How many of God’s blessings do we miss because we do not worship God? How many heavenly resources are left on the shelf because we are unwillingly to believe God’s promises? How many of God’s riches go unused because we refuse to trust God? How impoverished are we because we won’t put God first in our lives?
I wrestled with these questions this week as I prepared to preach on the subject of finances, “Worship God with your Treasure.” It was impressed on my heart several times that there is a sequence to receiving God’s blessings. We give first to God, then he blesses us. Far too often we have it backwards. We think, when God blesses me, then I’ll give. But God says, give first, and then see what I will do.
We find that instruction in Proverbs 3:9-10. We are to give the firstfruits to God. Far too often, we give God our leftovers. When we give, he promises we will then have plenty.
In difficult economic times, the first thing to go from our budget is charitable giving. We move our daily needs and lifestyle choices farther up our priority list and giving to God farther down. When we do that, Malachi 3:8-10 explains that we are robbing God of the honor that is due him. Rather than be thieves, we are to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse. When we do, we will be amazed at what God does and how he provides. In fact, he throws down the gauntlet and challenges us to test his word. Once again, we are to give first, and then receive blessings second.
This sequence is repeated again in the New Testament, this time in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. As the chart illustrates, this is the cycle of grace giving. We give first to God (6-7). God then makes his grace abound to us so that we have enough (8a). This in turn allows us to give more to God (8b). Which then causes God to bless us even more (10-11). As a result, the needs of others are met (12a) and God is praised and glorified (12b-15).
This requires a huge step of faith. Our fear is that if we give to God, we won’t have enough to pay our bills or enjoy our normal lifestyle. But what might God do if we take him at his word and give him first place in our checkbook? Might he cause us to be healthier so that we spend less on doctors and prescriptions? Could he cause our car to get better gas mileage or our tires to last longer? Might God help us find better deals on groceries or move our neighbor to offer free baby sitting? What might God do to meet our needs if we chose to honor him and put him first?
How many of God’s blessings will we receive if we choose to put God first? Let’s put him to the test and find out.