The fear of poverty paints a dreadful scenario of the future. I picture myself being left destitute and unwanted. After this image is replayed often enough in my mind it drives me to take desperate measures to provide the money I need to survive. I might resort to theft, tax evasion, fraud or gambling. I might even marry or live with someone whos not Gods will for me to just to make sure someone will provide for me. Yes, of course, I know its wrong, but under the circumstances I feel I have no choice. Im trapped and have to compromise just to survive. And oddly enough, all this seems to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I try to escape poverty, the poorer I seem to become. But in our lesson today the author of Hebrews shows us how to avoid this trap. It takes him only two verses to make his point. He says the antidote to the fear of poverty is stand in faith on the promises of God. Not begging, not bargaining or taking matters in my own hands, but genuinely expecting God to do what He said He would do. Writing to people who had lost their homes, been divorced or disinherited because of their faith in Jesus Christ, the author tells them they can be absolutely certain that God will care for their needs. By quoting two powerful promises he shows them, and us, how to enter a lifetime of divine provision.
What do these verses say?
Heres my paraphrase which captures the meaning of the words he used:
(v 5) Dont be controlled by the love of money, but be satisfied with things as they are even though persecution may have taken away your property or caused you to be abandoned by your spouse or disinherited from your family. You can be absolutely certain that God will take care of you because He has promised:
By no means will I send you back (like Moses sent Zipporah back to her father, Ex 18:2-6).
By no means will I leave you behind (like Abraham left Hagar in the wilderness, Ge 21)
(v 6) You can say cheerfully with confidence, The Lord will come running to help me when I call so I will not fear what people may do to me.
The point he makes is this: You may have been disinherited or abandoned because of your faith (Heb 10:32-34) but you can be confident that God will never leave you destitute because He has promised that He will never abandon you, but will come running to help when you call. The same promise He made to Israel in Deuteronomy 31:1-6 He makes to you today and Gods power to help you is far greater than mans power to hurt you. The promise of Psalm 118:1-14 is yours as well.
What danger is he addressing?
There are several reasons people pursue money but the one he focuses on here is the primal instinct to survive. If we get desperate enough we will do almost anything. So if our faith in Jesus gets us into serious trouble we find powerful impulses arising to do whatever we have to do to get back to a place of safety. In fear our heart turns to the love of money, we focus on money rather than God. It ceases to be a resource He gives us and becomes the source we look to for help.
Why do people crave money?
1) Fear of poverty: to protect myself from starvation and exposure
2) Love of pleasure: living for today, gorging my appetites
3) Worthlessness: trying to prove my worth as a person
What does God promise?
1) Fear of poverty: Matthew 6:25-34
2) Love of pleasure: 1 Corinthians 15:31, 32
3) Worthlessness: John 17:4
God doesnt promise to make us rich. He promises to provide us all we need to do all Hes asked us to do. And His assignment for each person is different. Listen to how Paul defines Gods provision:
1) 1 Timothy 6:6-10
2) Philippians 4:11-13
In effect, Paul says money itself isnt a problem, its the attitude toward money that can be a problem: is God or money my source?
To whom does He make this promise?
1) Hebrews 13:15 Those who continue to confess Jesus name
2) Matthew 6:33 Those who seek first His kingdom and His righteousness
To those who are truly disciples God promises to provide. He swears He will never divorce or abandon us but will always provide for our needs.
What does it look like when He answers?
Of course, every case is different but lets see how He provided for three single moms:
1) Hagar: Genesis 21:8-21
2) The widow of Zarephath: 1 Kings 17:8-16 (Note: Mk 12:41-44)
3) Mary at the foot of the cross: John 19:25-27
How does this truth change my life?
1) No compromise: I never have to drop my moral standards to survive. God will make a way.
2) No limits: The lack of money will never prevent me from doing Gods will. Where He guides, He provides so I can do anything He asks me to do.
3) No exceptions: God, You said Youd care for me and Youre no liar. Im waiting for You to do all Youve promised.
This isnt presumption. Its the kind of aggressive faith that delights Him.
1) How has following Jesus affected the way you think about money?
2) John Wesleys advice went something like this: Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can. Which of these statements applies most to you today?
3) In what area of your life would you say that you desperately rely on God as your provider? How has He been faithful to you?