February 25, 2007
CONTENT WITH WHAT WE HAVE
"Let your manner of life be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Our manner of life is to be without covetousness. To covet is to wrongfully desire things without regard for the rights of others. Such can overtake one almost unawares. Paul said that he did not sense the presence of sin in his life, except that the Law said, "Thou shalt not covet." This is the man who also said that according to the "righteousness of the law," he was "blameless." He covered this with a sacrifice for a "sin of ignorance."
Later he wrote, "Mortify (put to death) therefore your members which are...fornication, uncleanness...and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5). Unmasked, covetousness is truly idolatry, much worse than we supposed. The antithesis of contentment, these two cannot exist together.
Always accompanying idolatry was immorality and vice. Thus our preceding verses exhorted honoring of marriage and avoiding defilement of the bed, for "fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4). Saints of God are to avoid such defilements of the world around us. Even where the heavenly city is in view, God is the "Judge of all" (12:23). God has provided for our contentment within the bonds of marriage and wrote,
"Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband... Defraud ye not one the other" (1 Cor. 7:3-5).
These are the words of a man who had "...learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." He was not asking us to do the impossible. But how did he do it? His answer is clear, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me" (Phil 4:11-13).
Paul wrote Timothy, "...godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." He followed with a warning that "...those who desire to be rich will fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition...and many sorrows" (1 Tim. 6:6-9).
Ivan L. Burgener