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You get what you give

You get what you give

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3:9-10

Christians believe that all things are owned and given to us by God. By this very statement, we believe that life is a gift and all things that happen along the way must be appreciated good or bad. We may not like it or understand it, but it is what we are dealt.

Have you ever seen people who have done well or taken credit for all they have – the self-made person?  Often, it is associated with self-conceit and thinking we are so smart. Yes, there are intelligent people, caring people, game-changers, but what would they have done alone? With no help or others to guide them? How about a teacher to inflame them? To think of all the people we meet, the situations that randomly occur, the opportunities that fall in our way, and the means to get things done, to think these are not gifts would be the epitome of arrogance.

That is why we are commanded to share what we have been given. Honor others with your gifts and your wealth. Wealth is defined by Investopedia as,

“Wealth measures the value of all the assets of worth owned by a person, community, company, or country. Wealth is determined by taking the total market value of all physical and intangible assets owned, then subtracting all debts. Essentially, wealth is the accumulation of scarce resources. Specific people, organizations, and nations are said to be wealthy when they are able to accumulate many valuable resources or goods. Wealth can be contrasted to income in that wealth is a stock and income is a flow, and it can be seen in either absolute or relative terms.”

 

In other words, anything more than what we came into this world with and considering we came into it with nothing – it is wealth. This wealth encompasses not only tangible wealth but intellectual, emotional, and physical wealth. Brother Crosby of the Church of Greenville tells a story of a Christian businessman, “R.G. LeTourneau, grasped the concept of honoring God and giving – he gave 90% and kept 10% for himself, no matter his financial situation! He became one of America’s great industrialists. “The question,” he said, “is not how much of my money I give to God, but rather how much of God’s money I keep for myself.”"

The first time we see the idea of giving back to the Lord in Genesis 4:3-4, where Cain brought some of the fruits and Abel brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flocks. We will not get into why God was pleased with Abel’s offering and displeased with Cain’s gift, but it is the first recording of the practice. Later we see in Leviticus 23:10, where God demanded His people to bring an offering of their first fruits.

These offerings were not simply bringing the first fruits to the temple priest but rather a complex process and ritual. As Jesse Wisnewki writes, “The Israelites saw these first fruits as an investment into their future.” We see this not only in Jewish history but also with the Greeks and Romans.

Of course, no post of mine would be complete without looking at the meaning of the original words. The word for “and with the firstfruits” we have re’shith. The lexicon tells us it means:

Definition

  1. first, beginning, best, chief
    1. beginning
    2. first
    3. chief
    4. choice part

 

Interestingly, it is the same word found in Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning. God created and now we give back a small portion of what we received or increased. God gave us his best and we can only give our best back to Him.

Now, this may seem easy, but what if you do not have much? What if you are just scraping by? Well, we are reading the writings of Solomon who is arguably the wisest and the richest man who ever lived. The guy who drank from gold goblets. Later Jesus put it into perspective when he showed the example of the widow’s mite; she put her two pennies into the box and He told the disciples that she gave more out of her poverty than the wealthy did out of their riches.

But are we giving back out of greed to get more, or out of respect to God and it is His command!

One area that we have not explored is what is meant by wealth. In Solomon’s time, it mostly meant crops, flocks, and some had tangibles. But what are other things we are given? How about, life, experience, hopefully, some wisdom, education, knowledge, happiness, and of course our money. As Matt Broadway of Dulin’s Grove writes, “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. 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.”

We find in the Bible:

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Acts 3:6

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. – 2 Corinthians 8:12

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. – Hebrews 13:16

I like what Jenni Schoenberger writes, “I feel like the Bible teaches us some principles about giving. It says that we should be giving in both time and money. It says we should be generous and willing to give anything we can– if we don’t have money, we should serve. If we have two shirts, we should give one. The Bible talks more about whole-hearted giving, passionate, genuine giving, than it does many other topics, even in relation to money and giving.”

It all boils down to doing what you can, with what you have, all the time. Your rewards come in the form of knowing that you are doing something good, bringing joy to others and yourself, the satisfaction of knowing you are making a difference, and building treasure in heaven.

Chuck Groot is an author, speaker, teacher. His love of God has spanned over 6 decades and he finds the more he studies the Bible, the less he knows, the more he succeeds the more dependant on God he becomes, and that there is nothing outside of loving God our Father, and being loved in return.

 

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Bibliography

18 Scriptures On Giving You Can Share Before Your Next Offering Time. (2021, January 17). Retrieved from Reach Right: https://reachrightstudios.com/scriptures-on-giving/

Bond, S. (2011, April 2). Philanthropy in ancient times: some early examples from the Mediterranean. Retrieved from sofii: https://sofii.org/article/philanthropy-in-ancient-times-some-early-examples-from-the-mediterranean

Broadway, M. (2014, January 7). Proverbs 3:9-10 // How to Honor God with Your Wealth. Retrieved from Dulins Grove Church: http://dulinsgrovechurch.org/thebody/2014/01/07/wisdom-and-wealth-proverbs-39-10/

Crosby, B. (2020, 1 10). Proverbs 3:9. Retrieved from Let God Be True: https://letgodbetrue.com/proverbs/index/chapter-3/proverbs-3-9/

Crosby, B. (2021, Janaury 10). Proverbs 3:10. Retrieved from Let God Be True: https://letgodbetrue.com/proverbs/index/chapter-3/proverbs-3-10/

Investopedia. (2021, January 10). Wealth. Retrieved from Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/wealth.asp

Miller, C. (2019, November). re’shiyth, “beginning,” strong’s H7225. Retrieved from A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE: https://www.alittleperspective.com/reshiyth-beginning-strongs-h775/

Re'shiyth. (2021, January 10). Retrieved from Bible Study Tools: https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/nas/reshiyth.html

Schoenberger, J. (2015, January 28). 16 BIBLE VERSES ABOUT GIVING MONEY AND TIME. Retrieved from Mama Plus One: http://www.mamaplusone.com/16-bible-verses-giving-money-time/

What does Jesus want us to learn from what He said about the widow’s mite? (2021, January 17). Retrieved from Got Questions: https://www.gotquestions.org/widows-mite.html

Wisnewski, J. (2020, August 6). A Short Guide To Understand First Fruits Offerings. Retrieved from Get Tithe: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/first-fruit