The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 30:7-14 Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. Do not slander a slave to his master, Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty. There is a kind of man who curses his father And does not bless his mother. There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness. There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance. There is a kind of man whose teeth are like swords And his jaw teeth like knives, To devour the afflicted from the earth And the needy from among men.
The Apostle Paul writing to Timothy says:
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.”
Why do we always believe that we are the exception to the rule when it comes to the bible’s teachings on the accumulation of resources, goods, and wealth? Why do we believe that Jesus’ warnings about storing up treasures here on earth, rather than those in heaven, always apply to the Bill Gates or the Elon Musks of the world, you know, those really super rich guys?
Why is it, in times of want, we lose heart, believing that God has forsaken us?
“Scripture’s warnings against the love of money and camels squeezing through the eyes of needles pertains to those rich people, not me”, you may think, as you dwell in your spacious, well furnished, temperature controlled home. Families in America with 1.7 kids, have two and three cars sitting in the driveway. Americans have access to untold amounts of mindless entertainment, information, literature, and other resources which mere decades ago were considered luxury, yet now are considered basic necessities which everyone takes for granted. Yet, all the luxury in the world cannot satisfy our appetites.
We want more and more. At the end of it all, after all the pursuing, all the accumulating, all the hoarding, we say “Look how resourceful I was. Look what I built. Look how great I am. Look how blessed I am, God gave me all this stuff”.
The poor man in the hills of Appalachia has an equally damning problem: in his poverty, he covets, because the poor, in their poverty, are not content either. Living lives void of the complexities associated with “modern”, “upscale”, “metropolitan” living, they observe the so-called rich trapped in their rat race pursuing after the world's goods and foolishly declare “I want that too”. Wealth, and the accumulation of it is seen as the messiah for myriads of people. “If I can just make this amount, everything will be alright”. “If I only had___________, it would make my life so much better”. “Winning the lottery is my one chance to be somebody”.
The Proverb this Lord’s Day encourages us to live lives of moderation and contentment:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion”.
Why? Why does scripture warn us to be wary of the extremes?
Verse nine gives us the answer: “That I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God”
Sin. In both great wealth and abject poverty, sin is crouching at the door. During times of plenty, which even the lowliest among us have enjoyed as Americans for at least my entire lifetime, or periods of great loss and want, there are temptations for us to sin.
Pride: I built that.
Covetousness: I want yours.
Murder: I will take what he has by force.
Greed: Give me more, I deserve it.
Paul writing of contentment once again says this in Philippians:
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
Can we say this? Do we really believe that the “Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, that regardless of our season of life, the “Cup runneth over”? Brothers and sisters, let us repent of our lack of contentment, repent of our pursuit of wealth, repent of our covetousness and greed, and instead remember that Christ is our portion forever. Let us remember that we have a Savior named Jesus, that an imperishable crown awaits, and through Christ and His blood bought victory, we inherit all things.
If you are able at this time, please join me in kneeling as we confess our sins to God Almighty.
If I should suffer need, and go unclothed,
and be in poverty,
make my heart prize thy love,
know it, be constrained by it,
though I be denied all blessings.
It is thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants,
for by these trials I see my sins,
and desire severance from them.
Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows,
if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil,
and be delivered from it with gratitude to thee,
acknowledging this as the highest testimony
of thy love.
When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul
instead of sin, he became more dear to me
than sin had formerly been;
his kindly rule replaced sin’s tyranny.
Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin
I must not only labour to overcome it,
but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it,
and he must become to me more than
vile lust had been;
that his sweetness, power, life may be there.
Thus I must seek a grace from him contrary to sin,
but must not claim it apart from himself.
When I am afraid of evils to come,
comfort me by showing me
that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch,
but in Christ I am reconciled and live;
that in my self I find insufficiency and no rest,
but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace;
that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good,
but in Christ I have ability to do all things.
Though now I have his graces in part,
I shall shortly have them perfectly
in that state where thou wilt show thyself
and alone sufficient, efficient,
loving me completely,
with sin abolished.
O Lord, hasten that day.
Prayer from The Valley of Vision titled "Contentment".
Please join me in standing, and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:
Romans 8:37-39 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
From the 03/14/2021 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie)