“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)
“Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:19)
Wealth is a loaded word; everyone who hears it has a particular reaction to it, and few are neutral. Christians frequently misunderstand God’s intentions and statutes about riches. We often over-simplify biblical commands and teaching because money is a complicated issue. What makes money and sexual relations so laden with emotion is the strength of the temptation to seek pleasure from both. However, like all things in life, financial and sexual desires are part of our nature, as God created us. When God created man and woman he was satisfied that they were very good (Genesis 1:31). Wise Christian living regards the amassing or using wealth for its own sake foolish, missing God’s intention that we use our finances for his glory and enjoyment with him.
Firstfruits in the Bible are mentioned quickly, starting with Cain and Abel in Genesis 4; clearly, the Lord meant this to be a fundamental part of living with him. When Israel finally entered Canaan, they were commanded to thank God for his provision of rest from their arduous journey and fulfillment of God’s promise (Deuteronomy 26:1-11). We give back to God the first or best part of our resources—a small portion of what he has given us. Wise financial stewardship must start with this principle of sacrificial giving as a priority in our lives, regardless of our economic status, like the widow with her two small copper coins. Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:3-4) She put the Lord first in her heart and mind, and her money followed.
As we approach worship today, let’s be cognizant of this principle of worship, since we are called to give our lives, our resources, and our talents to the Lord. In the hymn, “Take My Life,” Frances R. Havergal was impassioned by the conversion of two girls and penned her powerful commitment to give everything to God. She asked the Lord to take her life, moments, days, hands, feet, voice, lips, will, heart, love, and her very self for his use. But the fourth stanza is the one that always feels extremely personal to me, and especially convicting: “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use, every power as thou shalt choose.” Two things that our world highly values, and we tend to worship is money and intelligence. When these are hoarded, wasted, or misused, we miss the blessings that God would otherwise provide.
Today as your worship, will you only give your voice, lips, feet, and hands, or will you also give God his due from your bank account? Will you confess that you only want to give God what is comfortable and convenient, and instead use the wisdom He has given you to discern the truth in what you hear and your response to it? As we begin the specific work to sanctify our financial attitudes, priorities, and gifts, let’s ask Jesus to work in us through worship and praise.