“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” — Hebrews 13:5
Acquisitive by Nature
Mankind is generally acquisitive by nature. By this I mean that we desire to own, to have, and to control. Some have thought that this desire can be traced all the way back to the creation of man. God created man to have dominion over His entire creation. In order to exert this dominion, man was equipped with desires, talents, and skills that would aid him in accomplishing the tasks that God had given him.
Under the original creation model, these attributes were helpful. However, when man fell in the garden of Eden, an emphasis on self and sin produced a characteristic of selfishness that turned the positive of an acquisitive nature into the equivalent of a raging disease. Now, man lives to own, to build, and to produce for his own purpose. Much of what is done is accomplished in order to possess the bragging rights of being the biggest, the greatest, the fastest growing, or even the one with the most! Man lives to tell other men what he has, who he is, what he has done, and how much he owns. Instead of being content with the life and the supply that God has granted, most of mankind is dominated by the pride of life and is consumed by the desire to make themselves great.
The story is told of a rich landowner who was once asked the question, “Just how much land do you desire to own?” His reply was, “I only desire the property that lies on any side of any property I now own.”
The Christian and Contentment
The apostle Paul had much to say relative to the subject of being content. In Hebrews 13:5, the Bible states, “Let your conversation be without covetousness.” The term conversation is archaic in its use and literally refers to the lifestyle of an individual. So, the author of Hebrews is simply stating that the Christian lifestyle is to be one that is not dominated by covetousness. When we desire what others have, we are covetous. When we long for the position that another holds, we are covetous.
The key to contentment is also found in our text as the author says, “Be content with such things as ye have.” This means that we are to be satisfied with our lot in life, whatever that turns out to be. Not every Christian is destined for great riches. To teach that every Christian will be rich by simply accepting Christ as their Saviour is a false gospel. It is a gospel that accentuates greed and the very lifestyle spoken against by many of the Bible authors. Paul gave us instructions in I Timothy 6:17 that those “who are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God.”
From this verse it seems very obvious that not every Christian will be extremely wealthy. So, to live your life in pursuit of riches and financial gain is a wrong direction and an ungodly motivation. Let me qualify this by saying that God does bless His people. I believe that He does desire to prosper us, but if financial gain is our chief goal in life, then we may find ourselves with a large bank account but experiencing great leanness in our souls. The Word of God is clear, as it states in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” When we make knowing God our first priority and serving God our lifelong pursuit, then we can expect God to bless us both spiritually and financially.
Being Content With our Role in the Body of Christ
Being content with the role that God has given you in the body of Christ is another great key to experiencing contentment. Far too many churches and ministries have been split, segregated, and destroyed simply because those called to be a part of that ministry or church were not content with the role that God had given. I fear that far too much emphasis is made in the church today on the pulpit ministry. We have allowed our preachers to become the focus and the emphasis of the local church.
The fivefold ministry is designed to train the body of Christ and bring it to maturity. As each member of the body grows in its personal relationship with Christ, they then accomplish the true work of the ministry. Their lives being “seeded” into their particular community impacts the people they see every day. Their lives and words give witness to the power and veracity of the living Christ. The body is, therefore, trained to do “the work of the ministry.” This is plain to see in Ephesians 4:11-12, which states, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
When we believe that the major work of the body of Christ is the training of the body and not the work accomplished by the body once trained, we can quickly become dissatisfied with any role other than being one of the fivefold ministry gifts. Too many Christians sit in pews every Sunday, hear the Word of God, and yet fail to participate in spreading the gospel in their everyday lives.
Also, we encounter the problem of men and women trying to achieve a position that they have never been called upon by the Lord to enter into. So, it’s vital that we find our position in the body of Christ by first knowing how to live for God as a Christian. Once true Christianity is experienced through the means of faith in Christ and Him crucified, the role for each believer designed by God will become evident. Then, day by day, we are to look to the grace of God to equip us with a “spirit of contentment” in all that He has given us, both to do and to enjoy.