Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Giving God the First Part of Our Income

One of the characteristics of a wise person, according to Solomon in Prov 3:9, is prioritizing the use of one’s resources for God: “Honor Yahweh from your wealth, from the first part of all your produce.”

The question for Christians in the light of this is: how often do we have God at number one on our shopping list? Most of us spend money firstly on the things that we need to spend money on; and if we have any money left over, then this is either used on purchasing discretionary items or saved. If you have a family, there is always the weekly shopping to do. Then there is the phone bill, the broadband bill, the electricity bill, the water bill, and petrol for the car. If you do not have a family or are still living at home, then you tend to spend your money on yourself … what clothes you might like or the latest gadget you want to buy. Some of us may currently be saving up money in the hope of buying a house one day, or maybe your eye is on going overseas for a holiday. The problem is that we plan all of our own expenditure before being concerned about how we can promote God’s work in the world. We spend money during the week, and sometimes it is only when Sunday arrives that we think about giving a little bit back to God.

But Solomon says the first part of our produce or income should be given over to God. The teaching in this verse reflects the laws of Exod 23:19; 34:26; Num 18:12; Deut 18:4, which state that “the first part of the firstfruits of the ground” should be brought to the Lord in the temple. How many of us when we receive a pay cheque, or when our wages are paid into our account, think straight away about we can use some of that money for God and his purposes? If you were suddenly to receive a cheque for $100,000, what thought would come to your mind? Great, now I can pay off my mortgage faster! Or great, now I can go overseas on holiday for three months! Or great, now I can buy a new car, and still have some left over! Instead, the proper response should be something like: Wow, God has given me these tremendous financial resources; how can I use some of this for him by promoting the work of his church or through caring for those in need? What we immediately think in our heads as we receive the money in our hands shows up our priorities. The wise person has contributing to God’s work as a priority. God should be first on our list of expenditure.

When giving to the church or to Christian causes, we should not think that this is lost money. Obviously to give to the church to the point that we cannot provide for ourselves or our family is not correct, but having said that God actually tells us that having his expenditure at the top of our list is the way to wealth. Proverbs 3:10 teaches that the generosity that we show towards God is multiplied back to us as God generously responds. Storehouses filled with abundance, wine vats bursting with new wine … all of this is a picture of God’s blessing (both physical and spiritual) upon those who generously contribute to God’s plan for the extension of his kingdom in the world.

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