Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you…
You perceive at once, perhaps, that this promise has two distinctive peculiarities. In the first place, it is limited as to its aspect; and secondly, it is mixed as to its character. It is limited as to its aspect. Being not addressed to sinners generally as sinners, its sphere must at once be considered circumscribed and sacred. It is a promise, not to the world as such, but to the Church which has been redeemed out of the world. The design, evidently, of this glorious promise is to keep down the fears of believers in passing through this world to everlasting glory. And we see that there are two classes of evils which make them afraid, against which fears there is a provision in this promise. There are things that trouble you — their confusion, their irregularity, their aspects; and then you live amidst intelligent beings, like yourselves imperfect, and not only so but evil, and you fear from them — you fear things, you fear persons. But God has made a merciful provision against both these fears by saying, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
I. The remarks assume somewhat of a secular character in the first part of the subject. In speaking of these "Things," the passage refers to such subjects; therefore it is not improper for me to do so. By "things" I understand things of this life — food, raiment, habitation, health, comfort, all those things which are necessary for our existence, for our convenience, and for our comfort, according to our relative positions in society, and especially to the answering the end of our being, namely, doing good and glorifying God our heavenly Father.
1. Now these things, we say, are necessary for us. And when a thing is absolutely necessary, it is right to think of it. But then there is the danger of magnifying our wants, of supposing that we have wants that we have not, and that ten thousand things are necessary for us which would actually be, if given, injurious to us. But so little do we feel that we are in danger here, that it is only when we do feel it, and at no other time, that we in this respect rejoice in the truth and glory of the promise, "I will never leave thee," etc. And there is another danger to which we are exposed. The very fact that the things of this life have necessity imposed upon them very frequently tends to covetousness. Christian friends, when the world comes over you and consumes your heart and destroys your spirituality, go and weep before the Cross; go and plead this promise again and again in the name of the Saviour, that you may stand, and in the Lord be mighty and strong.
2. I refer to another thing impressed upon the things of this life: there is difficulty; that is to say, the universal law of our natural living in this world is this, "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread." Labour is man's necessity, and man's glory. A man says, "I know that without labour I cannot exist." The tradesman says it, the politician says it, the philosopher above any says it, the Christian ought to say it. He says, "I see that labour is essential to prosperity and elevation and usefulness"; and then he imagines that it is the cause of it, whereas it is only the condition of it — it is only the connection made by God to subsist; for labour itself, which is merely acting upon matter, trying to produce changes, is nothing without God. We repeat it again, man labours in vain, bodily and inwardly, unless God grants a blessing. And God says to the soul humbled and chastened, "I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee."
3. I might refer to the mutability that is impressed upon all these " things," as a frequent occasion of sorrow. The great political changes, the great commercial storms, the great commercial stagnations which very frequently follow; the death of a friend, a brother, a child, a failure, or what is called a common accident, may change the whole history of a man. And then come the trials of the soul, and then it is the heart goes forth to covetousness; it is then that man begins to fear; and it is then too comes, and then too is felt, the preciousness of the promise, "I will never leave thee."
II. Let me just glance, in the second place, at PERSONS. Paul, addressing himself to the Hebrews, .says, quoting David, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Will you not? Man may injure you; some men have injured you, and you are in danger of being injured still more in the dark future. What is your protection?" The Lord is my helper." I should be afraid of man; but He being my succour and my helper I shall not be afraid. Man in very many ways may injure us; taking society as it is constituted, and taking into consideration especially its evils. Man may injure our feelings, which is not a very trifling matter — may injure our reputation, civil, social, sacred — may injure our property — may injure our persons — may do what is still more painful, may injure our souls. The nearer and dearer persons are to us, the greater is the danger of being injured by them. They may injure us by the carelessness or even by the impurity of their conversation, they may injure us by false guiles or by base cruelties, they may injure us by their seductions, they may injure us by their frowns, and by their severities, and by their contempts, and by their persecutions. "But the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear," &c. These then are the external circumstances which render the promise before me peculiarly applicable, "Be content with such things as ye have," for He, "God," hath said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." I was going to say, whence evils spring up, and that is ourselves. Many of our fears rise and terminate in our own beings. Evil thoughts, evil imaginations, evil affections, malice, pride, unkindness, indifference to the misery of others, and a variety of other things; these in frightful numbers and in horrid forms present themselves to the conscience, and then the soul is afraid. He thinks of sins in life and sins in language, sins of the soul and sins of the senses, sins against God as a personality, against God as a governor; and, as the scene blackens before his eyes, he says within himself, "I could have trusted that that cloud would have passed away; but I am an offender against my God, I feel that I have increased His displeasure, therefore what shall I do?" Now again comes the promise; yes, and we need not hesitate, we need not tremble to go to God and say, "It is mine, it is mine." He has said, "I will never leave thee," etc. Now, I said that the evils were of two kinds — external, arising from circumstances, and personal, springing up from ourselves. Now God meets these two evils, the first by His Providence, and the second by His influences and His Spirit. First, God says, "I will take care of the things"; and secondly, He says, "I will take care of you."
Parallel VersesKJV: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.