In this episode, we continue looking at the list in Hebrews Thirteen. The list lays out a few ways in which we can steward the opportunities of life. This list is available for everybody. No one can stop you from being great. It is a choice available to all of us. We will also take a view of contentment, one in which our feeling of gratitude is not connected to our circumstances. The Lord is our helper. Through obedience to God, we can represent the gospel not just with our words, but with the perspective we choose – with our very lives.
Be Content and Live and Honorable Life
Now, let’s look at this “be content with what you have.” It’s interesting the contrast that he has between been covetousness and contentment. He says you want to be content, not covetous. And the way you get there is by saying, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What man can do to me.”
Now what’s the connection between the opinion of people and covetousness? Why does the opinion of people bring covetousness and counting on God to be our helper lead to contentment.
OK, that’s a really good one! So how do we know what a cool thing is?
What everybody else thinks. Exactly.
So why do you need that extra whatever. Because if I have to wear that same dress again when I wore that dress three months ago, and I know everybody is keeping video records of my dress, and they’re going to go home and compare it all and say, “Aha! I knew it!” Yeah, because everybody else is looking, right?
What are people going to say if they look at my job, and it’s not an important job?
We tend to use other people’s opinions as our guide of what’s important.
Let’s look at this passage where this comes from: “The Lord is my helper. What can man do to me?” This comes from Psalms 118. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he’s good! For his mercy endures forever. Let Israel now say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron now say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’ Let those who fear the Lord now say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’ I called on the Lord in distress; The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
What is the answer to that question? What can man do to me? They can kill you.
So what’s the implication here? So you die. So what happens if you die? You’re going to go to the Lord. It’s just not as hard anymore, right? All he can do is kill me. He can hurt you first, right? So, what’s death?
I love this Lord of the Ring stuff. The Aragorn character is someone I keep in mind all the time as who I want to be. And he lives life as “Death? Oh, who cares about death! You just have more honor if you have death.” But doing something dishonorable? Unthinkable! Unthinkable to be dishonorable because I’m a king. I would never be unkingly.
I think that’s kind of what he’s calling us to here. We’re receiving a kingdom. Hebrews 12:28. “—we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken—” We’re invited to grow up to the point where we get to rule in that kingdom. Act your part!
They may kill you, but they can’t defeat you. Live an honorable life.
What else can they do to you? They can insult you. Now, have you ever been insulted? It might even be true! They may insult you, and you actually say, boy that’s really true and I need to change. In which case, it’s a good thing, right?
And it may be untrue. If it’s untrue, then what? It hurts. It stings. You know why it hurts so bad, really? Because we think everybody’s watching us, and they’re thinking about the insult, and they went home and said, ‘Andy got insulted. Boy, I’ve been thinking about Andy all day long every day. And now I know.”
Look, people insult you, it hurts. People aren’t watching you that much, really. They’re thinking mostly about themselves.
What else can they do to you? They can take your stuff. I’ll tell you, I have one thing that somebody could take, and I would cry: my mandolin. I just love my mandolin. It fits me. I don’t know if I could ever get another one that was so good.
But, you know, really, I don’t think I’d be permanently damaged. Pretty much everything’s replaceable.
So, what is there to fear, really? I don’t like to hurt. None of us like to hurt. But if you look at the big picture here and what’s at stake, comparatively speaking, it’s just—nothing we can endure in this life really matters that much. Compared to this amazing opportunity to become great.
Anything in this list so far you’re intimidated by? Oh, I could never do that? Love other people that are fellow believers. Is that too high a hurdle? Share your stuff; share your space. Is that something all of us can do? Remember people that are suffering who are not in your field of vision? Do you have to have a certain spiritual gift for this? Do you have to have a certain intellect for any of this? Do you have to have a certain station in life? Or even a certain age? Marital status?
It’s available for anybody!
The only one in here that you have to have a certain status for is marriage. And, even then, you can avoid the fornication and adultery. You can still lean into this. And you can be content with what you have. Nobody can stop you from being great. Nobody. Because all these things have no barriers; it doesn’t require anyone else’s cooperation. It doesn’t require any specific skill set.
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
A little side line for the ladies: Does anybody recognize this word helper? Have you ever heard this word before in the Bible? Genesis 2.
In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, same word as in this Hebrews verse.
Genesis 2:18. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone—” He needs a marriage bed that’s undefiled. “‘I will make him a helper comparable to him—” Who’s the helper in Genesis 2:18? Eve. Who’s the helper in Hebrews 13? God.
Does God have a high position or a low position? Pretty high. Is woman a high position or a low position? It’s like God. She’s a helper.
This is not gender specific greatness; it’s just greatness.
What does greatness look like?
Let’s go on to Hebrews 13:7. Still on the list of how to be great. What does greatness look like. We’ve spent most of our time on the heart attitude. Now we’re just getting some practical things. What would that look like?
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”
Now, you will get in scripture, sort of a fruit-inspection command only in one circumstance, and that is the circumstance when you’re deciding whether someone’s a false prophet or not. When you’re deciding whether to listen to someone who’s preaching the word or not.
You don’t really get fruit inspection for another person. You get fruit inspection for yourself. If you want to know what fleshly behavior looks like, it looks like this. If you want to know what walking in the spirit looks like, it looks like this. But in terms of “you need to judge another person’s fruit,” what you get is, to decide whether to listen to them and follow them in terms of preaching the word or not.
Well, when you have someone who has the kind of life you want to follow, and you say I want to be like them, and they’re teaching the Word to you, then remember them. Maybe that means pay them. Maybe that means thank them.
We’re going to see in 13:17, we can just put that together here. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
So we’ve got people who are mentoring you, perhaps. Or they’re counseling you. They’re watching out for your souls. Don’t be a pain in the neck to them! If you need their help, ask for help, but don’t go criticizing them unless you’ve got something constructive to say.
There are people in here who know what it’s like to lead. Most everybody in here has children. And your children usually are not thinking about how not to be a pain in the neck to you when they ask for something, right? Well, don’t be like a little kid. Avail yourself of this benefit that they’re offering to you, but don’t make it a lot of trouble for them.
There’s a way to go about this that honors the people watching out for your souls.
Again, you don’t have to have a particular spiritual gift for this. Just don’t be a jerk! We can all do that.
Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.”
Don’t let anyone replace the word of God and the principles of the word of God with some list. This particular list apparently was somebody had particular foods that you’re supposed to eat. And if you eat these foods, then you’re good with God.
And you can go anywhere in the world and go to a church, and they’ll have a list. Paul has a list, and this is it. We tend to make lists that are trivial. I think we make lists that are trivial because it gives us a sense of control because we can always make the list of things that we can do easily, or appear to do easily. And we make that list where we can criticize other people and thereby elevate ourselves.
That’s a silly thing to do because we’re going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and every thought and intent of the heart is going to be laid bare.
Have you given this any thought that your intents are going to be on the Jerry Jones Cowboy’s stadium jumbotron?
An Unexpected List
What would you have expected to be on the list that’s not?
Isn’t that interesting? Lead a lot of people to Christ is not on the list. Why do you think that is? It’s not in our control. Do you know, I went through the epistles looking for commands to share our faith, and do you know how many I found? One. And it’s 1 Peter.
When somebody comes and asks you, “Why are you glad when you’re suffering unjustly, tell them the hope that’s within you.” That’s it.
But there is command after command after command after command to live a godly life. And we’re told if you live a godly life, it shows people who God is. “Glorify the Father.”
That’s what we’re supposed to be doing, and that’s what this list does.
I like what St. Francis said: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
Isn’t that great? I think that’s what this list is telling us to do.
What else would you have expected to be on this list?
Yes! Give money! Make sure you give ten percent! Now, let’s have a little talk about gross or net. What is God’s depreciation schedule? Does God recognize intangible drilling costs? Do you get more credit for giving to a 501c3 authorized organization than just giving money to a friend? Do you get extra credit because it’s accredited by the IRS? Will there be an IRS person at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Or do you get less credit because you get to write it off? Tithing is not even on here.
Now, the principle is though. What’s the principle? Be content with what you have and share your stuff with other people. Cheerfully. It maybe that you’re the most generous, giving guy, and you never give money to a charity. Maybe you raise foster kids, and that’s where your excess money goes. Do you think you’ll be reamed for that?
Quiet times! Where’s quiet times on this list? Make sure you get up at least 5:00 in the morning, central standard time. Have at least an hour—I mean, the principle is here. The principle of focusing on God. Praying for their restoration. The principle is here, but not a formula. If there were a formula, then we could just say that and just be done with it and say, “Now I control you, God. Now you have to bless me because I did my thing. I did my quiet time.”
Being at church whenever the door is open.
Yeah. I heard a fire-and-brimstone sermon about that when I visited a church one time. It was very reminiscent, and it’s not even on here.
In chapter 10, it says, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together as is the habit of some.” In the context of Hebrews here, why would you assemble yourselves? Because we’re all in the same boat together, and we want to win this race, and it’s hard, and we need reminding.
Boy, go listen to some sermons on that verse and watch how they pull it out of context and what they do with it. It ends up way messed around. But that’s not our particular problem. Our particular problem is that we’ve got this pleasure in our heart that tends to get in the way of greatness, and Paul is telling us how to move that out of the way.
What are you surprised is on the list that you wouldn’t have expected to be there?
OK. Entertaining strangers. That’s kind of weird, and it’s the second one. Yeah, and there may be angels. That’s kind of surprising.
Obviously having a great sex life is not something you’d expect to be on here if you grew up in a Baptist church.
We usually don’t think about the prisoner stuff, and part of that is because of where we grew up. We’re just now starting to see the return of religious persecution in our country. But yea, that’s kind of a surprise isn’t it?
Remember the whole point here is to learn to walk by faith, and you can’t please God without faith. And what is faith? It’s believing something you can’t see. And God tells us, hey, this is in your best interest. And it doesn’t feel like it, and it doesn’t look like it; but you have to believe that it is.
God is not concerned about what we’ve done in the past. He paid for all that on the cross. God is concerned about what we do now. God is the God of now.
And what he asks us to do in this book is focus on doing something a particular day. What is it? Today. Today while you hear the voice obey. And that’s the point.