If you were with us in church last Sunday, you may remember that after our worship services Pastor Free mentioned it was Pastor Casmer’s birthday, so we again hope Pastor Casmer had a happy birthday on October 10. Do you know there was another special birthday this past week on October 14 – a 95th birthday – the 95th birthday of the one much of the world knows as Winnie the Pooh. Now, if you have read any Winnie the Pooh books or if you have watched any Winnie the Pooh movies or cartoons, you know he has friends like Christopher Robin and Tigger and Piglet and Eeyore, and you also know that he often entertains his friends with simple sayings that are often very profound and sometimes even teach lessons for life. I was looking at some of those Winnie the Pooh sayings recently, and I happened to see one that I thought could help us think about the main point of our Lesson from Hebrews 13 today. In talking to one of his friends, Winnie said, “If you live to be a hundred, I hope I live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” That’s pretty cool: “I hope I live to be a hundred minus one day.” Much more importantly in our Lesson, of course, our Lord says in verse 5: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” That’s really cool. There will never be a time when we will live without God. In other words, Not Even Minus One Day. Let’s see how that thought of “Not Even Minus One Day” allows us to be content in every situation of life we find ourselves – and how that thought lets us show our contentment in some very important areas of life that these words from the Bible are talking about today.
The reason I am saying that I pray these words help us be content is because right before our Lord gave the assurance that he would never leave us for even one day, he told us at the beginning of verse 5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, because God Has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Literally, those words say, “Be content with the way things are – be content with where things are at – be content with whatever situation you are in at the present moment.” The reason we can be satisfied and content with everything we have and everything that is going on at the present moment is because there will never be a moment when God won’t be with us.
And that is what we have to think about for at least a moment, because you and I know very well that there is not a moment of any day that God should be with us, because every moment of every day we fall short of what God expects of us. And he’s going to show that to us in three specific areas of Christian life that we are going to mention in just a moment. But as we hear these words which on the one hand condemn us, please also remember that for the sake of Jesus we are not condemned forever, because Jesus allowed himself to be left and forsaken by his heavenly Father when he went to the cross to take on himself the forsakenness that you and I would otherwise have experienced forever in punishment after we die. But because of what God the Son did, God the Father is content with us – perfectly content with us – marvelously, miraculously content with us. And that is what allows us to be content and satisfied with whatever our wonderful God sees fit to let us have or enjoy — or to not have or suffer — at whatever moment of life we may be in right now. There is “not even minus one day” that we have to worry about God not being with us, whether this week – or for our eternity in heaven, whenever that may begin.
So, these words then let us think about how to express our contentment and gratitude in three specific areas of life: how we treat people; how we treat the sexual relationship; and how we treat money. I hope these next brief thoughts will help you reflect on that for a bit in your life.
How we treat people is what the Lord is talking about in the first three verses, where he tells us to keep loving as brothers, to not forget to entertain strangers (that means people we don’t know yet), and to think about those who are imprisoned or suffering as if we were right there suffering with them – feeling their pain, as if it was our own pain. The Letter to the Hebrews was being written to Hebrew or Jewish Christians who had recently come to faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah and who were being tempted to go back to where they were before and were facing persecution about it. There was a lot of stress and angst and fear and worry and confusion – and, as a result, it could be very easy to think only of one’s self and one’s own problems and not put yourself into the place of other people who might also be worrying or be suffering. It really wasn’t too different from any time in history, even today, when we obviously have a lot of stress and angst and fear and worry and confusion all around us. Every moment of Christian life is a good moment to ask God to help me be kind and hospitable – as one simple example, to the many new people who are becoming part of our congregation and school – and in our neighborhoods, as well – and also a good time to put myself into the place of others who are confused or sick or worried, as we seek to encourage and comfort them that there is never a day their Lord won’t be with them, rather than speaking to them or thinking about them in a way that doesn’t show how much we appreciate that the Lord is always with us. In other words, just be a nice person.
How we treat the sexual relationship is what the Lord is talking about in verse 4, when he talks about marriage itself and the “marriage bed” – the sexual relationship in general – as something he wants us as his people to honor and to keep pure, with his added reminder that the Lord will judge those who have no regard for sexual purity and the proper use of the gift of sex and marriage. Here, too, we pray that the Lord will help us, whether we are single — or single and hoping to be married someday — or married — or once married — or widowed – that the Lord will help all of us both beware of – and feel sorry for – so many in our world who are confused by — or not content with — their very gender, or who show no respect for the definition of marriage between a man and a woman or the commitment of marriage until death parts or the sanctity of the sexual relationship with the person to whom one is married and no one else, not to mention the constant bombardment of sexual messages which seek to invade our minds and our words in what sometimes seems to be every moment of every day. Every moment of every single day of Christian life, then, is another moment to thank God for the physical and emotional and spiritual blessings he has provided through the wonderful gift of marriage and the sexual relationship and the family, something we pray continues to be the case more and more among us, as well.
And how we treat money is what the Lord talks about in verse 5, as I briefly mentioned before. Notice once again, as we often remind ourselves, that the Lord here says that we have to keep our lives free from the love of money and things. Money and earthly possessions are also wonderful blessings from a wonderful God, but the amount of our money and possessions – whether a lot or a little — does not determine how wonderful God is nor how much God loves us. Since, as he says here in verse 5 that he will never leave us or forsake us, we can truly be content with everything he has seen fit to give us, especially because he has seen fit in his love to give us the greatest Treasure – his only Son our Lord, who in his love has forgiven all our sins in thoughts, words and actions that we have committed against other people or in regard to his gift of sex and marriage or in regard to money. So great is his mercy, and so great is his love, and so great are the opportunities he gives us to enjoy each other, to feel each other’s pain, and to work together to let more people know they have a God who promises to never forsake them either, no matter what.
Winnie the Pooh said he hoped to live minus one day than his friend so he would never be without him. God assures us that with him it’s Not Even Minus One Day. I pray that everything that promise means from God’s Word gives you total contentment in your Savior Jesus — and the total desire to live for your Savior Jesus in every way you can every day God gives you. Amen.