Part 5: God

Your first priority – both with your money and in creating a budget, should be to “Honour God.” Remember the verse from proverbs 3: 9-10, “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

Unfortunately, we all must admit that for most Christians, frequently this isn’t the case – and particularly when thinking about our finances. I still am impacted by a skit from a retreat over thirty-five years ago. A man and a woman on the make-shift stage mimicked a couple working on creating a budget at their kitchen table. They started with the vacation they wanted in the summer, then added in their mortgage payments, food, entertainment, clothes and so forth. When they subtracted their budget expenses from their net income, they had about one percent remaining. “Oh, we can give that to the church,” they exclaimed.

The skit started over with the same scene but a different couple. This couple’s first priority right out of the box was their church, and they set aside 10 percent right off the back. They worked their way down the priority list, and realized they would have to save up two years for the big vacation they wanted to take. Watching the two episodes, I realized immediately I wanted to be like the second couple and not the first.

Note that Proverbs does not say to honour God with your last fruits! We should bring Him our best, as soon as they are beginning to be received – not what we have left over at the end of a long spending spree.

At the time of the skits, I had no idea that “honouring the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase” was connected to the remarkable promise that God promises His covenant people. “So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and they presses shall burst out with new wine.” Wow! Some promise.

So the place to start our budgeting is by dedicating to God right at the beginning of the process a portion of every thing we receive. Since there is a lot of discussion amongst advisors about how big a portion and when, I want to offer you some guidelines right out of scripture.

We’ll use Paul’s clear admonition from 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”

I’ll share a secret with you. I truly believe that the most important one thing a couple can do to get their finances straight is to put God first. Yes, it requires faith, but I want to underscore that you can count on God to hold up His part of the bargain. It was about fifteen years ago when one of the families at our small church got super stretched and appeared to be heading for bankruptcy. As their income had dwindled, they had stopped their previously sporadic giving altogether, and now they were at rock bottom.

Guess what they did after they became convicted that one thing they had not been doing was trusting in God! They started giving. It was not a large amount of money, but it was probably ten percent of what they were receiving. And within a week, their outlook began to change and God richly blessed them for the next decade. This is a pattern I have seen time after time.

The Old Testament shed a lot more light on honoring God with our finances. The admonition in Deuteronomy is to give the “first fruits” of ones endeavors. I like this way of thinking, and it underscores the timing concept (right as you receive your money).

In summary, give regularly as money comes in, in proportion to your income. And make it an extravagant proportion! There are multiple times that Jesus even suggests giving all! Now that’s extravagant! Also, note that Paul doesn’t say tithe (giving a tenth), but leaves the exact amount up to each individual and God.

A review of the Old Testament scriptures reveals that giving a tenth of what you receive is a good starting point in coming up with a minimum number. Check out God’s promise: “Bring 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 you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10) Those who have been more abundantly blessed can certainly give more. Those for whom income is scarce may have to give a bit less, but remember the widow who Jesus loved for giving all that she had. May our faith in God grow that we might be able to trust God fully with our finances. As one of my friends shared, let our giving be a “wonderful, fragrant reminder of who God is!”

1 Response to Part 5: God

  1. “wonderful, fragrant reminder of who God is!” I love this line. I pray Lord it will be so!

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