“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb 13:4-6)
Last Sunday, we started to talk about the last chapter of Hebrews. In this chapter, the author urges the readers to live out their faith in practical ways. In the first three verses, the author talks about how we should love.
We are to “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters” (Heb 13:1). Loving one another is the greatest proof that we are Jesus’ disciples. When we love one another by sacrificing what we have the way Jesus loved us, the world sees Jesus’ love through our lives. What’s important in loving one another is persistence. We’re not only commanded to love one another, but to continue to do so.
We’re also to “show hospitality to strangers” (Heb 13:2). The recipients of our love shouldn’t be limited to just our brothers and sisters. To be Christians is to see others through God’s perspective and look after those in need the way we would treat Jesus.
Lastly, we’re to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Heb 13:3)
It’s not easy for us to love our brothers and sisters, strangers, and others in these ways. So we must remember the amazing love God has shown us through Jesus Christ and be filled with it. The more we remember Jesus’ love for us and experience it in our daily lives, the better we’ll be able to love and serve others through his love overflowing from our hearts.
4) Marriage Should Be Honored
Today, I want us to go over some more practical ways to live out our faith. Verse 4 says,
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb 13:4).
Now, the author talks about love in marriage. There are many kinds of important relationships, but I think the most important one is the relationship between a husband and a wife. That’s the first human relationship God created in the garden of Eden, which forms the basis of all other relationships.
A lot of problems in our society are caused by broken family relationships. So, we must be careful to maintain good relationships with our spouses. I’m sad to see what’s happening in the world that makes it necessary for us to be reminded of the importance of the relationship between a husband and a wife.
It would seem that keeping the marriage bed pure would be a given, but the author of Hebrews had to mention it because there were sexual problems at that time even among Christians. We see the same problems and their terrible results today.
So, we should honor our spouses. We should love our spouses as Jesus loved us. We should avoid doing anything that may weaken our marriages.
This verse that was written 2,000 years ago is still surprisingly applicable in our lives. God will not ignore the sin of adultery. He will judge all the adulterers and the sexually immoral. We’re to follow God’s standard, not the standard of the world.
5) Be Content with What You Have
Let’s move on to the next verse. In verse 5, the author urges us to “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Heb 13:5).
Here, the author talks about the love of money and contentment. We all know the importance of money. It has great value and many people chase after it.
Some find security in money. They think that if their bank account is a certain size then everything will be alright. Some think that they can buy happiness with money. They think that they will be happier when they have more money.
It seems that money has replaced God. Many people don’t believe in God anymore because they think money will enable them to meet all their needs.
I don’t want to deny the fact that money is important in our lives. Without money we can’t afford things we need such as food, housing, cars, insurance, and more.
I also agree that money brings us satisfaction. I remember what my professor said 12 years ago. He defined happiness as the ability to have more choices. For example, if you can only spend 10 dollars for lunch, your food choices are limited.
But, if you have more money, you have more choices, which my professor said brings satisfaction and happiness. I agree with his opinion to some extent. Money does bring satisfaction and happiness in a way.
Money has great power and influence in people's lives, so it’s no wonder that most people strive to make more money and consider it a top priority in their lives.
However, we also should remember that there are things that we can’t earn with money. Money can guarantee our safety and security to a certain point, but there are a lot of problems that can’t be solved even if you spend a lot of money on them.
Money gives us satisfaction, but that satisfaction is limited to our physical needs. It can never fully satisfy our souls and spirits which can be only satisfied through our relationship with God.
Money can give us comfortable lives in this world, but it has nothing to do with our lives after death. You can only enjoy temporary things in the world. You can’t buy a ticket to the kingdom of God with money. You can’t buy eternal things. So, money is important, but it must not be our priority or what we value most in our lives.
Hebrews 11:3 says,
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Heb 11:3)
As I said before, according to this verse, everything visible was made out of what was invisible—God word. It means that what we see through our physical eyes is not everything. What’s invisible and spiritual is much more important than what’s visible because the former laid the foundation for the latter and so what’s seen is dependent on what’s unseen.
Money can give us what’s seen. But it has nothing to do with what’s unseen, which is more fundamental and more important. So, as Christians, we should pay more attention to spiritual values than to worldly things.
Revelation chapters 2 and 3 compare two early churches. Jesus said to the church in Laodicea,
“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Rv 3:17-18)
Although the members of the church in Laodicea looked rich and abundant outwardly, the reality was that they were poor and naked spiritually.
Because they were rich, they thought they didn’t need anything. They didn’t seek Jesus because their spiritual eyes were blinded by their possessions and wealth. That made their spirits poor. So Jesus told them to become rich spiritually.
By contrast, Jesus said to the church in Smyrna,
“I know your afflictions and your poverty - yet you are rich!... Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer... Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” (Rv 2:8-9)
Unlike the church in Laodicea, the church in Smyrna had severe financial problems. Its members were undergoing difficulties. They suffered from poverty. But Jesus revealed to them that they were actually rich in God because they would end up receiving true eternal life from him.
Which church do you think you are more similar to or want to be like? The church in Laodicea which was rich from the point of view of the world but poor and naked spiritually, or the church in Smyrna which suffered from poverty, but was rich spiritually?
The love of money may make you rich in the world, but it will make you poor spiritually. You can’t love money and God at the same time. As Jesus said,
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Mt 6:24)
So, not loving money is one of the important teachings we should keep in mind as Christians. We can find many passages in the Bible that warn us not to love money or worldly things. Greed will only satisfy our own desires. It prevents us from seeking the good of others and fulfilling their needs. It divides our hearts and makes us serve two masters so that we end up not trusting God, and turning away from him.
So, what should we say about money and worldly things? Money itself is not a problem. Money has a neutral value. We can use it for good or for bad. Money is necessary to live. It often takes money to help others. God knows that we need money.
The problem is when we love money, rely on it more than God, and prioritize it in our lives.
So, what the author advises us in today’s passage is very helpful. After saying, “Keep your lives free from the love of money,” he added, “be content with what you have” (Heb 13:5)
Here, what the author suggests as the opposite of loving money is being content. The opposite of loving money is not hating money or trying to deny its importance. It is to be content with what we have.
As Christians, we don’t deny the need for money. Rather, we don’t worry about how to make more money or to get more valuable things in the world.
Instead, we are grateful for the possessions we already have, and we delight in our spiritual blessings that are more satisfying. Our eyes are to be fixed on spiritual wealth that lasts forever, not on worldly things that have no value after death.
So, we should put our hope in God alone and place him first in our lives because we trustthat God knows our situations, fulfills our needs, and provides for us both physically and spiritually in this world, and in the eternal kingdom.
Remembering who God is is the key to being content with what we have now. After encouraging us to be content with what we have, the author added, let’s read it together,
“God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6)
The desire for more money essentially comes from doubt. When we don’t trust that the Lord will give us everything we need, we start to look for ways to meet our needs on our own. But contentment is a fruit of faith. When we stand on the truth that God will never leave us, but will help us until the end, we will rely on him more and leave everything to him.
Before we wrap up, let’s read some passages related to contentment together.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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. 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. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1Tm 6:6-11)
Let’s read one more passage from 1 Timothy together.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1Tm 6:17-19)
As we live in the world, we’ll never be free from the desire to have and enjoy better things in the world—better cars, houses, and more. But, we should remember those who can’t even get their basic needs met.
We sometimes feel that we don’t have enough when we compare ourselves to those who have more, but the fact that we live in one of the richest countries in the world and have cars to drive, houses to live in, clothes to wear and food to eat shows that we already have enough.
So, rather than complaining about what we don’t have, we should learn to be grateful for what we have and share it with others in need. Rather than putting our hope in wealth, which is uncertain and temporary, we should put our hope in God and the eternal heavenly inheritance he will give us.
It’s natural to want more than what we already have. As a human being, I also want to live in a better house and drive a better car. But I will never trade eternal blessings in God for these worldly things.
Rather than being rich from the world’s point of view but poor spiritually, I will always choose to have less, being thankful for what God has already given me, because I know that will ultimately lead me to spiritual wealth in God.
I hope that all of us know that God will never leave us but will always take care of us as our heavenly Father. He will give us everything we need so that we learn to be content with what we have and put our hope only in God and be satisfied in him.
1) What do you want to have or buy most nowadays? Why?
2) Do you think you are more similar to the church in Laodicea or the church in Smyrna? Why?
3) Are you content with what you have now, or do you desire to have more?
4) What do you think are the benefits of being free from the love of money? Why is it important in our lives of faith?