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Contentment Sees Through the Shiny Wrappers

And so Satan dangles the lure before our eyes. And, like Gollum in the dingy cave in the midst of the Misty Mountain, our heart cries out for her precious. The flesh lusts for self. The eyes thirst with drunken insatiability. And the heart boasts in itself.

But John says, “Beloved, you need to see through the shiny wrappers. There is a stinger in the tail.”

Look at 1 John 2 again:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

These lures, these promises, these shiny wrappers, cannot deliver. Sin makes grand promises but never delivers. The hissing promises of the serpent always appeal to the flesh but can never satisfy the heart.

Get Out the Glory Scale

You see how the Christian combats this don’t you? The love of the world (as verse 16 makes clear what that is) is swallowed up by a love for God. Listen, we who are Christians have tasted and have seen that the Lord is good. We know. We have appraised things. We have set up the scales of our minds and hearts and put the desires of the flesh on one end and the glory of God on the other and have seen the weightiness of God come crashing down in a rush! The infinite weight, value, beauty and glory of God is far surpassing anything this world or its fork-tongued promoter has to offer! We see past the shiny wrappers and see what is lacking.

The example given in Hebrews 13 is the love of money. We know that money itself is neutral. It is useful as a servant but oppressive and merciless as a master.

What do you suppose was the temptation to love money in this context? When we consider the context of the book as a whole, we remember that this was not a peaceful time in this church community. People were suffering at the hands of those who opposed Christianity.

Look with me back at chapter 10:

“But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” (Hebrews 10:32-34)

You can imagine the pressures upon them here. They would have economic pressures, they were losing their homes and property. They would have had social pressures, they were being tossed in jail or publicly mocked.

What is the temptation then? If I suffer for being a Christian then I may lose money, status or even my life. If their contentment is in any of these things—honor, comfort, control or acceptance—then they are done. They have a price. They can be bought.

The writer of Hebrews is saying, “No!” Keep yourself from the love of money!

We see a similar idea in 1 Timothy 6.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6.6-10″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>1 Timothy 6:6-10, ESV)

The implications for us are obvious:

  1. Do you see the lures in the water? Are you aware of the current?
  2. Do you have a price?
  3. Do you love money?
  4. Do you love the Father?

In order to be content we must assess temptations and see their inability to deliver while also seeing the sufficiency of God and resting in his promises to truly deliver.  

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erikraymond@churchleaders.com'
Erik is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (EmmausBibleChurch.org), a church plant south of Omaha. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond.