loving the God who gave them. That love will never fail us.

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