One of the greatest attacks against the church today is money. This happens from all corners and angles against the foolishness that is often preached today. Before we get into this text, let’s work through these attacks.
It has been said the church only cares about money. That is all they preach on, that is all they drive for, that is all they covet, literally. This is easily seen why this is thought when we simply look around at the state of American Churches. This comes from those whom the church is to win! They attack the church for its greed, and in many cases, rightfully so.
But there is a second attack that comes against the church from inside. Through the guise and hellish preaching, many “preachers” (and I use that term loosely) ascribe to the prosperity gospel theology. This theology simply states that if you give money, no matter how much, you will reap back more. You give $10 you get $100. Give a $1000 gift, and you will not only get a few books, a rag that was prayed over, but also $10K. Plus, God’s will is never for us to be sick, and to be very wise.
These attacks against the “church” that hold to these beliefs are justified. Not only from the world that looks on with wary eyes, but also true Christians that call out the sin of this false teaching. Dear reader, this teaching is prevalent in modern Christianity. The issue becomes they hijack the name of Christ and makes the rest of us who stick to the Scripture and teach the Word, have to work doubly hard because not only are we having to go against the grain of society, but now we have to also distinguish ourselves from outside the lump the world conglomerates together. Since the world already hates us, these high profile “pastors” make it harder for the rest. Indeed, their greed and self preaching will destroy them in time.
But, all that to say, the Bible is not silent about money. It is believed the number two major reason for divorce is this discussion about money. So to have a healthy understanding of money is vital. As such, the passage we are looking at seems to support the Prosperity Gospel. Give and your barns will be filled. But what is going on here?
First, before we even get to Proverbs 3:9, we have to look at what we needed to do to get here. Everything, up to this point, has been completely focused on God, His laws, His commands, His truth. Second, Everything up to this point is based on our trust in the Lord, not ourselves. Acknowledging Him above all things first. Lastly, everything here has to be based on God’s Wisdom, fear in Him, and departing from evil.
Then, Proverbs 3:9 can take affect. Why is this important? James tells us in James 4:2-3. The issue with the prosperity gospel preaching is that it inflames the lust and evil desire for more mammon here on earth. How bad is this? One T.V. preacher actually made the comment that if someone threw a $1K over his fenced in yard, He would beg God to hold of returning so he could collect it. No, this is not a joke. He would hold of God’s return for some paper.
Jesus spoke clearly about mammon – Matthew 6:24-26. We either serve God (which is everything Proverbs 3:1-8 tells us) or we serve money. No one can serve both which tells us that anyone who preaches this prosperity gospel is serving a false god. One of their own making. Do we truly wish to follow them?
Further, in looking at how we are supposed to handle money, I would encourage us to consider looking at Matthew 6:33. Some may argue
See? We get stuff added to us if we seek God first!
Really? Is that what this verse is teaching? First, many who preach this are the ones benefiting. Ask a congregant of the prosperity gospel preachers, how much they have ever gotten back because of their donation. Chances are, you will find very few that are better off. But the pastor? New planes, cars (and not cheap cars either), yachts, homes, etc. Someone is making off, and it isn’t the people who are giving. I cry for them because for some they give their last little bit.
In a very well known interview, one of these “pastors” was asked how they felt about asking for money from someone who has barely enough to pay their rent. The response,
I don’t think about it.
I assure you, this individual is very well to do and is very popular in many churches today with their traveling and seminars. When pressed on this, they doubled down and said it does not bother them. And if I gave the name, I would be criticized because of the popularity. But that is why I am not saying.
But going back to Matthew 6:33, this is not what this verse is saying. Look up to Matthew 6:31-32. Notice what is in picture: Water to drink, clothes to wear, and food to eat. Not even a home, money, mode of transportation, etc.
Then in Matthew 6:32, those who pursue and desire for these are called gentiles. They were the ones whom Jesus did not have in His midst and He is drawing a clear line of separation between the gentiles and the disciples. Those who pursue after these things are not doing what the disciples are called to do.
What are they called to do? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This is not a pursuit of money or possessions. This a pursuit for holiness. It is a pursuit for God’s righteousness. I could say much about this, but understand, the very “righteousness” of the world is often the furthest things from Biblical and Godly righteousness. Then and only then, will our basic needs be met.
Please look at that last sentence. Our BASIC needs will be met. These basic needs are not wants and desires. Many sadly miss this point. Please understand the significance of this. Now we look at Proverbs 3:9 again. It is in this verse we find the call to honor the Lord first. Everything we own should honor the Lord. This is easier said than done, and some may say, I do that. Let’s put it to a series of tests:
1. We are driving on the road. Do we break the speed limit? If not, it is not pleasing to the Lord to disobey authority. “But you don’t understand! That jerk in front of me was doing 10 mph in a 65! I had to do 90 to get around him!!!!” Careful, that individual is created in God’s image, and therefore should be, in that regard, worthy of some, no matter how minimal, level of respect. Failure to do so is also not pleasing.
2. Let’s try our entertainment, whether T.V. books, etc. What do we read or watch? Some books are just as filthy as the R or M rated shows. Do we honor God with our entertainment? How about our cell phone, music, lights, etc.? Everything can and will be weighed in this reality. Not our own doing or what we know culture says is acceptable.
3. How about our wallet? Money? What do we give money to? Who do we support? It doesn’t matter if it is church, entertainment, political, social, etc. What is our money going to? If someone wants to know if I can tell what is valued, I can. All I have to see is where the money is spent (Luke 12:34?).
Uncomfortable? I hope. But this is the life the Christian is called to. What is often put forward on T.V., including the one pastor who was caught blasting his church because they didn’t give him the fancy, expensive watch he wanted. They got him something else, is not.
The point of Proverbs 3:9 is to honor the Lord first. If that means we do without because God’s work and Kingdom needs first, then that is what it means. We can see this in Luke 21:1-4. She gave everything. This goes back to the heart. It is all about the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).
But one more point here before moving one. It deals with God’s righteousness first. It deals with everything from Proverbs 3:1-8. Lastly, it is also done without compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7). We cannot be forced to give. So what is the end result?
Proverbs 3:10. Our barns will be filled, and new wine will flow. This, without everything mentioned above, would absolutely support the prosperity gospel (and as a side note, how do we handle those who preach this gospel? Galatians 1:8 should be heeded.) which is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet we have to deal with this verse because it is here.
Everything hinges on Proverbs 3:1-8, the catalyst is Proverbs 3:9, and that makes Proverbs 3:10 possible. But notice a few things here. First, there will be plenty. Plenty is a broad word in a general sense, but in the Bible, it referrs to possibly two things: First, and predominately, it dealss with the plenty of food (Genesis 41:29-31, 34, 47, 53, here in Proverbs 3:10). The only place it deviates from this is Ecclesiastes 5:12. This shows the difference between those who work for their money and it matters little if he eats much or little. But for the rich will lose all sleep because of their abundance (same Hebrew word). It would seem that for all their money, they have a lot of concern.
How does the prosperity gospel preachers deal with this? They have to feed the machine for sure and that machine involves staff, planes, lights, bills, homes, cars, etc. If the money is cut off, they lose a lot. So much so that a very famous prosperity preacher once said,
Don’t you stop tithing. No matter how hard things are, you keep tithing.
So much for having concern for those under them. Do we see the fear? For a Christian who is following Proverbs 3:1-8 like they should, fulfill Proverbs 3:9, this is not an issue. Why? They are comforted with the promise of Jesus: Matthew 6:32 (God knows our needs more than we do), Matthew 6:11 (our daily sustenance is given by God and He will provide), and lastly, Psalm 50:10 (God has enough resources to meet my needs). That, my dear reader, brings peace. It is in that place, we will have all of our needs filled. It may not make us wealthy. It will make us content and that is very important – 1 Timothy 6:6. I do wish to add one final point before moving on. Wealth is not bad. Physical wealth is not evil. It is the love of money that is evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Many of these famous preachers are all about the money. As one said, in the middle of the talk they were given,
It is all about the money
But God, in His plan, mercy, and grace, will bless some with wealth. There is nothing wrong there as long as the individual remembers who gave the wealth, and does Proverbs 3:9-10 and all that was said above. We should rejoice in that. Especially if this individual worked hard and God blessed the work of the hands (Deuteronomy 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:11). That is what we rejoice over. God blessed those who worked hard, and God prospered them. This is not what the prosperity gospel preaches.
Now we know how this passage works, we should, because we do not want to avoid teaching the topic, deal with this concept of tithing, first fruits, and money. As I started as a preacher, my practice is to take the Bible, book by book. Verse by verse. Not skipping, or skimming (hopefully not) over texts. But that does a couple of things. It teaches us the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), including verses that may make us uncomfortable. Second, it stops the accusation that I only preach on money. When we come across money in the Bible, we deal with it. Up to this point, I do not think we have mentioned anything about money yet.
Tithing is not found in the New Testament. Giving is. Tithing is an old testament teaching. Why? Remember, the Levites were not given any inheritance because the Lord was their inheritance (Numbers 18:20-21). Therefore, the tithe was their inheritance. This was to support the tribe of Levi for the work in the temple. This shows the lambs, goats, offerings, money, was to help support them. The tithes was 10%. That is what tithe means.
Offerings was above and beyond the 10%. Some may give more than the regular tithe. This was vital in the Old Testament. How much so? Malachi 3:8. The people robbed God by not bringing in the tithe. Knowing what the tithe was for, it would be foolish to then try and claim this verse today by prosperity gospel preachers. The New Testament is different.
When we get to the New Testament, the idea of tithe is not there. Instead, all are to give what was purposed, and with a joyful heart. God is interested in the heart, not the amount. We looked at this verse in passing, but look again at 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. I know everyone here knows a little Biblical Greek. And I will prove this.
Read the text above and look at the word ‘cheerful’. That word comes from the Greek word ἱλαρός which is translated like this: hilaros (hill-air-os). The english word we get from this is…..? Hilarious. See, you do know Greek! It is about the heart, and if we are giving correctly, we will have joy in doing so. This is why we should not be forced or coerced into giving. That is not what God wants or how He operates.
So how should we give? I will say this, and this is me, if you feel led to give the 10%, then please do so. Follow the leading the Lord, and if He tells you to give more, obey that call. If you wish to pray each week and ask God what to give? I encourage that as well. Be faithful to what God lays on your heart to give. It is not wise to be pressured by man, but to be led by God. But in everything, be faithful.
Some may be wondering if they can skip tithing. Yes. But, then we are ignoring Proverbs 3:9-10. God has given us so much. He is the one who provided everything we have. Our giving is not based on a set of legalistic rules, but instead it comes from a heart of gratitude to God who has given. He owns it all, and part of being honoring to Him is to give to His work. This also speaks of our being faithful stewards of His provisions to us. Then the peace and provision of God will truly fill our needs, and He will get the glory that is due His name.
I wish to leave one final note. One of the ministries I appreciate that deal with money is Crown Financial. If you wish to learn more about the Bible, money, and finances, they are my go to. I would encourage you to check them out because they will delve much deeper into this topic than I have here.