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In our last message, Solomon advised us against relying on our own ability to think and reason. It’s best to trust in the Lord. When you follow Christ, He’s going to straighten your path. It’s no guarantee that everything will be peachy, but He will be there with you in all your trials and tribulations. This morning, Solomon brings up a new topic that dovetails with the mandate in v. 6 that says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him.”
In Proverbs 3:9-12 Solomon tells his son, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”
Are you asking yourself, this again? It seems no matter where you turn in Scripture, the topic of finances seem to come up. Old Testament and New, in the gospels, in prophecy and poetry, in Paul’s and Peter’s letters we find the topic of money. While some folks would prefer not to talk about it, God feels it needful to bring it up no matter where you turn in the Bible. He knew and knows the tendency we have to elevate money above all other things. Paul warned Timothy that, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Tim. 6:10) Way before Paul came on the scene Solomon told his son to, “Honor the Lord from your wealth.” There might not be a better way to gauge a person’s faith and trust in the Lord than with their bank account. Notice that this isn’t a suggestion. We demonstrate our love, gratitude, and obedience to God when we give to Him. Deut. 8:18 says, “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Our ability to earn anything comes from God. We honor God not only with actual money, but also, “From the first of all your produce.” Produce can also be translated first fruits. Ex. 23:19 says, “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.” In Bible times, farming was common and it was expected to give the first and best of the harvest back to God.
For today, the application would be that you give of the first that you produce. That means when you get paid, you set aside a portion to give back to God. What portion you may ask? If you want to adhere to the O.T. standard, then give 10%. If you want to argue that tithing is not taught in the N.T., fine, give generously. What is generous? I would say that 10% is a good place to start. What if you don’t have a job and don’t earn a paycheck? The principle is to give from your first fruits, from whatever you may receive. Birthday money, graduation money, allowance, structured settlements, annuities, publisher’s clearing house winnings, etc. Give back! Why do this? Why all the fuss about money? Because God knows that money tends to separate us from Him. Too many people believe money is an end rather than an end to a means. I know people who have begged God for a job or a better paying job with all kinds of promises. When God delivers, those promises are forgotten. Why would God bless you with a better job when you haven’t honored him in the job you have right now?
Solomon says we give back, “So our barns are filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.” The result of your generosity releases God’s generosity. The word for plenty here is better translated sufficient amount or more than enough. It means you’ll have what you need. Sometimes we have a twisted way of thinking that bigger is better and more equates with God’s blessing on us. Haggai told the people, “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.” (Hag. 1:6) The reason for this was people were taking care of themselves and neglecting God’s house. The premise is blessings will come, but they don’t always come in the format we’d like or expect.
Verses 9-10 talk about honoring God during times of plenty, but that shifts in the next verses to something different. Solomon offers up a seemingly abrupt shift and talks about God’s discipline. Too often we shun God’s discipline or correction. It’s funny that we whine and complain about this. We don’t give a rip when our kids whine and complain when we discipline them for wrongdoing, but when it’s us . . . we cry out for mercy. Look at the stern warning for Solomon’s son in vs. 11-12 as he says, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” That word discipline carries some negative connotations. We typically use it in reference to punishment, but the word can also mean instruction and that’s the meaning here. Our walk of faith is a continual training ground where we learn and mature in our faith. Sometimes that instruction comes as a result of unpleasant circumstances. Heb. 5:8 reminds us, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
Sometimes, and it seems lately from the people that I am engaged with, professing believers become angry with God when these circumstances present themselves. Somehow God is to blame for the problems instead of the One that we should run to. Christ suffered immense pain, yet it was not because of His sin. Sometimes we suffer and are in emotional or physical pain because we live in a fallen world and God is providing instruction to us in how to glorify Him. Don’t hate God’s reprimand. No one likes to get scolded or talked to or otherwise dealt with. If I’m doing wrong or have done something wrong and no one tells me, how will I learn? It’s the same way with God. Don’t hate it when God rebukes you for violating His principles. Learn from it. It’s a sign of His love and concern for you: “For whom the Lord loves, He reproves.” In practical terms, we sometimes see the opposite of this played out too. It typically occurs in a store. Little kids begging for some piece of candy or a toy and mom or dad says no. That kid often pitches a royal fit demanding they get what they want. Sometimes parents are filled with empty threats of punishment that rarely come. When you correct your children, it demonstrates your love for them. It’s the same with God. His correction and discipline for us demonstrates His immeasurable love for us.
Honor God by giving back to Him. He expects our obedience and He will provide the training, correction, and reprimands necessary to ensure we stay on the right path. He also encourages us by saying well done. Do right because it’s right to do. Seek to please God and welcome His correction. Think of how much you love your children and yet you discipline them. Think how much more God loves you.