Here are some notes from my sermon on Hebrews 13:5-6.
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.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
The sin mentioned here is internal, not external. It is about what we love, not what we have or don’t have. This is important because we like to look at the externals. We like to draw boxes with sin in the box. Everything in this box is sin and guess who is outside the box; me. The wealthy Christian says, “Oh, God called Abraham and he was wealthy so I have nothing to worry about. Look at those poor people who worry about money all the time.” The simple and frugal say, “Oh, I don’t have a lot of stuff. I watch what I spend. I don’t buy all those luxury items. I must be free from the love of money.” Those who have paid off their mortgage and have a large savings account say, “God tells us to be wise with our money. I have been wise with my money. Therefore I must be free from the love of money.” Our hearts are experts at confronting sin in someone else and ignoring it in our own lives. But the verse does not focus on how much or how little we have or how fat our paycheck or much we have saved or how much debt we have. It focuses on what we love. We can love money and be poor, rich, frugal, free of debt, in debt, live simply, etc. Is our heart gripped by the love of things and stuff? Do we find security in our possessions? Are we content?
Here are some questions to help evaluate our contentment:
- Are we always looking to get more stuff? This is the pretty obvious one. That stuff can vary from books to clothes to electronics to fill in the blank. Are we content with the things we have?
- If our financial situation never changed would we be happy? A lot of us count on God improving our financial situation. We assume it is going to happen. What if it didn’t?
- What if God took away some of our possessions? What if we lost our job or our pay was reduced?
- Do we find ourselves dreaming of ways to get money quickly outside of years of hard work? A discontented life is often a lazy life. Proverbs 13:4 says the lazy man craves and gets nothing. We love to imagine wealth coming to us outside of slow, steady labor.
- On the flip side do we find that our work is never done? We work and work and work, never taking a true break, not slowing down for the Lord’s Day. We have this nagging guilt that we must do more. A discontented life can be lazy, but it can also be very active, but active for the wrong reasons. A busy person can have discontented heart.
- Does it bother us when God prospers someone else? When we don’t get that raise and our friend does how do we feel? When our neighbor gets a new car and we are still driving a ten year old beater does that bother us? Are we jealous of God’s gifts to others?
- Do we find that when God gives us something good our joy in that good thing is short-lived? We get a new outfit, new book, new TV, or new car and we are excited for a moment, but then we move on and begin to covet something else. Our gratitude for the gifts from God is quickly overrun by our desire for more.
- Finally, is our gratitude for all things from God increasing? A contented life is a thankful, grateful life. A discontented life is characterized by grumbling and complaining. Later in Hebrews 13:15 we are told to “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.” Discontent is killed by praise and thanksgiving. When we pray, is thanksgiving to the Lord a large part of our prayers? Do we thank the Lord for His daily benefits or just for the big things? Do we thank Him for his kindness in sending Christ? Do we find ways to praise Him even in the midst of hard and painful things? Whenever the Scriptures tell us not to do something it always implies the opposite virtue. We are told to not love money (ESV) or to keep our lives free from covetousness (NKJV). What is the virtue this negative command implies? It implies gratitude.