Posted February 03, 2014
Honor 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.
Where do we start with these two verses? At initial glance, these verses seem to be a simple formula on how to amass wealth for oneself. If you honor God with your wealth, then your barns will be filled with plenty and vats will be bursting with wine. If you don’t, then your barns won’t be filled and your vats won’t be bursting. Simple, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. First, we do an injustice to the whole of Scripture when we read a part of it in isolation from the whole. This is not the only place God speaks of wealth and we would be remiss to ignore those other places. Second, we do an injustice to the book of Proverbs when we read it like a book of promises instead of principles. While there are some basic principles that work themselves out a certain way, and often God does bless people with financial gain to further His kingdom, often people seek to use these verses to universally “claim” something that was never meant to be claimed. We should never view God as a means to an end (“If I do this for God, he’ll give me what I ultimately want… More money.”). That form of thinking is idolatry (elevating something higher than God)! What would we say to a first century Christian who had lost their possessions and home precisely because of their faith in Christ? Would we tell them that they had not honored the Lord with their wealth? Third, we do an injustice to it when we read this proverb in isolation from other proverbs (including the next two verses that follow it).
So how are we to read this text? First off, we learn that the point of our money is to honor God, or “treat the Lord as weighty”, with it. We can honor many things with our money. More often than not, it’s ourselves we seek to honor with our wealth. Here, the writer of Proverbs teaches us that the best way to use our wealth is for God and for things that glorify Him and not us. Our lives are to be lived in light of a grander scheme. Christians should view and spend money in a different manner than the world! What does your budget say about what you honor the most? The point of money is not us, but God, so honor Him with it. This isn’t to say we can’t spend money on God-glorifying things we love and find pleasure in, but it should put in a bigger context.
One of the main ways to honor God to give Him the firstfruits of all our produce. It does not say “lastfruits” or “leftoverfruits”, but firstfruits. To put God first with what we get is a way to remind ourselves of where the produce and money came from. A Christian’s generosity should stem from two reminders. First, God is Creator and Provider. Second, Jesus become poor that that we might inherit His glorious riches. All our wealth belongs to Him and we should emulate His generosity with all our lives, including our wallets. Ray Ortlund said, “How can wise people be tightfisted? God our Father is sharing his resources with us to expand the family business—the gospel enterprise. He is entrusting into our care his own money, and we are investing his funds for his greater glory in the world today. He has made us his investment brokers… God loves to give even more to his children who understand what money is for and handle it wisely.”
Honor God and His gospel with your money, friends. He is worth it, and life is short.
Song by Ryan Gikas.
Production by Dustin Ragland.
Artwork by Jonathan Lindsey.