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See how Scripture is arguing about HOW and WHY we can live in the freedom of contentment!
WHY can we say THREE audacious truths?
Bold-humility comes because of a higher Love that will NEVER forsake His own.
What three things can we say? Verse 6 says three audacious statements a believer can say: 1. The Covenant-Keeping God is my helper. Let that sink in: the Creator is not an angry taskmaster for believers but a helper. He is a comforter. He guides us. 2. I do not need to live in fear. Fear is debilitating, and the broken world gives us many reasons to fear: fear death of my kids, fear loss of life or job or deep relationships, etc. 3. Men can do nothing material to me. The implied answer here is man can do nothing to me. Would our lives look differently if we really believed these three things? Scripture argues, YES.
TWO REASONS: There is logic, and these three sayings are not just mantras. Do we see reasons WHY we can say these three amazing truths? The “So” in verse 6 points to two reasons in verse 5. Because two things are true, we can confidently say the Lord is my helper, I will not fear, and what can man do to me – nothing.
Reason 1: Because God made an audacious promise, and its still true. God has promised his own that he would not change his mind and leave them or tell them, “I don’t know you anymore. I’ve had it with you.” That is amazing really.
But WHEN did God make this promise? He spoke it to Joshua who took over leadership of Israel right after Moses. In Joshua chapter one we hear these words uttered by God himself to Joshua: I won’t leave you. It was just “before little Israel went up to take the whole land of Canaan by force. A nation of nomads was about to invade a land filled with enemies bigger and stronger than themselves. Not one army, but many (Joshua 3:10) — and not our turf, but theirs. Israel’s only confidence was that God had told them to go.”(1)
God is a Covenant-Keeping God. He said this promise to Joshua, because he had already entered into covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob well before this. God fulfills his promises.
The writer of Hebrews quotes this Old Testament passage and says that this promise is still valid for the people of God today in covenant with him. That is good news! He uses this promise as the ground by which something else it true.
Reason 2: Because you can live in strong contentment. The result of God saying he will never leave me is that I can live free from the bondage in which loving money and greed traps me. Greed and lust for more leaves us in a prison of discontentment.
There is a confidence before God that makes confidence in money look silly. Often there is a certain confidence that having money can bring people. This type of confidence can come with bondage to needing money in a way that says “I am a good person, because I provide extra money to my family, kids, and others.”
But consider “what man can do to me” and my money? Your life can be radically altered by men, or in one economic downturn, or one epidemic.
If that happens, now what do I do for confidence? This verse is talking about a confidence in God being for you, that no economic reversal can touch. Money and all that it promise to provide can leave me in shattered confidence, but God who is a better and a lasting Treasure will NOT leave me.
The call to contentment is not JUST BE content or try harder or give up material goods. The key to real contentment is knowing the better Treasure I have will never forsake me or leave me.
Implied Reason 3: Christ was foresaken, so I never will be. But WHY am I guaranteed never to be forsaken? On the cross Jesus prayed, “My God, my God, why have you FORESAKEN me?” Answer: God DID foresake Jesus so my guilty verdict would be paid, SO THAT God will never forsake me. If he did forsake me now, that would be double-jeopardy – being tried for my sin when Christ already has been found guilty for it.
Conclusion: the logic is put in one flow. The writer of Hebrews is offering us something so stable that money can’t buy it or the lack of money can’t alter it: the contentment that results from bold-humility in our friendship with the Creator God who promises never to leave his own.
We could summarize the logical flow of these two verses then like this: Because God will not leave me (because he forsook Christ), because I am thus free from greed / able to thrive in true contentment, I CAN confidently say, God is for me, fear has no more claims over me, and man can’t touch me.
John Piper puts it this way, “if we have the joyful, rock-solid confidence that the Lord of the universe, the Savior of our souls, will never leave us and will always be our helper, then the result will be profound contentment without the love of money or the desire to get rich or keep more than we should.” (2)
This bold-humility seems like an oxymoron, but it is not. It is the posture these verses say we can have: it’s humility because God made this promise to me, someone broken who could not keep a promise like this if he tried; it’s bold because I get to be free from fear and greed while I live in deep contentment.
So, I can write our tithe check in joy not with angst that our future security is up to me. God will be with me tomorrow. We can “leave the corners of our fields for gleaning” by tipping well, sometimes even over 50%, because we have more than we need – I have a God who is FOR me, and that is enough. I can employ his money as the good tool that it is for doing good. I do not need to be striving for the next dollar to someday have enough to BE somebody. Contentment believes I have something today that can’t be taken away by man: God is my helper. He won’t leave me. What can man do to me?
Endnotes: Based on the Arcing Study by William Bryan and Eric Blick at Bode Lofts in Chattanooga, TN, October 2020; (1) Marshall Segal, “Be Content with What You Have,” accessed 10/16/20 desiringgod.org; (2) John Piper message: “Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday and Today and Forever” Dec 26, 1999, desiringgod.org accessed 10/16/20; (3) Look at the Book, “God Will Never Leave You”, desiringgod.org accessed 10/16/20