Being content with what you have

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, ” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? ”

– Hebrews 13:5-6

The love of money is a dangerous thing. If we were to make a list of the sins we consider the most serious, love for money might easily be left off that list. Compared to the “big” sins, this one seems fairly mundane to us. Yet the love of money is insidious. Like carbon monoxide, it can kill you before you even recognize its presence. It can “plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). Judas serves as a graphic example of this reality.

We know that in order for harmful desires to be defeated, they cannot simply be suppressed. They need to be replaced by something superior. In this passage, the replacement for the love of money is “being content with what you have”. And we have a lot. Even with all of the financial stresses that most of us deal with, God has supplied us materially with far more than we actually need to survive. He has provided us with many good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).

But is that what is meant here by “what you have”? Is he giving us the same talk that we give our kids about how thankful the starving kids in Liberia would be to have a fraction of what we’ve got? If he is, we’re left with a serious problem. The problem lies in the fact that all that stuff can be taken from us, and that if it is taken from us, the instruction to be content with what we have still stands.

So do we have a foundation for contentment that will remain in place even if our material possessions are stripped from us? We do, and the writer of Hebrews makes it clear what he’s intending: we are to be content with what we have, “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’”. In other words, what we’re called to be content with is God. And not only is God infinitely superior to every earthly blessing we have, but He has also promised that He will never be taken from us.

When we take hold of the fact that our one infinitely superior Treasure can never be taken from us, contentment will be established and fear will be destroyed. For if God is for us, what can anyone else do to us? They can take away many things from us, but only those things which will soon be taken from us anyway. They can take our money but not our treasure, our house but not our home, our head but not our life. They cannot separate us from the love and grace of God, which He will put on display by showing kindness to us in Christ forever (Ephesians 2:7).

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