Let your conversation be without covetousness . . . Heb 13: 5
Does Joshua 1: 5, Deuteronomy 31: 5, 6 and Psalm 118: 6 have something to do with covetousness and contentment? Obviously no, it does not. Or rather, not so obviously, yes, it does?
This evening, I learned that the verses from Deutoronomy 31 and Joshua 1 contains repeated calls to God's people, and to Joshua himself, not to fear as they prepare to enter a hostile land, but instead to be strong and of good courage, because the LORD himself had promised to be with them and that "he will not fail thee nor forsake thee".
Many years later, the Psalmist in Psalm 118 appears to reaffirm this promise by saying
The LORD is on my side: I will not fear: what can man do unto me? v6
Quite surprisingly, this call and its underlying promise is used as a basis for teaching Christians in the New Testament to be contented and to avoid covetousness in life! The connection is not very obvious, is it?
Now, it takes great courage, and great faith in God's providence, to live such Christian lives, especially in today's uncertain world of financial turmoils. Particularly, when we see people around us spending most of their lives amassing wealth to secure their future. Where shall we find such courage? Who will assure us of a secure future, if we are to take the brave step to reject covetous behaviour, and instead to be contented with whatever little we have?
The answer lies in these three scripture passages - that God will never leave us nor forsake us. And God is calling us to be brave, and not to fear. It is on this ancient promise of God's presence and this call to courage that the apostle based his injunction to Christians to be free from covetous conduct, but instead, to be content with "such things as we have".
Thus it is clear that the apostle who wrote Hebrews saw that the same promise of God in the OT still applies to Christians in the NT. The promise by God to be on Joshua's side. The call to Israel not to fear, but to be of good courage. This same call still holds true for us today.
Christians, the point in Hebrews 13: 5 is this - that our God has promised never to abandon nor forsake us. As such we shall trust God and be confident enough to conduct ourselves with contentment and without greed throughout our earthly lives. We shall not be anxious about people around us who may appear to gain more than we do. We shall not fear the future.
At last, it is obvious.