Over the past four weeks I have been teaching a series on contentment. Up to this point, the texts we’ve used have commended contentment as a desirable trait to possess. The text in Hebrews, however, takes a more direct line and commands that we be content. Here it is.
Don’t love money; be satisfied (content, NIV) with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NLT)
The writer of Hebrews is straightforward and plain spoken. We can be free from the love of money and be content with what we have in light of the surpassing greatness of the power and presence of God. When God becomes the all surpassing value of our lives, that value subordinates all other values and allows us to confess three things.
1. The Lord is My Helper. There is a somewhat obscure story in the book of Genesis that illustrates this perfectly. In the 14th chapter, Abram’s nephew Lot and the citizens of Sodom had been captured by a coalition of five invading kings and their armies. One of Lot’s servants escaped and reported the news to Abram, who gathered his 318 elite warriors and set off to retrieve the captives. Abram’s venture is successful, and the citizens of Sodom are rescued along with their possessions which had been taken as the spoils of war. Wishing to show his gratitude, the king of Sodom offered the salvaged plunder to Abram as a reward for his daring rescue operation. Abram’s response is quotable. “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God most high, creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise, you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich’.” (Genesis 14:22-23, NLT) Contented people have a high view of God and recognize that he is the source of their lives.
2. I will have no fear. Proverbs 1:7 says, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge.” When the fear of the Lord is absent from our lives, we become slaves to lesser fears. Contented people become free from fear, not through courage or bravery, but by elevating their estimation of God.
3. What can mere people do to me? I like the use of the word “mere.” It’s a superlative of British origin. Jesus taught his disciples not to fear people who can destroy our bodies, but to fear the one who can destroy both the body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28).
As you’ve already recognized, the common theme through these confessions is a high value of God. When we have elevated God to his rightful place and esteem him above all in greatness, the exaltation of Christ in our minds subordinates all other things including our fears and the things that are threatening. Finding contentment in your life will only come when we estimate God in that regard. On the surface, our discontentment appears to be a problem we have with material things. But peeling back the layers to the root of the matter reveals that its not a matter of valuing things too highly. Its a matter of not valuing God highly enough.