Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:5-6, 8)
It is so easy to confuse law and gospel when talking about being content.
It is so easy to think ‘just be content in Christ’ is the gospel. As if ‘be content in Christ’ is easy. That’s how we tend to think —“hey Jesus is enough, His grace is sufficient…be content in God alone…Be content with Christ…because you have everything you need in Christ.”
I can think of a time not long ago when I assumed that because I had regular prayer time, I didn’t watch secular TV or listen to secular music, I read my bible daily, etc. I really thought I was keeping this and I absolutely hated people I thought weren’t content with Jesus alone.
On more than one occasion, I had fights with my wife about financial stuff because, in my mind, the issue was about our family needing to learn to be content with what God has given us.
When you really consider this passage, this is an impossible demand that God puts on us. We are to be content with such things as we have because He will never leave or forsake us because we have Jesus. And well, Jesus is better than things, isn’t He? Yes, He is…sometimes.
What comes to mind when I read this is the people in the wilderness. God was never enough for them, and they complained and murmured all the time.
Where we get the gospel-centred lens on this though is verse 8 — “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever…”
Jesus is faithful – just like the cloud and the fire that followed them in the desert. They were shadows and pictures of the faithfulness of Christ who is committed to us, faithful to us even though we’re not actually content in him. Even after justification. Even when he’s literally given us everything we need for life and godliness. There’s not one thing we lack today, and we’re still not content — none of us are. He’s the same even though we’re fickle, even though we’re flaky.
Why can he be committed to us? Because he was the better Israel. He was the perfect people of God who lived in the wilderness of this world perfectly content in God for us.