Know What You’ve Got
Let your conduct be without covetousnesses; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor for sake you.”Hebrews 13:5
Wanting what others have comes from either insecurity or greed. When we feel insecure, we check out what others have, what they wear, what they drive, where they go on vacation, and all other external measuring sticks. We have a pecking order in our minds, and we see where we are on the list. If we are far enough up the list, we feel OK, but if we are too far down, we crave the trappings that promise to make us look successful and beautiful. On the other hand, we may just be greedy and want more than what we have. Either way, craving things steals our hearts and ruins relationships.
The writer to the Hebrews tells us to recognize, coveting, no matter what it’s cause, and get rid of it, replacing it with a deep sense of contentment. Where does the contentment come from? From acknowledging that everything we have and every thing we are comes from God. For our hearts to be filled with His grace and strength, we don’t need anything else. The absence of things, however, it’s only part of the story of contentment. True contentment comes from a rich, relationship with Christ. His promises to be as near as our breath, and he will never leave us for a second.
A craving for things reveals an empty–or at least a partially empty heart, one that can be filled and overflowing with the presence of our King, Savior, and Best Friend.
“It is a dangerous thing to ask why someone else has been given more. It is humbling and indeed healthy to ask why you have been given so much”.
Learning to be content is also learning to trust God. Jesus told us that worrying about what we will eat or what we will wear comes because we do not know about the care of the Father.
“Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life? And why are you worried about clothes? See how the lilies and wildflowers of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin [wool to make clothing], yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory and splendor dressed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive and green today and tomorrow is [cut and] thrown [as fuel] into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
The Israelites traveling through the wilderness were often greatly concerned, and rightfully so since they were not passing wells or grocery stores, about what they would eat or drink. We read that they responded to their perceived lack with complaining and murmuring, going so far as plotting to kill Moses and go back to Egypt. Not much has changed since then fir as we journey through this life sometimes we go through a wilderness experience, I think with inflation and the rising fuel prices, this is something of a wilderness experience. The Israelites had no other resource than God and in reality neither do we. So they were to learn the lesson of trusting that God would supply their need. Paul in Philippians 4:19 tells us:
“And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Along their journey, God provided water from a rock in the desert twice, manna from Heaven daily, and quail as an added blessing. The sad part of the story is that the Israelites never learned to trust God and never learned to be content with what God was providing them. I realize that they had been slaves so they knew too well lack, but I’m also convinced that God showed His care enough that they had opportunity to trust Him.
Jesus told another group to learn to trust God just as the insignificant sparrow did or the lilies of the field that were unattended did. He told us that if God took care of them, we could trust Him to take care of us.
I recognize that we live in concerning times and the fears are real. We all are aware of our obligations and need. Most of us think about paying the bills, buying the groceries, and putting fuel in our cars along with a myriad of other things that have to be replaced or repaired. Most of us don’t have excessive amounts of resource available so we find ourselves being anxious. But Jesus in Matthew 6 tell us to stop being anxious and replace our anxiety with trust in God. Some may say that we have never faced such challenging times and they may well be true, but God has and the people of God have and somehow God has taken care of His people.
David, near the end of his life penned these words:
“Do not worry because of evildoers, Nor be envious toward wrongdoers; For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb. Trust [rely on and have confidence] in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed [securely] on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him also and He will do it. He will make your righteousness [your pursuit of right standing with God] like the light, And your judgment like [the shining of] the noonday [sun]. Be still before the Lord; wait patiently for Him and entrust yourself to Him; Do not fret (whine, agonize) because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and abandon wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evil. For those who do evil will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. For yet a little while and the wicked one will be gone [forever]; Though you look carefully where he used to be, he will not be [found]. But the humble will [at last] inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity and peace. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, And their inheritance will continue forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, And in the days of famine they will have plenty and be satisfied. For those blessed by God will [at last] inherit the land, But those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, And He delights in his way [and blesses his path]. When he falls, he will not be hurled down, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand and sustains him. I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous (those in right standing with God) abandoned Or his descendants pleading for bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, And his descendants are a blessing.”
The writer of Hebrews tells us that since God never abandons us, we can trust in His care and provision in every situation. Our confidence isn’t in what we have but in the One who has us. Our hope isn’t in our strength or abilities but in the One who created us. Jesus again tells us that we just learn to ask, seek and knock. Listen to what He promises if we do that:
“Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will [instead] give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will [instead] give him a snake? If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him.”
As you can see I’ve given you a lot of scripture today because I wanted to give you what the Bible says about the subject of trusting God and learning to be content. I want to give you a final one:
“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
I pray today that you will receive from God such peace and that you will know that you can fully trust Him to keep you and to provide for you even in the most adverse conditions. I pray that in the wait that you will learn to be content with what you have until God chooses to bless you with more. I pray that you will have a generous heart, willing to give and share for you know that the same God who blessed you with what you have will bless you with more as you bless others. I pray that you will be liberated from worry and fear and anxiety and instead you will receive the “peace that passes all understanding.” May you know the keeping power of God until He comes!
Dr. John Thompson