Summary: Be content because God has promised to never leave or forsake us.
We’re continuing again in the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews. The writer has encouraged the readers to finish the race set before them and to cling only to Christ who is greater than all creation. In our last study we saw that running this race means sexual purity. This week it’s all about contentment:
5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:
A more accurate translation should say, “Without love of money, let your manner of life be satisfied with present circumstances.” This is such an appropriate verse for our day. We’ve got cell phones and tablets and two or three cars, houses, more food than we can eat, diversions and distractions and everything under the sun, and we’re still not happy. We complain if the electricity goes out or if our phones don’t have service or if the line at the cash register is too long because we’re not keeping in mind one very important fact:
for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
This is a quote from several different places, and it’s the basis for our contentment. Be content right now for God has promised never to leave you. “Leave” is a word used in a few other places: in Acts 16:26 it describes how the handcuffs on the prisoners were “loosed.” In Acts 27:40 it describes how the sailors let go of the rudder and quit trying to steer the ship. And finally, in Ephesians 6:9 Paul tells masters to give up threatening their slaves. God will not give up on us or let us go.
This is an important fact because it shows how involved God is in our lives. Our life in Him and His promise to us never was and never will be dependent on our performance. He puts His law in our hearts and minds (Heb. 10:16) and He works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). The promise is not a reward for obedience, but rather obedience is a product of the promise. He’s got a firm grip on us, and like it or not, He steers us in the direction He wants us to go. He’s like the shackles on a prisoner and like the sailor on a ship—everything is constrained and directed by Him.
He’s also promised to never forsake you. Plato uses this same Greek word to tell how a man who is in love has so much courage that he would never leave his comrades “in the lurch.” God will not leave us in the lurch either. He’s with us now, and He’s not going anywhere. He’s going to fight our battles, and He will win.
The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said. 4And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed. 5And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you. 6Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 7And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. 8And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed (Dt. 31:3-8).
The basis of Joshua’s courage was that the Lord would be with him. And later on God proved faithful to His promise: And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword (Josh. 10:11).
Just as sexual purity demonstrates spiritual faithfulness, so contentment reveals a faithful trust in the God who promises to be our provider. This is the opposite of idolatry and rebellion, and that’s why Paul exhorts: Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Col. 3:2-5).