Last week we looked at taking God to work with you, how we can honour Him in our day to day lives. This week I’m going to consider a similar theme of how we can honour Him with the way we handle our finances. The book of Proverbs in the bible has loads of wisdom about money, wealth and giving but the key verses I’m considering today are;
Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
We don’t tend to use the word firstfruits anymore, but it was used a lot in biblical times when they lived in Agrarian societies. Farmers would produce crops and it was the first and best that God asked for. This giving was called a tithe and it was usually about 10% of what was produced although there were lots of different types of giving. There are many mentions of giving and specifically tithing in the Old Testament, but one of the passages which sets out the blessings and cursings of giving or not are set out in the book of Malachi 3:6-12.
Although today, Christ has superseded the Old Testament law, as Christians, many of us tithe and carry on the principle of giving to God. We don’t do it out of necessity but as a gesture of thankfulness and gratitude to a God who generously provides all good things for us to enjoy. In fact now that the law has been superseded we can now go beyond just giving 10% as we recognise the amazing grace and provision that has been poured out upon us.
I think the principle of firstfruits is a very good one. To consider giving to God first before any regular commitments or bills are paid. Some will cover their obligations first and then see what is left to give to God. This is like a tip and is not honouring to Him. No, He deserves the first and best. When we give to Him first, not only is it an expression of gratitude, but also a sign of trust. He has provided for us in the past and He will provide for us into the future.
For the rest of this blog I’m just going to provide my thoughts of this general subject in bullet points. They are in no particular order, just as they enter my head!
- Honouring God means being careful with debt. We should not borrow or owe more than we have the means to give back. If you are in debt, it probably indicates you are living beyond your means. Most churches offer good counselling services to help you get your finances on track.
The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)
Owe no one anything, except to love each other (Romans 13:8)
- God loves generosity. When we are generous we take after Him because He is supremely generous and extravagant and never holds back. There are tons of verses in the bible on this subject. Here are just a few;
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38)
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- Be especially generous to the poor and those who can’t pay you back.
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17)
Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. (Proverbs 21:13)
- Give to your local church first as this is where you receive your principle spiritual nourishment. Consider giving by Gift aid (Available in the UK, not sure about other countries). This is where your giving in the offering is classified as Charitable giving and the chancellor of the exchequer effectively adds to your gift by repaying the tax without any cost to yourself. For example if you give £100 pounds your gift under gift aid is £125!
- Resist the pull of money. It has the power to draw us away from God. Loving money can lead to worry and stop us depending on God. We covered this when we looked at ‘The sermon on the mount’ and specifically Matthew 6:25-35.
- Make a budget. Live within your means. As I said before, give to God first and then make sure your responsibilities and bills are covered.
If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? (Luke 16:11)
- Planning and saving for the future
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-30)
- We need to order our priorities and put God before money.
Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. (Proverbs 15:16)
- Wealth is worthless in the coming day of judgement. We can’t take it with us!
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 11:4)
- Wealth is temporary, transient and fleeting
Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone,
for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:4-5)
How we give reveals an awful lot about how much we trust in God, it demonstrates where we are placing our trust. Money can be used or abused. But with the right kind of heart it can be used to great effect in God’s kingdom and we can really honour Him with how we use it.