************ Sermon on Hebrews 13:5-6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 5, 2017
"The Love of Money and Contentment"
Hebrews 13 is what we know as practical theology or Christian ethics. But let me remind you, the commands of Hebrews 13 only come after the doctrine of Hebrews 1-12. Before we are exhorted on how to live and walk before God, we are told about Christ and Who He is and what He has done. Here is a reminder that doctrine is the foundation on which duty is built, that the indicative of the Gospel always precedes the imperative of the Gospel, that the practical life is only possible when we have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. What am I saying? I am saying it is only because of all Christ has done for you that you are to follow what is said in Hebrews 13.
Let me remind you of the three things we have been told so far because we know Christ. First, we've been told to love our fellow believers as brothers and sisters in Christ. Second, we've been told to have compassion for those who are mistreated. Third, we've been told to honor marriage and to keep the marriage bed pure.
As we have looked at the Gospel commands of Hebrews 13 I've been telling you that a hostile and unbelieving world is watching us. I told you that we live in glass houses. I told you that the world wants to point the finger as it sees us fall and fail in the Christian life. So here is a second reason we want to live a certain way: not only because of what Christ has done but also because we want and need to be a witness to the world.
So what are we told to do this evening? As we live for Jesus, as we bear witness to a hostile and unbelieving world, we are told to keep our lives free from the love of money and to be content with what we have.
I Don't Love Money
A A young Christian lady was asked why she didn't pursue a relationship with a certain young man. The young man was handsome, successful, from a good Christian family, a member of the church. She dropped him, she said, because his goal in life was to make money. When she asked him why this was his goal in life the only answer he could give is that he wanted as much money as possible. The Lord gave her the discernment to realize such a man with such goals would make a lousy husband and father. She realized you can't love both money and the Lord.
This makes me think of the story that has been told of John D. Rockefeller. He was asked how much money he wanted. He said a million dollars. He made a million. Again he was asked how much he wanted. He said he wanted another million.Beware, congregation, beware of the love of money. That's what Hebrews says to those who live in glass houses. That's what Hebrews says to those who live for Jesus.
B Let me speak to the leaders of the church -- past leaders, present leaders, future leaders. Men, you are not qualified for church office if you are a lover of money. Did you know this is even mentioned in Paul's list of qualifications for church office? An "overseer" -- that is Paul's word for "elder" -- must not be "a lover of money" (1 Tim 3:3). You can't be in church office if you are a lover of money. It is not allowed! Why? Because you can't love both money and the Lord.
C The Bible is full of people who loved money more than they loved the Lord. Remember Balaam? Peter tells us that Balaam "loved the wages of wickedness" (2 Pet 2:15). He allowed himself to be hired by Balak, king of Moab, to put a curse on Israel. Balaam was a lover of money.
Remember Achan? He took gold and silver and a beautiful robe from Jericho. He took what was devoted to the Lord. He stole from the Lord. Achan was a lover of money.
Remember the story of Naaman? He was the commander of the army of the king of Aram and had leprosy. He went to Elisha who told him to dip seven times in the water of the River Jordan. When this brought healing, Naaman laid before Elisha ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of clothing; he wanted to pay Elisha but Elisha refused any form of payment. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, just about died about this lost opportunity. So Gehazi went running after a departing Naaman and said, "My master sent me to say, 'Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.'" This was nothing but a lie. But Naaman believed the lie and gave Gehazi what he requested. Elisha knew what his servant had done and pronounced on him God's sentence -- Gehazi was given Naaman's leprosy (cf 2 Kings 5). Gehazi was a lover of money.
Remember Judas? Because he was a lover of money he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
A number of weeks ago I read the story of a seminary student from the Philippines. His father abandoned the family for a life of drugs, gambling, and womanizing. His wife and four children suffered because of his sins: skipping meals, asking relatives for help to buy food, clothes, and other needs. The youngest son, the one who ended up in Seminary, writes that he wanted to become rich so they would not experience those hardships anymore and would no longer be despised in the eyes of their relatives. He wanted lots of money -- enough to buy his own car and run down his dad. He, too was a lover of money.
D "Keep your lives free from the love of money" (Heb 13:5). People who live in glass houses, people who live for Jesus, need to keep their lives free from the love of money. The phrase "free from the love of money" is one word in the Greek, the word "aphilarguros." "Aphilarguros," in turn, is three different Greek words joined together. The first word is "a" and turns any word into a negative. So add "a" to loving and it means not loving; add it to walking and it means not walking. The second word is "phileo" and means "to like, to love." The third "arguros" is the Greek word for "silver." Put them together and you end up with "not loving silver" or -- as our pew Bible puts it -- "free from the love of money."
Keep your life, your walk, your way of life, your behavior, your manner of life, free from the love of money. That's what Hebrews is saying. If you love money, you are sinning against God. The result? You destroy your witness before the world. And, you don't live for Jesus.
Now, I am not saying it is wrong to have money. How else do we explain the wealth God gave to Abraham and Job and Solomon? There is nothing wrong with money; but there is something terribly wrong with the love of money. The Bible doesn't say money is the root of all evil. Rather, it says the "love of money" is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim 6:10). So, congregation, if you are given money and wealth and crops and herds and houses and orchards, don't love them.
E "Keep your lives free from the love of money." This comes to expression in a multitude of ways. Some people, like John D. Rockefeller and like the young man I mentioned earlier, express their love for money in getting it, building up their bank accounts and retirement accounts, getting more and making more, making it the goal of their life. Some people express their love for money in keeping it; I'm talking about misers who don't want to spend it and certainly don't want to give any of it away; every dollar they give away is like getting blood from a turnip. Other people express their love for money by flashy displays of wealth: their cars, trucks, homes, watches, phones, clothes, recreation vehicles all shout out a message about their wealth. Realize I am not just talking about the wealthy. The poor can love money just as much as the rich; they may not have much but they love every last dollar.
F "Keep your lives free from the love of money." How do we do this as people who live in glass houses, as people who live for Jesus? How do we keep our lives free from the love of money? Let me mention something negative and then something positive. Negatively, don't make money the most important thing in your life. Positively, love God above all and your neighbor as yourself. Have a living, loving relationship with God in Christ. Spend time in Bible reading and prayer. Don't neglect the assembly of the saints in worship. The more you concentrate on God and His glory the less you will care about money. When you are lost in Jesus Christ, you are so overwhelmed with how rich you are in Christ that you care less about everything else.
II Be Content
A Here is our second point for people who live in glass houses, for people who live for Jesus. You need to "be content with what you have" (Heb 13:5).
Are you satisfied with what you have? Or, are you forever jealous that someone has something bigger, better, newer, or more advanced than what you have? Do you covet what others have: more money, bigger house, newer car, nicer clothes, better spouse, promotion at work, starting lineup on the team, higher grades at school?
Covetousness is one of those slippery sins, hard to nail down, something that none of us thinks he has. Something we think the other person has. Spurgeon, the great preacher of the 1800's, said, "I've seen thousands of people converted, but I've never seen a covetous person converted." Obviously covetous people do get converted. Spurgeon was saying this tongue-in-cheek. What he meant was he had never heard anybody say, "You know, my problem before I got saved was covetousness."
Another theologian (Francis Xavier) put it this way: "I have listened to multiplied thousands of confessions. I've yet to have one person ever confess the sin of covetousness."
Hebrews is warning people who live in glass houses not to covet. Instead, be satisfied, be content, which what you have.
B Why do you think this was written to the Hebrew Christians? If you remember back to Hebrews 10, many of them had lost a lot, maybe even everything:
(Heb 10:34) You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.This got me wondering. Do you think any of the Hebrew Christians were saying to themselves, "I got to get back what I lost: my property, my wages, my inheritance, my home, my business"? And Hebrews simply says to them, "Be satisfied, be content, with what you have."
C I love reciting Psalm 23:1 to the sick and dying and distressed. Most of you know this verse: "The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want." I tell them, "If you have the Lord, you have everything. If you don't have the Lord, you have nothing." Don't ever get into the position, congregation, where you are more concerned about your bank balance than your spiritual life. This is the perspective that Hebrews comes from when it tells you to "be content with what you have." Back to the story of the seminary student from the Philippines. By the grace of God he realized it does no good to gain the world if he lost his soul (cf Mk 8:36).
Notice the two Old Testament quotes in verses 5 & 6. The first comes from Deuteronomy 31: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Moses said this was God's promise to the children of Israel. Moses said this just before he died and Joshua took over. It was really easy for the people of Israel to wonder how they could possibly manage without Moses. After all, Moses led them out of Egypt. He led them for 40 years through the wilderness. More than once he interceded on their behalf before God. He was God's mouthpiece. He was used of God to give them bread and water and protection from enemies. "What are we going to do without Moses?" "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." When you have the Lord you have everything you need. When you have the Lord you will not be in want.
The second quote comes from Psalm 118: "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" They can confiscate your property -- what do you care? They can take your home -- so what? They can empty your bank account -- so? They can steal your business -- accept this with joy. Again, when you have the Lord you have everything you need. When you have the Lord you will not be in want.
D "Be content with what you have." How do you get contentment? To be content you need to know three things about God, one thing about yourself, and one thing about true riches.
First, you need to know God is supreme. He Who created the heavens and earth out of nothing is more than able to give you whatever you need for body and soul.
Second, you need to know God is a loving Father. Which means He wants to give you whatever you need for body and soul.
Third, you need to know God is omniscient. He knows exactly what you need for body and soul. He knows what you need even before you ask.
Fourth, you need to know what you deserve. What do you deserve? What do I deserve? Nothing. That's right: we deserve nothing. Our words and our attitude should be the same as that of Jacob. He had just left his father-in-law and was on his way back to the Promised Land. He said, "I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant" (Gen 32:10). We deserve nothing. We have earned nothing.
Fifth, you need to know what makes for true riches. True riches are not found here on earth but in heaven.
(Mt 6:19-20) Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
People who live in glass houses, people who live for Jesus, keep their lives free from the love of money. And, they are content with what they have from God.
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