Proverbs 3:9-10 (ESV) Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Honor the Lord with the firstfruits of all you produce. Love is not an emotion it is an action. It is a noun demonstrated by a verb not an adjective. Love has an extensive definition according to I Corinthians 13. Just a few verses that challenge the entire concept according to the context of worldly like and lust put in its place. One of the attributes of love is found in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The example of Jesus Christ to all mankind. It’s funny how the word “tithing” sends a jolt through people. Bristling at the thought of giving up a tenth of the income makes way for many excuses. So before you decide this message is not for you today, I am not after your money and neither is the Lord. In fact, according to Psalm 50:8-15, God is well-supplied with an abundance and needs nothing from us. Acts 17:24-25 describes it this way – “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Before you get your knickers in a twist, please understand tithing is not a requirement of salvation. Obedience is the opportunity to experience the richness and prosperity of Heaven. The work of Jesus Christ that provides us with grace is more than enough. We are made right with God by the sacrificial offering of Jesus when He laid down His Life for us and by fully accepting Him as our Savior. Yet, there is more. There is an abundance for those who decide to make Jesus Lord of their life. To honor Him and live in allegiance to His Kingdom.
Honor the Lord with… Honor simply put is to worship. To hold in high honor and treat with respect. It also means to accept as valid and conform to the request. The Lord puts it simple and straightforward through the writer of Proverbs. Honor the Lord with your wealth and the firstfruits of all your produce…THEN your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine. There are three resources from which I can give to the Lord. My time. My talent. My treasure. Time is the most valuable. Talent will result in obedience. To give my treasure or the tangible blessings in my life will produce abundance. Increasing the equity in my life. How? The seed produces like kind fruit. Sow your time. You will harvest time. Sow your talent. You will harvest talent. Sow your treasure. You will harvest treasure. What you are willing to sacrifice will be your reward.
Sowing and reaping are not Biblical principles altogether. When God instituted the principle, it was for all mankind not just His People. Therefore if a farmer sows a seed, it will grow because that is what it is commanded to do by God naturally. However, when we make the choice to obey the Lord and return a tenth of the firstfruits to Him, suddenly the same seed is blessed. Faith makes all things possible but faith is not demonstrated by what we see but by trusting the Lord with what is unseen. We give God our time. The most precious commodity of our life. We give Him certain talents. However, when it is time to sow the tangible things in life – most people choose not to. I believe God wants to bless your life today. I know He wants to bless me.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24) To honor the Lord in whatever you do…work heartily as for the Lord and not men. People tend to live two separate lives. A natural life and spiritual life cannot coexist. There can be only one master. You can only serve one at a time. Therefore, if you want a supernatural life it comes at the price of pride and human productivity. A spiritual life is one that is surrendered and submitted to Jesus Christ allowing His Spirit to produce a godly life working inside and making His Way out of you. To be called a Christian is to take up our cross daily not just on Sunday and Wednesdays. The Light of His Love is to shine through us always. It illuminates our homes, workplaces and every other place that is frequented. The work of our hands will produce something but until our soul prospers it is limited. When faith is the foundation of our life and the Word of God sown in a fertile heart, it produces obedience. Obedience is a form of worship that says, “Lord, I believe in You and trust You with my life.” Only the part or portion of our life sold out and surrendered to the Lord as an act of worship will be blessed. Faith only works where it is applied. God is expanding the boundaries personally set in our heart and mind to live in His Abundance and have a rich and satisfying life. What are you withholding today that is limiting your increase?
Malachi 3:8-10 (ESV) Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
Thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts. God invites us to test Him. The God of the Universe who does not need us but desires us offers us the opportunity to test Him. What is the tithe of your life? What is your contribution to God? He promises that if we tithe our life to Him that He will open the windows of heaven over our life and pour out a blessing until there is no more need. You will be satisfied. You will be fulfilled. You will live in abundance of time, talent and treasure. Not because you did anything other than put good seed of faith in God’s Soil called trust and He did exactly what He said that He would do. It’s not the lottery. It is the Word working and doing exactly what God said. This is not just about your money. It is about every area of your natural life. However, if you do not participate in tithing then there really is no reason to think God will increase your life. Why? There is no seed for the Sower.
Matthew 23:23-24 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”
Tithing the firstfruits of our life is evidence of faith in God. It was instituted by Abraham in Genesis 14:20 when he gave a tenth of all he had to Melchizedek the High Priest. In Leviticus 27:30-32, the tithe is called holy. Deuteronomy 14:22 – it is a command. Deuteronomy 26:1-2 tells us the tithe is an invitation for God to dwell with us, live in our land, and be our source. In Nehemiah 10:35, it is described as perpetual. We are to give the best of our firstfruits (Exodus 23:19) not what is leftover but first pick of the best things in our life. Are you giving the Lord the best parts of your life today? Or just the broken pieces and leftovers? It is seed in the ground of your life sown in trust. The portion of our life given to God is the productivity of our faith. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to produce abundance and do the impossible. If your life is not marked by miracles and supernatural increase, it would be best to consider the seed of faith being sown.
What are you given to God to use for His Glory? What are you honoring Him with today? Is He getting the best part of you or just what’s left after the world takes what it wants? We would rather give an offering that sow a sacrifice of self. Fear of lack or loss will hinder the possibilities of faithful sowing in our life. It will stop up the windows of Heaven. It will bar increase from entering in. It will stifle abundance because there is nothing for it to come from. To have the rich and satisfying life promised to us by Jesus means giving up this less than enough life that we live. All of it. Withholding nothing from the sowing and reaping of God’s Kingdom but giving Him our absolute best and most valuable parts.
Luke 18:10-14 (ESV) “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
John 15:4 (ESV) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
John 15:7-8 (ESV) If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
The Lord invites us to partner with Him now and forever. In this life, there is the challenge of integrating our spiritual and natural life into a godly one. We must abide in Christ to prosper. When I got married, my husband and I combined bank accounts. His income was greater than mine but when I looked at the bank statement it didn’t say this belonged to him and this was mine. It was our financial statement. The years that I stayed home with our children. He didn’t come to me and require a contribution to the account. He trusted me to take care of our household and nurture our children. Tithing our life is a contribution to the partnership and union offered to us by Jesus Christ. We have time to give. We have talent to give. We have treasures to give. Tithes and firstfruits that are seeds to the fruitful abundance offered in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Vine. I am a branch. From the beginning of our marriage, we have tithed in regard to our finances. It is evident not necessarily in the bottom line but the fact that God has incrementally increased us over time. He has kept us in during tough financial times. We have experienced God’s Favor in so many ways that I cannot begin to list them all for you now. But if the only area of our life partnered with God is our finances, then our finances would be the only thing thriving. It is important to continually examine our heart and hands to see what there is to honor the Lord with. Our worship is not in our words but demonstrated in faith and trust. To continually invest more and more of our life into God’s Kingdom. Sowing seeds of faith, love and trust beyond any tangible giving until our entire existence is partnered with Jesus and His Kingdom.
Mathematically the tithe is one-tenth. Do you give one-tenth of your waking hours to the Lord? If we sleep six hours leaving eighteen hours in a day, it would mean dedicating and offering God just under two hours of our day. Seems like a lot, until you consider what He can do in us with those two hours. The fundamental test of tithing is trust. Do you trust the Lord at His Word? Do you believe that He is faithful? Find something. Anything. A portion of your life that you are willing to give to the Lord and sow into His Kingdom. No excuses. Just do it.
I leave you with this story. I worked part-time as a church secretary many years ago. A woman and her young child came to the office one day. She shared that her husband would not allow her to give to the church. He would not allow her to tithe or even give an offering. So she loaded her car with supplies and came to offer to clean the church. Now there was a cleaning service who maintained the building so there really wasn’t anything to clean at that time. She seemed discouraged and went out the door. The next thing I know she is cleaning the windows on a hot summer day. The smile on her face shining brighter than the sun as she gave her offering to the Lord with gladness. She has been a living testimony to me ever since. Such a humble example for us all. What can you give today? What are you willing to offer? God is open and ready to receive us as we honor Him and wants to bless us for it.
Proverbs 22:4 (ESV) The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.