In the third book of Proverbs, King Solomon writes about the Lord’s economy. He tells us how God wants us to remember Him and the needy as we prepare to spend our funds, considering how we are to share it with Him as we begin to use it.
9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10 NKJV
Most of us do not have barns filled with plenty, or even bank accounts in the same condition, so this promise really gets our attention. What exactly does it mean?
God is asking us is to remember Him and His people whenever He has blessed us with money. This means that when we get funds from any source, be it a paycheck from our work or an unexpected monetary gift, we are to remember Him and those He is watching over. We are partners in His many ministries.
We work hard for our money. A job is never easy and requires great effort, sweat and sacrifice on our part. We mentally and physically tire from our labor and suffer through any number of hardships and trials along the way. We may feel that we are entitled to keep every penny for ourselves, as we have other people that also depend upon it.
But the Lord wants us to remember Him even when it hurts. He has allowed us to get the job and grants us the favor, energy and inspiration to successfully get through it, despite its many challenges. To share our precious and thin paycheck with Him requires faith on our part, a faith in action, which is what He appreciates the most.
As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land after being freed from slavery in Egypt and wandering in the desert for forty years, God told them they would live off the existing crops of the land for two years. By the third year, they would be growing their own crops and greatly expanding the size of their herds, reaping a great bounty of blessing. This also came with an instruction:
12 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing— (give) it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled…Deuteronomy 26:12 NKJV
The tithe represented a tenth of the bounty to be shared with those under God’s special provision and care: His ministers, wandering sojourners, orphans, and widows. He specifically takes care of those who are vulnerable and unable to raise their own sustenance. God expects His true believers to partner with Him and share from their own blessings in the same way.
As a special gifting to those who obey, God promises incredible blessings in return for our faithfulness. Whenever we give back to God, He turns around and gives even more back to us. It has been said that He always uses a bigger shovel in return whenever we shovel from our blessings to give into His kingdom.
Jesus stated this in His Sermon on the Mount:
38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 NKJV
God said a similar thing through the prophet Malachi many hundred years before Christ came:
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. 11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts; Malachi 3:10-11 NKJV
God will always return more to us than we give to Him. Sometimes this is easy to forget, but it is true. I have witnessed it many times in my life and in the lives of those around me.
God will rebuke the devourer in many ways in our lives. Yes, there is a devourer, an evil one in opposition to the Lord and His kingdom. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10)
We will not go through life unscathed by the evil one’s fallout, as Job found out, but he will be rebuked by the Lord before he can devour all of the blessings God gives us. God may do this by preventing any number of difficult and expensive experiences from coming our way, such as a medical condition or collision repair bill that are avoided because the Lord stepped in to prevent it.
God may also give us special gifts. An unexpected check may arrive in the mail just when we need it. A phone call may deliver the good news that we have been hoping and praying for. A new job opportunity may come up out of the blue. There are countless ways that the Lord may choose to rebuke the devourer for those who faithfully follow Him.
“Try me now in this,” says the Lord. This is one of the few areas where He wants us to test Him. If we decide to take a step of faith to do something along these lines, we do it quietly – it is only between us and God. Ideally, we talk it over with our significant other to help decide what step to take, but we take a baby step of obedience, then watch and see what the Lord does with it. In some way, shape or form, He will likely indicate His approval. If so, this may be a sign to take a slightly bigger step the next time. He promises He will provide the material we need.
Is there a ministry that the Lord has put on your heart to help Him support? This may be the place where He wants you to begin to “try Him”. It may be a church, a soup kitchen, an orphanage, or any ministry that seeks to obey the will of the Lord by doing outreach to grow His kingdom and to glorify His name. (Note: not this one – it is free!)
Many choose to give a full tithe to their local church, as these support the same types of ministries. How one chooses to proceed is a matter of personal belief and your church’s teachings.
9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. Proverbs 22:9