Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. Heb 13:5
I don’t have a problem with coveting great riches. Sounds to me like way too much to have to worry about. But I do have a problem with wanting ‘just a little bit more’. I’ve been volunteering at a ministry I love for the last few years. It fits me to a tee, so much so that I’ve gradually assumed ownership of it and become the manager of my department. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and been rewarded with a sense of accomplishment, but this niggling sense of coveting more of a reward for my energies has spoiled the job for me. I have had to step back and evaluate my motives. What is it that keeps me going when there is no monetary gain? Is the simplicity of serving Christ enough? Do I believe that godliness with contentment is the greatest possible gain?
I don’t want much, but a little more pocket money would be nice. A greater freedom to spend without scrimping, a little more leisure to travel, perhaps a few more ‘treats’. With a little more money I could be a better Grandma–more visits to those kids, and I’d have more to share, right? A little more would just be… better, right? I mean, I don’t want much…
But God’s Word is a searchlight, a living and active sword that slices into my inmost thoughts and exposes the truth. This ‘little more’ that seems so innocent, that promises to satisfy, is a ruse, and a distraction from serving God wholeheartedly. The thief who comes to steal contentment is on the prowl. God’s Word flashes like the signal at a railway crossing: Keep yourselves free from the love of money! Be content with what you have.
What makes me think that if I had a little more money, I could do more better (and happier)? The case for contentment is strong. The road in pursuit of wealth is potholed with hazards.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
I Tim.6:10 NIV
Desire unleashed from design is a bottomless pit.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. I Tim. 6:9 NIV
But the reason that outshines them all is this:
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5 ESV)
Jesus is saying: You have ME! What more could you want?!
This flies in the face of the business-savvy opportunism which urges us on every hand to monetize our abilities and to measure our worth by the money we are able to generate. Do you write? Let us help you figure out how to make money at it… You volunteer? You’re worth more than that… You’ve found a great deal at the Thrift store, re-sell it on Facebook… Your kids are in school? you should get a job–make something of yourself… What’s that in your hand? Use it to make money!
God’s agenda is so different. In His calling to Moses it was God who took what Moses had and made it into something far greater than Moses could have accomplished on his own. He instructed Moses to throw down what was in his hand and see what God would do with it, to demonstrate God’s power to those he served so that they would believe that God had sent him. Moses’ impoverished situation tending someone else’s sheep alone in the desert was the starting point, not for material gain, but for availability to be God’s mouthpiece.[Exodus 4] And His pay? Well, he worked for a reward money couldn’t touch that would come after all the faithfulness:
“choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Heb 11:24-26 ESV
The reproach of Christ is still greater wealth than any pyramid scheme can offer though His advice seems so outmoded:
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Lk. 12:15 ESV
But what if I were to live from a faith paradigm, seeing Jesus as my all sufficient Saviour and Lord?
- The world and everything in it belongs to Him, my rightful Master (Ps. 50:12).
- He has promised to supply the needs of those who serve Him (Phil.4:19,20).
- He has invited me to freely ask for whatever I need (I Jn.3:22)
How does needing ‘just a little more’ fit this paradigm? Would ‘a little more’ make me a better servant of God? Or would it just enable me to have my own ‘spending money’ to do with as I please? Would it fuel godliness or merely independence? And would I in fact be more generous than I am now if I had more money?
These are all questions I’ve had to face up to lately. In the Word I read that I already have everything that I need to fulfill my calling.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. II Pet.1:3 NIV
If I still perceive a need, I am welcome to ask! (with full awareness that my motives will affect the outcome as per James 4:3) God may supply a paying job and the skills to do it, or He may supply contentment. But my ultimate need has nothing to do with money or ‘stuff’–my greatest need is to find contentment in the knowledge of the One who calls me to Himself and to His Service.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Ps. 37:4-5 ESV
When His desires have eclipsed my own petty ‘wants’, the lure of ‘a little more’ will fade leaving only the desire to be a better servant to the One who has paid an inestimable price to buy me out of the slavemarket where Mammon is master.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. I Pet.1:18-19 NIV
I have the best Boss and the best benefits in existence! Would I trade this for coveting a paycheck? He knows my every need and my heart’s desires. Whether I work for ‘free’ or for money is not the issue, but keeping my bearings about Who I am actually serving and What He has called me to do is critical. He equips me with everything I need to do His will. I can trust Him with the details.
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Ps. 34:9-10 ESV
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. II Cor. 9:10-11 ESV
All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. I Cor. 3:21-23 NIV
Lord, make us a gracious and generous people since we have already freely received so much. Remind us that we have been bought with a price. We are not our own. Make us faithful servants working only for the pleasure of your smile for we belong body and soul to You, our faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
This post is long enough, but I cannot close without pointing you to Balaam’s tale. He said all the right things: “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the LORD my God.” (Num. 22:18 NIV) but something was clearly amiss in his heart. It took a talking donkey and an angel with a sword to direct him in the way he should have gone in the first place, away from temptation!
May we be people that cannot be bought, for whom money is not a determining factor in our service.
As I was in the process of getting this post ready a beautiful illustration of Heb.13:5 came through cyperspace in the form of an article by Kaitlyn Bouchillon at Incourage. She reminds us that many things besides money can erode our contentment. What is it you long for? She makes the case for letting it be Jesus alone. Winsomely said, her post is here:
https://www.incourage.me/2019/10/the-list-i-cant-throw-away.html by Kaitlyn Bouchillon