Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”
In this day and age our society seems to have embraced the philosophy of “keeping up with the Jonses” to a staggeringly decadent degree. Advertisers, almost blatantly, tell us to get ours first so that we will be the envy of our neighbors. Our coworkers brag about the latest item they purchased and how much more awesome it is than whatever similar item they used to have. We are encouraged to, not only want what our neighbor has, but to want better items.
Not surprisingly, this is exactly the opposite view espoused by the author of Hebrews. They encourage us to “be without covetousness” or envy and to be “content”’ with what we have. So I guess the unasked question in Hebrews 13:5 is, are you happy with what you have?
Well, are you?
If you’ve fallen for the message of modern society you’ve probably just answered no. If you did, why did you? What can you do to change your outlook? Is it not enough that the Lord has promised to “never leave you nor forsake you”?
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
You Shall Not Covet. The tenth commandment that God gave to Moses for the Israelites tells us that there is no greener grass on the other side of the fence. Well, not exactly but you can see how I got there. God commands not to covet what your neighbor has. “You don’t want that stuff. I’ve got stuff for you that is better for you than his stuff would be,” says the Lord. The only problem is that we aren’t listening. His still small voice is being drowned out by fear.
“Fear? What do you mean fear?”
I’m glad you asked. The constant barrage of messages in this society are meant to induce fear. Fear of being ridiculed for having less. Fear of not being able to satisfy whatever urge you have. Fear that there isn’t enough time or money to get your fair share of the good stuff. Fear that everyone else is doing better than you are. Fear that you won’t be able to have nice clothes to wear or enough to eat?
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Do Not Fear. Yes I know that the above verse from Matthew says “do not worry” but according to synonyms.com worry is a synonym of fear. In other words, they’re the same thing. Worry is fear and fear is worry. We should do neither.
Jesus tells us, in this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, that instead of fear and worry we should seek “the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. When we do this God will provide the rest of our needs. Notice, I said needs. Needs are our housing, food and clothes. Needs are not fancier cars, more powerful computing devices or perfect spouses. Those are wants and/or luxuries; they don’t matter.
The Lord is Our Helper. Most of us are familiar with the 23rd Psalm. In it we are told that the Lord is our shepherd. That he provides rest, food and safety even in the shadow of death. We have nothing to fear because He is our helper. He walks beside us and guides us. Sometimes, as stated in the poem “Footprints in the Sand”, he even carries us.
With the Lord as our helper we have no need of fear. We know that he will provide our needs, and all we really need to do is take our eyes off of what everyone else has and turn them toward seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. What more could we possibly want?