Proverbs • Sermon • Submitted
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HERE WE ARE AT THE TWO OPPOSITE EXTREMES OF LIFE—when the good times roll and when hardship strikes.
When life is sweet, trusting God with all our hearts feels unnecessary.
When life is bitter, trusting God with all our hearts feels impossible.
We need wisdom for those seasons in life when we are on top and for those seasons in life when nothing is going right.
God is with us in both, with a wisdom that makes a positive difference.
Earlier in Proverbs 3, God calls us to trust him wholeheartedly (v. 5).
Now, in Proverbs 3:9–12, he leads us to trust him wholeheartedly when we are pushed out to these two opposite edges of our lives—plenty and pain.
Wisdom in Plenty
Solomon gives us his counsel (v. 9), with an incentive (v. 10).
What is his counsel? “Honor the Lord with your wealth.”
The Hebrew verb translated “honor” means “to treat the Lord as weighty.”
The root of the verb means “to be heavy,” even as we today might say that a person carries social weight.
That is what money communicates—prestige, rank, importance.
It is all around us every day.?
The sad truth is, we honor ourselves with our money, and the Lord gets second best if he is lucky.
But wisdom changes us.
Wisdom is saying, “Make the Lord famous and prominent by means of your wealth. Use your money to increase his prestige in your world.”
There is also a Hebrew verb for the opposite of honoring.
It means “to make light of, to regard as trifling and frivolous.”
As God looks at your financial priorities, should he consider himself honored or slighted?
Somebody gets the honor of first place in your monthly budget.
Who is in that first place of honor?
Here are some truths we must understand about verses 9, 10.
First, the esv says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth.”
But the nasb is a more literal translation: “Honor the Lord from your wealth.”
What difference does that make?
I might say, “Hey, I’m honoring the Lord when I pay my light bill on time and when I take my wife out to dinner and so forth, because all my money belongs to God and I’m doing good things with it, I’m not doing bad things, and that honors the Lord.”
That is how I might “honor the Lord” with my wealth, and I could do that without ever giving a dime away.
But Proverbs 3:9 is actually saying, “Honor the Lord from your wealth.”
That is, he gets a cut from my wealth.
I part with some of my money for his sake. I give it away for his sake.
Second, the next line of the verse explains how I truly honor the Lord from my wealth: “… and with the firstfruits of all your produce.”
The firstfruits were the best of the harvest (Numbers 18:12, 13).
Exodus 23:19 says, “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.”
So then, how do we honor the Lord from our wealth?
By giving away to him our first and our best. He comes first in our budgets—ahead even of taxes.
How can wise people be tightfisted?
God our Father is sharing his resources with us to expand the family business—the gospel enterprise.
He is entrusting into our care his own money, and we are investing his funds for his greater glory in the world today. H
e has made us his investment brokers.
We invest 10 percent as a tithe, and he pays us a 90 percent commission!
He is such a good boss to work for.
God loves to give even more to his children who understand what money is for and handle it wisely:
… then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:10)
God’s capacity to give far exceeds our capacity to receive.
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
He does not mean by that, “Give money to God, and he’ll make you rich.”
If that were the message, the Lord would not be honored, he would be used.
Jesus is not arousing our greed.
When then does he mean?
He means, as God’s people have experienced with great joy throughout history, if you invest for his sake, he will give you more to invest for his sake.
Matthew Henry, the old Puritan scholar, said this about verse 10:
God will bless you with an increase of that which is for use, not for show, for giving away, not for hoarding. Those who do good with what they have shall have more to do more good with.
If you love Jesus, nothing could make you happier than to do more good for his sake.
Why? Because here is how he treated you: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
I think a wise person would honor someone like that.