The love of money is more than dangerous — it’s spiritual suicide.
The consistent warning of Scripture is that the people of God better watch their backs when it comes to the allure of financial gain (Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:10). Earning a stout salary can be a good thing, but what we do with those earnings is all important — and the writer to the Hebrews can help us.
In a list of practical exhortations, he writes,
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
This is a simple verse, but the line of argument is astounding. Notice the first two lines. The commands parallel one another:
keep your life free from the love of money and
be content with what you have.
Contentment and Freedom
The commands look like different angles on the same posture. We are exhorted to free ourselves from the love of money (and its siren call to acquire more), and then, in the same spirit, we’re exhorted to be content with what we currently have.
This latter command (“be content”) functions as a sort of development from the former. In order to really keep ourselves free from the love of money, we have to sincerely believe that what we already have is enough. There’s food on the table and clothes on our back. We’re going to be all right (1 Timothy 6:8). If we lack contentment — if we are always thinking about what we want next — then our orientation on money creeps along from value to veneration. Money becomes our ticket to more. It becomes our gateway to that thing that will give us what we think we’re missing, which means it becomes a hero. And anytime we attribute savior-like qualities to something, however subtle it might be, our affections are sure to follow. If we keep dreaming about what we don’t have, we’ll soon be doing an adulterous rendezvous with the revenue.
The most vehement traction against this slippery slope is too simply be okay with what you have. The writer to the Hebrews says to be content. We’re good. We’ll be okay. We can pause our panting for more. And then he tells us why.
He Is There
Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have, for [God] has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The command for us to be free and content is grounded in God’s promise to always be there. The quotation here is taken from Joshua 1:5, but now carries an amplified meaning after the ascension of Jesus. In the Commission to his disciples, Jesus says clearly, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And as he told us about the Holy Spirit, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16).
We have the Trinitarian surety that wherever we are, God is there. Whatever circumstance, whether we have abundance or want (Philippians 4:11–12), God is there and he’s not leaving us.
This might seem like a strange influence on our financial situation, but it’s really not. The presence of God, as with so many other things, drastically alters our perspective on money and stuff. We don’t love money, and we are content with what we have, because we have God.
We don’t love money, and we are content with what we have, because we have God.
We can always say, no matter the state of our earthly assets, that “we have a better possession and an abiding one” (Hebrews 10:34). God is our portion (Psalm 73:26). He is a feast for our souls (Psalm 63:5).
“I will never leave you nor forsake you,” he says.
Our treasure — the most desirable Being in the universe — is irreversibly committed to keeping us close forever. So yeah, money is just money, and what we already have is plenty.