Over the centuries, Christian theologians have recognized that although the Law is laid out in great detail throughout the Pentateuch, we actually find a summary of it in the Ten Commandments. These ten laws offer some practical ways in which we can concretely express the gratitude we have for our salvation.
When we look at these commandments we might be tempted to think that they are all radically different from each other. However, this is not the case. Many theologians have noted that one of these forbidden sins is actually the root of many evils. This forbidden sin is covetousness (Ex. 20:17).
John Owen has said that “covetousness is an inordinate desire to enjoy more money than we have, or than God is pleased to give us.” This comment was made in response to today’s passage from the book of Hebrews and is absolutely true. Before we address Hebrews 13:5–6, we will note that covetousness does have a broader application in that it includes inordinate desires for anything that we do not have (Ex. 20:17).
It is easy to see how this sin leads to all others. Ungodly desires for people other than one’s own spouse lead to adultery. Coveting another’s wealth leads to theft. Inordinately desiring power and prestige can lead to lies, murder, idolatry, and other forms of sin.
A warning against covetousness is one of the points that we should understand from today’s passage. We are told to be content with what we have and to be free from the love of money. Money itself is not bad; rather, the inordinate desire to have more than God has given us is what leads us into all kinds of wickedness (see 1 Tim. 6:10).
If we are not careful, covetousness can become one of those things that causes us to stumble and to be disqualified from the race of faith. However, God in his mercy has given us this warning to cultivate the perseverance of the saints. The solution is, as the rest of the passage says, to be content with what we have. For the great salvation that has been granted to us is the only thing that we will ever need. Moreover, we are also reminded that God will never leave us, and thus we should not fear since the Lord is our helper. As John Calvin said, “As long as we have such a helper there is no cause to fear.”
Are you content with what you have? Or is there something that is not yours that you covet? In prayer, ask the Lord to reveal those things that you covet. Take some steps to avoid this sin — such as finding accountability, avoiding certain tempting situations, and giving up those things that you have acquired by way of coveting.