All of us at some point have been in a place with our finances when there were more bills on the table then what we had in our bank accounts. The bills that we have are not from a point because we have made bad financial decisions. The bill statements that we receive in the mail from companies that we owe are not because we acted irresponsibly by living beyond our means. Our financial challenges may not be from because we mismanaged our money spending it on things that gave temporary pleasure for the moment. However, the weekly, biweekly or monthly expenses that we have to pay all come from our regular household budget. Each day we turn on the news and learn that the items that we paid for yesterday will increase in price because of the increase in the cost of living. The price for food, gas, and clothes for our children all increase while our paychecks stay the same.
Now despite all of these financial challenges that we go through in our lives, as believers we must learn to put God first in our finances. We must trust Him in our giving which will help us to understand that the Lord is our provider. The Lord knows what we have need of before we make our request to ask Him to provide it for us. Now there are three ways that we must learn to trust the Lord in our giving. The first way that we learn to put God first in our giving through paying our tithes and offering into His kingdom. The second way that we learn to put God first in our giving is to give to Him with the right attitude. Finally, the third way we are to put God first in our giving is to trust Him with the ninety percent that we have left to use in our lives.
Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine (Proverbs 3:9-10).
Our tithes and offering
The first way that we learn to put God first in our giving through paying our tithes and offering into His kingdom. According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, the word tithe means “a tenth part”.The tenth part was the portion that God’s people offered to the Lord out of obedience to His word. God’s people who were in covenant relationship gave their tithes either through the possessions they had, the spoils that they obtained through war, or tithing from the increase of their seed. The Lord would also, used the tithe as a source of provision for those who did not have the resources to be able to provide for themselves. Some of these individuals were the Levites, the priests, widows, and the strangers (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). The people of the Old Testament, not only gave their tithes unto the Lord but they also gave offering unto the Lord as instructed them in His word. The offering that the Children of Israel gave most times was from a willing heart and the best that they had to give to the Lord.
In today’s Western civilization and culture that we live in, we do not give tithes from the fruit of the land or the spoils of war. However, we are instructed by the word of God to bring our tithes and offering into the Lord’s House from the income we earned from our jobs. The word of God says in Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”. Through us giving our tenth part that comes from our income that the Lord promises to bless our finances, our household, and our health. Our tenth part can come from the income that is from our paycheck, unemployment, or retirement income, we still must be willing to put God first with all our hearts to walk in His covenant blessings for our lives. He has promised to rebuke the devourer which is the devil and not allow him to destroy the fruit of our ground (Malachi 3:11).
Giving with the right attitude
The second way that we learn to put God first in our giving is to give to Him with the right attitude. To give someone a gift with the wrong attitude, heart or spirit is an offering I believe no one would ever want. If the person learns that the gift that was not giving out of love but from some other selfish motives it can cause that person to not want to accept it. A person giving with the wrong attitude may give so that they can win the favor of the person hoping to get something in return from them. Another way a person may give with the wrong attitude is them seeing giving is something they have to out of religious tradition and not from a heart of faith and obedience. Finally, a person in the church may give because they view giving as a burden and hardship. They may choose to give because they believe it is the right thing for them to do, however, because their finances are in a jam, they don’t give with joy but with heartache.
Sadly in the House of the Lord, too many us in the church give to the Lord with the wrong attitude. We give to the Lord not because the word of God teaches us to Him first in our finances but we give because we are losing for Him to give stuff back in return. We give with the wrong attitude because we were taught by man tradition by trying to by ourselves a blessing by being on a twenty, fifty, or one hundred dollar bill line. We give to the Lord with the wrong attitude who has been good to us and then we get an attitude with others because we see them blessed. However, this is not the way we are to give to the Lord, we are to give to the Lord what is right and not what we have left. The word of God says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver”. To put God first in our finances means having a godly attitude which is demonstrated through our faith, obedience, and love for God our Father.
The ninety percent
Finally, the third way we are to put God first in our giving is to trust Him with the ninety percent that we have left to use in our lives. Now the word trust according to dictionary.com means “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, of a person or thing”. The word trust also can mean “confident expectation of something or hope”. Once we have given our tithes and offering at some point the enemy will attempt to bring doubt that what we have left is not enough to cover our household expenses. However, our trust, our confidence, and our reliance should be in the Lord and His integrity of the Lord. When dark times come we have to know that our tithe belongs to the Lord. The ninety percent also came from the Lord who provided us the job, the career, or the source income for us to have. It will look to Him for guidance, He will show us how to budget the ninety that we have so that all of our needs are met according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
The ninety percent that we have in our hands today is also an opportunity for us to show the Lord that we can be faithful with the little that we have now. If we learn to be faithful with the little that we have, the Lord in His timing will bring increase to our finances. The word of God says in Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much”. However, if we struggle or fail to be faithful with the ninety percent that we have, the Lord will not bless us with more. Our failure in being a good steward of what the Lord has placed in our hands will show us the opportunity for growth that we need to get better in our lives. The word of God says in 1 Corinthians 4:2 that “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful”. To put the Lord first in your life and your finances mean demonstrating to ourselves and our families that we can be faithful stewards with the ninety percent in our hands.