The Book of Hebrews #71 chapter 13:5-6
The Book of Hebrews
Christian Ethics, Part 4:
The Principles of Contentment
Hebrews 13:5-6
 
Chapter 13 of the book of Hebrews is all about Christian ethics.  It’s not an exhaustive study of every Christian Ethic, but some specific topics the author brings to the attention of the original hearers.
 
Chances are, because the Bible is very practical, these were issues that needed to be addressed at that time and location.  That is true of all of the pastoral letters.  That doesn’t mean that don’t have anything to say to us; it just gives us an historical setting for the writing.
 
And the goal is that the lives of believers match what we say we believe.  That’s extremely important because how else will what we teach be believable if not backed up by our behavior.  What we believe is how we behave.  That’s why Jesus said to the people of is day, to listen to what the scribes and Pharisees taught, but don’t do what they do.  There was a disconnect between their teaching and their behavior.
 
And in fact, if we do not support Christianity by our lives, then in the face of the world we make God a liar, Jesus Christ a fraud and Christianity a joke.  So practical holiness is strategic before the world if we will proclaim the doctrine upon which we have been founded. We must live the kind of life that is needful in order for people to listen to what we say.
 
 
But that’s not the only reason we need to embrace Christian ethics.  Obviously it validates our witness, but it also impacts our personal joy.
 
A Christian who does not live according to God's standards lives apart from the joy that is his. You can't sin and disobey all of God's standards and be a happy Christian. It just doesn't work that way, because you're living against what you know is right. That creates guilt and insecurity and pretty soon you're a miserable, unhappy person. And so, standards of living are given not only as a witness to the world, but as a source of joy to the believer.
 
So as the author writes of these principles of conduct, those two goals are in mind.  First, the salvation of the lost and secondly, the personal joy that comes through obedience to the Word of God.
 
The ethics are divided into three sections.  The first is in relation to others.  We saw that in verses 1-3 where he lays down two basic features of Christian conduct toward others. The first one was sustained love. We saw that in verse 1, "Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware." He says let brotherly love continue, sustained love, even towards strangers.
 
Secondly, not only sustained love, but sympathy. And this really comes out of love. It's just another dimension of it. And that's in verse 3, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them." Sympathy is actually suffering with empathy.  It is seeking to identify with the need and experience what another is going through.
 
And as Christians, we are to be sympathetic.  So that is the first category and it deals with our relationship to others.
 
Secondly, he deals with the Christian's conduct in relation to himself.  First on the list is sexual purity.
 
Verse 4
 
In my opinion that is an encouragement to behavior, not a statement of fact.  Marriage is to be honorable and the marriage bed undefiled.  God has given us this wonderful gift of marriage to enjoy.  Make sure you don’t misuse or squander the gift and void your testimony and forfeit your joy.
 
There is a second characteristic concerning ourselves, as far as our ethics are concerned and it is found in
 
Verse 5
 
Not only are we to practice sexual purity, but towards ourselves we need to have satisfaction.
 
Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6 that “godliness with contentment is great gain”. If you want to tell the world about Jesus and experience immeasurable joy, then learn to be content with what you have.
 
Are you satisfied with what you have? This follows very closely on the idea of sexual activity, because you know, that's a great area of temptation, isn't it? Just because you're married doesn't mean that Satan doesn't sometimes tempt you to long after something else. That's covetousness, and covetousness is a terrible evil.
Whether it's coveting a neighbor's wife, or coveting money, or things or possessions, material things, whatever it is. It's an un Christ-like characteristic.
 
And I may be wrong, but I don’t think in 30 years of pasturing a Baptist church, I have ever had a person come to me confessing the sin of covetousness.  I think they’ve confessed some things that were the result of covetousness, but never that in and of itself.
 
But if we would be honest, it’s a sin that every one of us fight.  We want the latest and newest and biggest and best and more money, promotion, bigger house, bigger car. This is a temptation for all of us. Nicer clothes, all of these things. And it's a very serious thing.
 
God says I want you to be, in a word, satisfied.
 
Look at this verse.
 
Verse 5
 
Take everything I've got, what do I care? Now these Hebrews to whom he's writing had lost a lot.  Back in chapter 10, verse 32-34, that’s mentioned.  They’d lost everything. And there might have been a few of them saying boy, we got to get back what we lost, and they were getting sidetracked on earning back their wages, and getting back their money, and trying to find their inheritances that they had been robbed of, and they were maybe digging back in that direction, and he simply says to them, hey, just be satisfied with what you’ve got and don't worry if somebody took everything you have. If you have the Lord, you have it all.
Do you believe that? If a man has everything, and doesn’t have Christ, he has nothing. But if he has nothing, but has Christ, he has everything. Let's face it, you're going to lose it anyway. Either here now, or in the next few weeks, or in a few months, or when you die, or when Jesus comes.
 
Now, the most common form of covetousness is the love of money or material things and in regard to that I want to point out something from verse 5
 
Notice the phrase, "without covetousness".  That is one word in the Greek that is formed from three words.  The word is “aphilarguros”.   If you take it back apart, you have "A" which negates the word it precedes.  It is used kind of like our prefix “dis” or “non”.
 
The second word is “phileo” which to means to like or love as a brother.  Then “Arguros” is the greek word for silver. So “philarguros”, which would be “covetous” in English means to like silver or to love money.
 
Here the text says “let your conduct be “apilarguos”, without covetousness or without the love of money.  The translation is simply be satisfied without the love of silver. If you begin to love money, you are sinning against God. And what would be the result of sining against God?
 
An ineffective testimony and lack of joy in your own life. Luke 12:15 says, "And he said unto them take heed and beware of covetousness for a man's life consists not in the abundance of things he possesses." In other words, tThat's not life. Lusting after material riches is sin.
It’s not wrong to have money, it's just wrong to lust after it. The Bible doesn't say money is the root of all evil. It's says the love of money is the root of all evil. In fact, you know, Deuteronomy 8:18 says God is the one who gives you power to get wealth, and some of the wealthiest men in the world were godly men.  Men like Job and Abraham, and even today.
 
But here's the key exhortation, and don't forget it, Psalm 62:10, listen to this: "If riches increase [and they might] set not thine heart upon them." Did you hear that? That's the key. You may get it; if you get it, don't love it. And that's exactly where the injunction needs to be given.
 
Let me read you the rest of 1 Timothy 6:6.
 
"But 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 clothing, let us be content." If you have food and clothing, be content. Where are you going to get that? Did God promise to give you that? Do you ever have to worry about what you shall eat? Do you ever have to worry about what you shall wear? No. Do you ever have to worry? No. Do you ever worry? Yes. "But they that will be rich fall into temptation." It doesn't say the rich fall into temptation, but they that will be rich.
 
Those who desire riches fall victim to the law of decreasing satisfaction.  No matter how much you have, you always want more.
 
 
 
 
"They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and many foolish hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, while some having coveted after it have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows, But thou, o man of God, flee these things."
 
Don't ever get into the position where you're more concerned about your bank balance or your retirement portfolio than your spiritual life. You're to learn to be content with whatever you have.
 
God says, Learn to be satisfied with what you have.”
 
Then we have this quote form Psalm 118:6.
 
Even if someone steals everything you have, what do you care? Discontent is sin.  Just trust the Lord to take care of you.  How do you do that? Think first o all about
 
1. Biblical Reality
 
 Let me give you some things to dwell on.  First of all, dwell on
 
  • God’s Goodness
 
Contentment comes when you realize God is good. Did you hear that? Paul said "All things work together for good to them that love God." Paul said, "My God shall supply all your needs." Do you know God's good? If he's good, will he take care of you?
 
Then, dwell on
 
  • God’s Omniscience
 
He knows what you need before you ever ask. He knows what you need.
You can put Psalm 37 down there, 18, 19 and 25--never see the Lord's children begging bread. Luke 12:30.
 
The third thing, dwell on
 
  • God's Sovereignty
 
God is in control of things.  Now here’s what’s hard to accept sometimes.  Some people God wants to be poor, and for others, He wants them to be rich.  Some don’t believe that.
 
In fact, you will never hear the name-it –and-claim-it bunch preach on 1 Samuel 2:7, but it is a very interesting verse.  It’s a part of Hannah’s prayer and it says:
 
"The Lord makes poor, and makes rich."
 
Did you know that? The Lord is in charge of all that. "He raises up the poor out of the dust, lifts up the beggar from the trash to set them among princes, and make them inherit the throne of glory."
 
But He has a plan and He knows what He’s doing. Just trust Him.  He knows who gets what, and He gives who gets what. He's sovereign.
 
 
 
 
 
  • Your Unworthiness
 
Think about what you deserve rather than what you have or don’t have.  Make your life verse Genesis 32:10, "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies." Is that right?
 
That's right! You know what I have? Everything I have I don't deserve. I'm rich.
 
Then, finally, dwell on
 
  • What True Riches Really Are
 
You know who's really poor--the world? Colossians 3:2, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Do you really know true riches? Do you really know what is rich? You're so rich in Christ.
 
Contentment comes from realization of all those things. Then secondly it comes from
 
2.  Spending Time with God
 
Do you spend time with God? The longer you concentrate on His glory, the less you're going to care about money. When you're lost in Jesus Christ, you are so overwhelmed with how rich you are, that you could care less about anything else. So immerse yourself in the world of Biblical reality and just fellowship with God and you will be well on the way to realizing the satisfaction that God has in mind for you to enjoy.
 
Let's pray.
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