Hebrews – Chapter Thirteen X

by Ed Urzi

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5).

“Covetousness” is a word that encompasses a wide variety of inappropriate desires. Covetousness is closely associated with the word “greed” and conveys an intense desire to possess someone or something that belongs to someone else. It may also contain an element of exploitation (see 2 Peter 2:1-3).

A person who is driven by a covetous desire to accumulate wealth and possessions is usually motivated to make inappropriate choices that are consistent with that goal. This is why Hebrews 13:5 cautions us to guard against this attitude. This admonition is closely aligned with the Tenth Commandment, and as we’re reminded in the New Testament book of Ephesians, “For this you know, that no… covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5).

Jesus also provided us with some specific warnings regarding covetousness. Those warnings address the misguided philosophies that often motivate our desire to accumulate wealth and/or possessions:

“…’Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses'” (Luke 12:15).

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:33-34 NIV).

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13 NIV).

Finally, one commentator offers some practical counsel in this area…

“Christians are not to be covetous. They are not to be greedy. They are not to be anxious (double-minded) worrying over food, clothing and shelter (Matt. 6:25-34). They are to remember they brought nothing into the world neither can they carry anything out and so be content with food and clothing (I Tim. 6:6-10).

They are not to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but to do good, be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous (I Tim. 6:17-18). Christians are to provide necessities for their own families (I Tim. 5:8). The Lord expects Christians to maintain their personal lives financially and materially in such sufficiency as permits them to minister to Christ’s kingdom and the needy to the best of their capabilities (I1 Cor. 9: 8-1 3).”(1)

(1) Paul T. Butler. The Bible Study Textbook Series, Studies In Second Corinthians (College Press) [p. 285] Copyright ® 1988 College Press Publishing Company https://archive.org/stream/BibleStudyTextbookSeriesSecondCorinthians/132Corinthians-Butler_djvu.txt