In Hebrews 13, the author ends a string of extremely practical commands with this verse: “Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5).
In this verse, he gives us two “whats” and a “why.” The “whats” are commands for believers to follow and the “why” explains why we should obey these commands.
The first “what” teaches us that we, as believers in Jesus, are to keep our lives free from the “love of money.” The love of money was an issue in the early church and it can be for us, as well, today. When we love money, we determine our value by it; we find our satisfaction in it; we find our sense of security in it. And in doing so, we lose our faith in God. God wants our love: he is the one who has determined our value (and it can’t be counted in dollars); he is the one who provides ultimate satisfaction; he is the one we should look to for security. He is worthy of our trust. We should love him instead of money. (See Matthew 6:24).
The second “what” tells us to “be satisfied with what [we] have.” This can be applied to anyone, but let’s consider it in relation to two groups: the poor and the rich.
If a poor Christian, or one suffering from persecution or discrimination, were to read this, he should take the command literally: “be satisfied with what you have.” Most of us have a desire to get out of difficult situations as quickly as possible. If we are struggling financially, we usually want to get just a little bit (or a lot) more so we don’t feel the pressure that comes with looming bills that we can’t afford to pay and pending purchases that we can’t afford to pay for at the moment. Yet, God does not command us to, necessarily, “work harder so we can pay for those things.” He commands us, instead, to “be satisfied with what we have.” (We will see the “why” in a little bit. But, now, let’s consider how the rich are supposed to apply this verse.)
If a rich believer reads this, they should also take the command literally: “be satisfied with what you have.” Those who have wealth tend to want to increase their wealth. This often comes from a desire to “keep up with the Jones’” or to be “responsible” with what God has given them. Unfortunately, both desires have the tendency of revealing an underlying “love of money.” Instead of striving to “store up treasures” (Matthew 6:19), well-off Christians should strive to “be satisfied with what they have” and put their faith in action by using their wealth for the direct benefit of those around them who are in need. (See James 2:14-26, Luke 12:13-21; 18:17-23.)
The “why” explains that we should keep our lives free from the love of money and be satisfied with what we have because, “[The Lord] will never leave or abandon [us].” It’s that simple. God is with us and he wants to be our provider. He has already provided so much for us- our lives, our talents, and our salvation- just to name a few. And he is infinitely capable of meeting our every need. He wants to free us from the love of money so that we can love him. He wants to free us from the anxiety of not having- because he is infinitely wealthy, he is with us, and he will never leave us. He wants to free us from the anxiety that comes with storing up earthly treasures- because he knows what we need and he is able to provide for us as we go. He is omniscient, sovereign, and he will never abandon us.
So, brother or sister, if you see the love of money in your life or you find yourself feeling dissatisfied with what you have, remember that God wants you to be free from these sinful dispositions. He wants you to be satisfied. He knows what you need and has already provided it or he will provide it. He wants you to remember that he will always be with you: he will never leave you or abandon you. Abandon your self-sufficiency, greed, and dissatisfaction and trust him.