Honor the LORD with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9-10)
Wealth is for worship.
The word translated ‘honor’ in Proverbs 3:9 has to do with weight. To honor someone in this sense means to give them the proper weight or respect.
Specifically, this proverb encourages us to honor ‘the LORD.’ When you see LORD in capital letters its the English translation for Yahweh. This name for God comes from a word meaning ‘to be.’
When Moses asked God through the burning bush what to call him, he identified himself as “I Am” (Exodus 3). This is the essential fact about God: He is. Before the creation of the universe, he is. When Jesus walked the earth, he is. When you were born, he is. When you will die, he is. When Jesus returns in glory, he is. He is apart from the timeline of this world in a way we cannot completely understand.
God is, and we are to honor him with our wealth. God’s existence is the most important factor when you open your wallet, pay your bills, create your budget or go shopping. Honoring the LORD with our wealth means earning, using and holding wealth in such a way as to show the world that he is the most important factor in reality.
Before we think about how to do this in practical terms, let’s clarify what is meant here by ‘wealth.’ More literally the language refers to a person’s ‘substance.’ It’s the sum total of their assets. Back then it would have meant cattle, crops and land. Now it means income, possessions, savings, 401k’s, etc. This is our substance. We are meant to use our substance to show that the LORD is the most substantial matter in our lives. We’re not to worship wealth; we’re to worship with wealth.
Honoring the LORD as you use wealth.
We’ll talk more about honoring the LORD as we earn wealth when we study wisdom and work later in the sermon series. But this passage focuses on honoring the LORD as we use and hold wealth.
One way to honor him in our use of wealth is by giving him priority.
…and with the firstfruits of all your produce… (Proverbs 3:9b)
This idea of firstfruits has to do with the temple practices and bringing your first and best to offer and sacrifice. We don’t need the temple anymore, but the principle remains: we are to offer God the first and best of our wealth in worship.
This means asking up front, “How is God calling me to worship him with my wealth?” before we make any other decisions regarding our money and possessions. It means budgeting around this as the great immovable line-item: GOD’S GLORY. It’s the opposite of using money for every other priority and then considering how to honor him with what’s left.
Honoring the LORD as you hold wealth.
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:10)
Before getting into this verse you need to know that Proverbs is a book filled with principles about how the world works and how God means for us to live in it. It is not a book of promises. So this verse does not teach the prosperity gospel that if you do your part God will pay you big dividends of health and wealth. Rather it teaches that, generally, when you are faithful with the wealth you have, you’ll gain more.
A wise person is productive and therefore earns money. He saves it rather than consumes it (Proverbs 21:20) for the purpose of investing it in heavenly endeavors. Some heavenly investments are so expensive that they require storing wealth up in modern day barns and vats (savings accounts, investments, etc.).
Wouldn’t you love to be able to travel the world proclaiming the gospel? Wouldn’t you love to adopt orphans? Wouldn’t you love to start that ministry that you keep thinking about? Wouldn’t you love to fund that missionary? All these things require wealth.
Wealth is for worship. When you worship well with your wealth, generally you’ll find that you grow more wealthy so that you can use even more wealth for worship.
1. Read Proverbs 3:9-10. What does it mean to “honor the LORD?” What other scriptures come to mind that might help us understand this?
2. What does it mean practically to “honor the LORD with our wealth?” Share ideas.
3. Who have you known who was a good example of honoring the LORD with their wealth?
4. What is the modern day equivalent of “firstfruits of all your produce?”
5. What is the modern day equivalent of “barns” and “vats?”
6. Is verse 5 a promise? What other scriptures can help you understand this one?