Summary: If you want to find true contentment even in your pain, love strangers; love those who suffer; love your spouse; but most of all, love your Savior and Lord, not money.
Philip Yancey, in an article in Christianity Today about prayer, talks about a man who interrupted his busy life to spend a few days in a monastery, looking for spiritual direction and peace.
“I hope your stay is a blessed one,” said the monk who showed the visitor to his cell. “If you need anything, let us know, and we'll teach you how to live without it.” (Philip Yancey, “What 147 Elk Taught Me About Prayer,” Christianity Today, March 2006; www.PreachingToday.com)
People think they need so many things, but true happiness is not found in having what you want. It’s found in wanting what you have.
That’s called contentment, but the $64 million-dollar question is: How can one find true contentment? How can one find genuine satisfaction and experience the peace that comes with it? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Hebrews 13, Hebrews 13, where we find the secret of true contentment.
Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue. (ESV).
You see, the book of Hebrews was written to First Century Christians who had lost a lot in life because of their faith. They had lost their friends, their family, their jobs, and some of them had lost even their lives.
As a result, these Christians were tempted to give up on Christ. But the author of Hebrews, after demonstrating the overwhelming benefits of a relationship with Christ, urges his discouraged readers: Don’t give up your faith (chapter 11); Don’t give up your hope (chapter 12); and Don’t give up your love (chapter 13). Or as he puts it here in verse 1: let brotherly love continue! In other words, don’t stop loving one another! For that’s where you find true contentment and satisfaction in life especially when you’ve lost so much.
You don’t find it in the things you lost and/or hope to gain. You find true contentment in your relationships. So, in the midst of your loss and pain, don’t stop loving people! Let brotherly love continue. Specifically…
Show hospitality to people. Take care of those God brings across your path, especially other believers.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (ESV)
The word for “hospitality” literally means “stranger-love”, or a “love for strangers.” You see, when this was written, persecution had driven many believers from their homes, and those believers depended on other believers to put them up for a night or two or more until they could find another place to live. So the writer of Hebrews urges his readers to show hospitality to these strangers, who had been displaced from their homes.
Take care of them, because who knows, you might entertain angels without even knowing it. That’s what happened to Abraham (in Genesis 18) when three strangers showed up at his home one day in the middle of the afternoon. He and his wife Sarah prepared a meal for them, and they turned out to be the Lord Himself and two of His angels.
Now, the same thing could happen to you if you choose to show hospitality to strangers, because you never know WHO they might be until you get to know them.
One day at the beginning of last year (January 2017), Sam Snow, a Washington D.C. cab driver was talking to his passengers about football. He mentioned that even though he was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, his all-time favorite player was Broncos legend John Elway. The passengers then asked him if he thought he could recognize Elway if he ever met him. Snow then turned around to realize that the famous former quarterback, who was in Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration, was in fact riding in his own backseat. The two snapped a quick picture, but only after Snow chastised Elway for beating his Steelers so many times in the playoffs. (“Cab Driver Praises John Elway, Then Learns He's Driving Him,” Yahoo! News, 1-24-17; www.PreachingToday.com)
You never know who God might bring across your path, so don’t hesitate to show some hospitality.
I like the way C. S. Lewis put it in his book The Weight of Glory. He writes:
Remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, HarperOne, 2001, p. 46; www.PreachingToday.com)