A cursory glance through the early part of Hebrews chapter 13 reveals several instructional verses more of the random nature than of a pattern of a message. As though the author had gone to great lengths to make a handful of complex points in all the previous chapters, and now, breaking from the mental tilling, is tossing a few grains fo seed in at random barren patches of dirt he sees, hoping to address the barren spots.
The are, nonetheless, all most profound and inspired words. Verse five has always stuck deep in my heart - as no doubt it also has many, many saints throughout the centuries since it was first read.
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."
It is tempting when reading this passage - as often we do - to pull only part of it out on its own, as though the latter part of the verse is the REAL meaning of the passage, and the former piece just a supporting point.
To do so, however, is a mistake.
What we are looking at really is an instruction with a supporting proof. Although we are often inclined to see it incorrectly as a prescription and consequent result.
Here's what I mean: we are so often tempted to read instructions as are contained in the first statement of this verse as though they are a prescription for a result. We think God is telling us, "If you do __________, you will get ________." And so this is how we read and interpret Scripture all the time. It's even how we understand and filter life.
Trouble is it's NOT necessarily the truth. Most of the time God is actually saying something more like, "This is how I am, and this is what I've done. So here is what your response ought to be like..."
Do you get the critical difference there?
One perspective puts the onus on ourselves to create our own destiny by our behavior - or by our ability to follow a prescription effectively. The other perspective puts the onus on God - on His true and unchanging nature - to be the cause and ourselves merely the affected party who is responding to God's character or work. The former really just results in our glory, and the latter results in God's glory.
So then, back to the passage...
What the Holy Spirit is quite clearly communicating to us through the writer of Hebrews is that "God is enough for us." That's why and how we can "let our conduct be without covetousness," and be "content with such things as we have." Because God Himself is enough for me, and he has promised that He will be with me always.
In fact, a supporting passage from the Gospels is found in the Great Commission at the end of Matthew:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen
So Scripture confirms Scripture that God is with us at al times. In fact didn't David speak of this same thing in the Psalms when he said, "Where can I go from your Spirit?" And if He Himself is sufficient for us in all things and in all ways - which TRULY HE IS j- then we can heed the exhortation of Hebrews to be "content with such things as we have" by allowing God to fill every want in our hearts.
All of these truths here not withstanding, let me emphasize one other aspect to this point...
As always it does, Scripture is speaking to our inner being here - our Spirit - to impart an eternal truth about where we should derive our hearts satisfaction. When we 'covet' something, it is an issue of the heart, though often we try to justify it with 'external need.'
So God is not saying we cannot want what we actually need, nor is He denying our real and tangible needs exist. Rather He is exposing the inner places of our soul where sin hides and offering us a lasting resolution - Himself.
Consider one further passage of Scripture, John 4:13-14
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”