Proverbs 3:9-10 "Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
For an author or speaker to be effective, credibility is a must. Credibility is especially important if the author or speaker is addressing money matters. It’s easy to tell someone else what they should do with their money. It’s easy to tell someone else how they should or shouldn’t spend their money. But when someone does such a courageous thing, his or her audience instinctively asks, “Have you done that with your money?” Anyone willing to tell someone else how to manage their money immediately becomes the center of investigatory attention. For a person to be taken seriously in the area of finances, they must prove credible in the matter. Dave Ramsey is a successful Christian author and speaker on finances because his net worth is approximately $55 million. People are willing to take his advice because he has something credible to show for it. People follow his instruction and make major life decisions because he has well over fifty more million dollars than the average person. His personal success with money automatically renders his financial advice credible.
Of all the authors in the Bible, no one addressed money more than the son of David. In the Book of Proverbs and in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes about money on a number of occasions. His advice should be taken very seriously because he offers a tremendous amount of fiscal credibility. When God appeared to Solomon in Gibeon and asked him what he wanted, Solomon didn’t ask for wealth, instead choosing wisdom. Knowing man’s natural draw toward money, God was impressed and responded with these words in 2 Chronicles: “Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself…Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.” As God promised, Solomon became the wealthiest king of his day. 1 Kings 10:23, “So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.” A recent article on lovemoney.com rated King Solomon of Israel the fifth richest person of all time with a peak net worth of $2.2 trillion based on how many tons of gold he owned.
Growing up with gold, Rehoboam would be well aware of his father’s financial success. Given that obvious success, Rehoboam would’ve been foolish to disregard his father’s instruction on finances and so would any reader of Solomon’s writings. Clearly, he did something right. He understood the priority in which finances should be placed. He chose to put the value of wealth well beneath the value of wisdom. He understood that wealth wouldn’t solve his problems nor would it bring him success. The son of royalty himself, Solomon had enough sense to put riches in perspective. The proof of Solomon’s wisdom was his ability to manage the world’s greatest wealth without letting that wealth corrupt him. He was one of this world’s most exceptional figures because of how little impact such wealth had on his character and spirit. The overwhelming majority of men and women in this world cannot handle wealth. It could easily be argued that money, more than anything else, corrupts the human heart. Like a champion bull, there are precious few in this world that have been able to stay on wealth’s wild ride. Solomon had his weakness, but it wasn’t gold or silver.
Given his economic credibility, let us take Solomon’s financial advice very seriously. When he addressed money matters for the first time in any of his writings, he taught his son to honor God with it. More important than using money to provide for his family, Rehoboam was instructed to use his money to please his God. More important than saving his money for a rainy day, Rehoboam was instructed to spend his money as an expression of worship. More important than avoiding debt to a lender, Rehoboam was instructed to avoid debt to his Creator. More important than using his money to help the poor, Rehoboam was instructed to use his money to honor the Lord. A sound financial strategy starts with honoring God with your finances. As important as a budget is, it is worthless if it doesn’t start with honoring God. For a man worth $2.2 trillion, it all started with honoring God with his substance.
These verses on money were not inserted into this chapter randomly or glibly. Their location in the text are intentional. Solomon has been trying to impress on his son the need to acknowledge God in all his ways and not to rely on himself. He is trying to teach his son that he can’t lean on his own understanding, instead needing to trust God. Is there any greater arena in which we struggle trusting God than in the arena of finances? Is there any area of our lives where we like to be in control than in the area of money? At first glance, giving God money through tithes and offerings makes no financial sense (unless a large donation to a church can help reduce a tax burden). There isn’t a financial advisor not using the Bible that would make giving to God the most important element of a sound financial strategy. There isn’t a financial advisor outside of the Christian community that would consider giving to God critical to monetary success. If Rehoboam was “wise in his own eyes” (verse 7), he wouldn’t see the value in honoring God with his substance, especially with his best (“firstfruits”). If his son was to be successful, Solomon knew that he needed to learn to acknowledge God in “all his ways,” including in his financial ways. If his son was to be successful, Solomon knew that he needed to honor God with his financial best.
This wise and wealthy man teaches us to place a high financial and spiritual priority on honoring God with our substance, in particular with the firstfruits of all our increase. When it comes to finances, God is not honored with our intentions. When it comes to money, God is not honored with our plans. He is not honored with what we want to do if we had more. He is not honored with what we hope to do when we can. He is not honored with what we promise to do if He does what we pray He will do. God is honored with our tangible offering, with our substance. According to the Holy Spirit-inspired words of Proverbs 3, God blesses tangible offerings with tangible blessings. Honoring God with our substance results in receiving from God more substance. Honoring God with our palpable firstfruits results in receiving from God more fruit. God is honored when we give Him substance from the barn, not intentions from the heart. God is honored when we give Him the best of our increase, not the leftovers of our increase.
Solomon learned very early what it takes children of God too long to learn – it makes financial sense to give God “the firstfruits of all our increase” because it is ultimately God who gives that increase (1 Cor. 3:7). When God is not honored with our substance, why would God bless our substance? When God is not offered the firstfruits, why would God bless any of our fruits? Furthermore, when we acknowledge God’s hand in our increase, why wouldn’t we honor Him with that increase? To the Bible-believer, it makes tremendous fiscal sense to honor and thank God with our financial increase. To the God-fearing and God-loving Christian, it should make incredible sense to use our money to thank God for His financial blessings. But hey, don’t take it from me – take it from a man worth $2.2 trillion.
Posted in Proverbs Commentary
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