Friday, March 9, 2012

Does the Bible Say….? – Part 1

Hebrews 13:5b Hebrews 13:5b be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Yesterday, I tweeted that partial verse.  In relation to the previous post.  But, as I was thinking of it, again, I was reminded that I’ve heard it where only “be content with such things as ye have” was quoted, by those who intentionally or otherwise misunderstand the meaning.  I’ve heard some accuse the Bible of supporting laziness with this phrase.  Others have suggested that it supports keeping those who are not as financially well off “in their place”.  Pardon my incredulity, but if we read the whole Bible and what it says, how can such interpretations even seem to make sense?  There are times when one verse can summarize a Biblical idea, but, as often as not, it’s likely that we need to look at related verses and the full context.  So let’s see where that takes us with this verse.

The full thought, here, is actually two verses long.   “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.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”  That’s Hebrews 13:5-6.  If you think about it, what this passage says is counter to the thinking of most first world cultures.  Which leans toward “have a lot, get more”.  But this passage starts by telling us to not even talk about being covetous.  Exodus 20:17 says not to covet our neighbor’s home or wife.  Paul is stronger in Romans 7:7 and 13:9.  He just says don’t covet.

There’s a principle in all of that.  If we covet, then:
  • we focus on what we covet, instead of God,
  • we lose an appreciation for the things we already have,
  • we try to attain that goal in our own strength.

There’s nothing wrong with being blessed and gaining more blessings.  But, once the blessings become our focal point, we’ve lost our way.  We’re headed toward the blessing instead of toward the Blesser.  So Hebrews tells us to be content.  The very next phrase reminds us that Jesus said He’d never leave us or forsake us.  And the next part of the verse tells us we can say boldly that “The Lord is my helper”.  Bingo, we’ve connected the winning line of boxes.  And how does that play out?

  1. If we focus on God, everything  goes as it should.  If not,….
  2. God never violates our free will and our ability to come to our own conclusions from our own decisions and our own focus.
  3. What we have is given by God and, if that’s all He gives, it’s sufficient.
  4. There’s nothing wrong with aiming toward more blessings that are part of God’s call and plan.
  5. We can be an active participant in the process of our blessing, but we still need to allow God to be the Blesser.
  6. Blessings and the state of being blessed are not the goal.  God is!

What a verse!  It lays out so much, in order, in context.  And there’s more.  You may have noticed we didn’t get to the very last part of the verse.  We will.  And more.  Next time.  Till then, there’s plenty here to chew on.  How do you handle blessings and being blessed?

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