Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
Two further exhortations are made here regarding living rightly in the midst of persecution and suffering. The Christian must depart from sexual immorality and greed. Instead, he should pursue holiness and contentment. Marriage was instituted by God (Genesis 2:18, 24; Matthew 19:6) and should be recognised as an honourable estate. This is shown by both husband and wife remaining faithful to each other, as they promised when they got married. Others should also recognise this lifelong relationship and not do anything that may wreck it. The ″marriage bed″ must be ″kept pure″ (Hebrews 13:4). This means sexual relationship within a marriage is not dirty or sinful (unlike some wrong teaching that considered it sinful; see 1 Timothy 4:3), and it is kept pure by keeping out adultery and all kinds of sexual immorality (Hebrews 13:4). God will judge those guilty of sexual misbehaviour as it is against God's purposes. The existence of Christian marriages in a world that operates on sexual permissiveness faces increasing challenges. This requires Christians to take their marriage seriously. Churches must also take responsibility to exhort, teach, and support marriages and families.
Greed is another major problem in our materialistic world. The world has become one big shopping centre and entertainment complex. To enjoy the things of the world, one becomes greedy for money, which is used to purchase goods and experiences. But greed is considered in Scripture as idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5) because it is tantamount to the worship of money rather than God (Matthew 6:24). Paul warns how greed leads men to pursue ″many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction″ (1 Timothy 6:9). Indeed, ″the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil″ (v. 10) and the antidote for it is ″godliness with contentment″ (v. 6). Dangerous greed can be seen in so many places today-in shopping centres, stock markets, casinos, and glittering streets of sinful consumption.
Contentment that keeps a man godly comes from knowledge of Scripture and commitment to its truth. Here two passages are quoted: Deuteronomy 31:6 and Psalm 118:6-7, both assuring us of God's enabling presence that knows our needs and provides for them. Trusting in God for His provision is a mark of faithful discipleship that refuses to be enticed by the seductive temptations of the sinful world, but lives steadily with godliness and contentment.
Reflect on the two promises in Hebrews 13:5-6. How would they help the believer to remain godly and contented?
What does this passage say about how you are living? What does it say about your thoughts, imagination, words, habits, desires, relationships, and choices? Is there anything that needs your thoughtful and prayerful action?