Proverbs 3:9-10

9Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; 10then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Scuba Diving

How do you spend extra money? An employee of a prestigious company earns more than a hundred thousand dollars annually. He had much money to sustain his Scuba Diving hobby around the world. He is nearing retirement age, but he still leisurely spends his money Scuba Diving whenever he can and wherever his money can bring him during vacation time. Do you dream such luxurious experience of Scuba Diving?

Individuals who are very much absorbed by luxurious materialism find spiritual matters less attractive. Materialism is very enticing to most people; and sadly, a great number of believers are attracted to similar materialistic life experience as well. Of course, much wealth is far better than to be poor. We don’t need to argue with that.

Extra or not, how money could be spent practically reveals the desire of heart.

It says in Matthew 6:21, 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Usually, we spend our money to satisfy the longing of our heart. Materialism can give temporal satisfaction for a very short period of time and entice unending craving.

It feels great to have new cellphone, but wait until next year if you feel the same. Why cellphones are called cellphones? Isn’t  cell for prisoners. Cellphones imprison users.

Truly, we need practical things to survive in a materialistic world, but as believers, eternal destination is our top priority so that we honor the Lord with our wealth.

1.  First

9Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;

Let it serve as reminder for everyone that this godly command to honor the Lord with our wealth, with first fruit of all crops, can be accomplished only in godly manner: meaning, we need help and inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God to obey him perfectly.

Practically, how do we honor the Lord with our wealth? We honor him with the first fruits of all our crops. It did not specify which crop should be. It says, “All crops.”

To honor God with the first fruits, he is prioritized. It’s commonly interpreted that first fruits pertain to the tithes of God or 10% of income. Remarkably, some believers offer to the Lord their entire first month salary and then, 10% in the next months.

Giving to God the whole first month salary could be too much for many listeners. Well, faith is gift from God; pray for stronger faith until you give the tithes of God with cheerfulness not reluctantly or under pressure. We believe God loves cheerful givers.

It is also by faith that we accept what Jesus Christ had declared in Matthew 5:20: 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

What is the highest point or the pinnacle of righteousness that the Pharisees had practiced? Before Apostles Paul put his faith in Christ, he was a Pharisee. He personally testified that his personal righteousness as Pharisee was wasted effort. He recorded in Philippians 3:4-6, 4If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 

Why did Apostle Paul consider his Pharisaical righteousness as loss? In relation to his Pharisaical practices of the Law of God, he was technically faultless. Yet, his faultless Pharisaical righteousness was still not enough qualification to enter heaven, why?

Jesus had declared in Luke 11:42, 42Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

The Pharisees strictly followed the Law of tithing, even on little things they got. Was it bad? It’s not! Was it acceptable to God? They believed that all who faithfully practice tithing will be blessed; actually, have you read any biblical record of poor Pharisees?

The Pharisees selectively practice tithing for materialistic prosperity. They kept their money for personal use only; they claimed that their money is dedicated to God. Hence, they cannot give it to their elderly parents or needy relatives.

Does God bless all who practice tithing? If the Pharisees practice tithing because they believe that God will bless them materially, would God bless them? God is kind both to the righteous and the wicked. God pays back whatever anyone deserves.

Jesus said that unless our righteousness surpasses the righteousness of the Pharisees, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. If by faith, we can surpass even the strictest Pharisaical practice of tithing, God blesses and fills us with much contentment.

2.  Filled

9Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; 10then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

To be filled to overflowing is contentment with surplus excesses promised to all who honors that Lord with their wealth and with the first fruits of all their crops. The Pharisees should be included because they strictly practiced this command, right?

The practice of giving tithes of God is practical proof of respect and honor of God. It should be spontaneous for believers to practice tithing as practical proof of faith, honor and respect of God. If a believer claims to have faith in God, yet disregards the godly command of tithing, is it very admirable? Arguably, it’s doubtful pretention.

Through the Holy Scripture, we come to know the things we believe about God. The Holy Scripture defines commands that God requires for genuine believers.

Do you believe that God’s word is flawless? It says in Psalm 12:6, 6The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.

God is perfect and his ways are perfect. It also says in Psalm 18:30, 30As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.

Again, it is by faith that we believe in the authenticity of the Holy Scripture, not by human logic. By human instinct, we resist, we argue, and we want to follow our personal conviction. When conviction originates from the Holy Spirit, we are inspired and gladly obey what the Scripture says. If we admit that we cannot fully obey godly requirements stated in the Scripture then, we humbly pray for help, the Holy Spirit is active in us.

Lets’ reflect on this: Personally sense how you may react instinctively about it.

It says in Malachi 3:10-11, 10Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.

What is the first reaction that you sensed in your innermost being? If you sensed doubt that God blesses to overflowing, if you give his tithes; if you sensed like you have to explain or argue your case. Friend, pray for increase of faith and godly wisdom.

If you sensed gratitude to God that you practice tithing cheerfully, pray for strong faith and godly wisdom that you may consistently honor him with your wealth and life. If you sensed that you must surpass the Pharisaical practice of tithing, pray to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to clearly discern the situation he called you to be.

Recession is real,  economic crisis can happen anytime, but by faith we trust that the Lord had already poured out so much blessings when we faithfully practice tithing.

By faith we also believe what the Lord commands us to pray for in Jeremiah 29:7: 7Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

The Lord situates us where he designed for us to experience much of his grace and blessings. Pray for godly wisdom for our government to prioritize progress, peace and praise of God. We benefit and praise God when our city peacefully progress, right?

Personally pray for stronger faith; with stronger faith, you will sense conviction to honor the Lord with your wealth and you will never worry about material things again that includes no worry about the future of your children or retirement life.

Faith in God includes satisfying and restful contentment in him.

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