“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty… A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 21:5; 28:20)
Many of our local Christian churches will offer sermons about God’s love, mercy, and grace. Unfortunately, many preachers are neglecting to provide us with the helpful warnings that abound in Scripture, and instead offer those that will further their own and others’ careers, popularity, and followings. In 2013 the Huffington Post, which seeks to keep power accountable, featured an article about Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer which is remarkable since it’s a secular magazine. * Other preachers who also have large TV, book, and internet followings would do well to heed the warnings in Proverbs 21 and 28.
These verses commend those who are diligent and faithful, promising abundance and blessings for them. However, those who want to get rich quickly will only procure poverty and punishment. These warnings are parallel to that of Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” Proud, egotistical people are usually the ones who promote get-rich-quick-schemes. They mislead the naïve and weak, abusing their power for their own benefit. I sincerely hope that the preachers at your local church do not follow their examples or try to promote themselves or their own teaching.
When we attend church services on the Sabbath, our goal should be to honor Jesus Christ, our Savior, by our diligence and faithfulness, through our worship, prayers, fellowship, and Bible study. Our financial giving is to be an act of worship in faith, to return to the Lord a small portion of what he has given us, in thanksgiving. If we put money in the collection plate because we are looking for a return, we are abusing God’s generosity. If you’ve ever had a child who believes that she should be paid to do all her chores, you have some appreciation of God’s viewpoint. You work, cook, shop, and do everything to provide for your children, and yet they only want more, refusing to acknowledge the blessing of your generosity by pitching in. We must teach our children what Scripture teaches us, that we owe the one who provides for us, returning a debt of love, which sometimes takes the form of a financial contribution (Romans 13:7-8).
Consider for a moment everything that Jesus Christ gave for us—his humble birth, perfect life, insults, mocking, physical and emotional abuse, betrayal by his followers, his atoning, sacrificial death, his time on earth before ascending into heaven, and his continual intercession for us. Should we not give him a small portion of our material resources? Wouldn’t we do well to plan for our church giving, so that it’s not something we do impulsively or emotionally, but diligently and faithfully? Is it unreasonable to think that we should spend a time examining the amount of our giving and the ministries which are supported by it? How much does your church spend on administration and salaries, compared to missions and outreach? How does your church’s budget reflect its mission and priorities?
Will you invest in your church’s work by wisely knowing how much to contribute, and where your money is going? Will you worship the Lord with your finances, as you do with your heart, mind, and voice?