So, let’s continue our series on “Wisdom - The Principal Thing.” Today is part eight in this series, and I hope that you have been growing in this area because, as we have learned, wisdom is described by the Bible as the “first, top and best” virtue that we could ever possess. But it is our responsibility to get it. It is not going to just fall on us like an apple out of a tree. No, we are told in the Word of God to “get” it. Therefore, we cannot say, “Well, God just sovereignly decided to endow that person with wisdom and that is just not my gift.” No, any one of us can apprehend as much of the wisdom of God that we want. So, let’s get it!
Let’s first of all read the Book of Proverbs on our own, personal time and spend some of our prayer time inquiring of the Lord for His wisdom. Then, let’s be open to the instruction that the Lord is giving us here on Sunday mornings and do more than just listen to the sermon and not give it any more consideration. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them so that your progress in wisdom is evident to all (1 Timothy 4:15)!
Well, most recently, we have been getting into more of the practical areas of wisdom, talking about wisdom for holiness, wisdom in the Word of God, wisdom is our words, and last week, we talked about wisdom for the body:
We began by looking at both Romans 12:1 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, learning that our bodies are considered to be living sacrifices and the temples of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, what we do in our bodies and with our bodies is important to God. We saw that we are all called to glorify God in our bodies, which obviously is first loving God and then loving others with all of our strength. But we can also glorify God in these temples by having them adorned properly. So, we looked at some ways to do this:
One very general way that we talked about doing this is by simply asking the Lord - “How can I better glorify you through this, Your temple?” And then we listen to what He might tell us. For some of us, He might say, “Set your alarm a little earlier and get up and spend some time with Me.” To others, He might say, “Stop drinking as much coffee.” Still others, He might encourage to start back going to the gym and exercising. There are various things He might tell us if we simply ask Him, but the main point I left you with last week was to just ask. Learn to live a Spirit-led life, not just in the spiritual things, but even in the natural things. This way the Holy Spirit is calling the shots with what we do with these temples.
But what we spent most of last week’s message emphasizing is what He has already told us in His Word. In other words, we looked at the Holy Scriptures and gleaned from the wisdom that God has already given us.
The first thing we learned is that the condition of our outward man reflects the condition of the inward man. What I meant by this is that a healthy life internally tends towards a healthy life externally.
We looked at 3 John 2 and saw that our physical health is oftentimes determined by how healthy we are on the inside. We looked at Proverbs 14:30 and saw that just as a healthy physical heart produces life to the body, likewise a healthy spiritual heart will produce health in the body. We saw that things like envy, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc. are rottenness to the bones, but not because God is punishing us - rather because it is just a spiritual law that out of the heart flow the issues of life. In other words, when we are not taking care of our heart, it will produce death in our lives.
We looked at a couple of other proverbs and saw that a broken spirit produces death in our bodies. However, having a strong, fighting spirit can actually sustain our lives (Proverbs 18:14). Even having a happy heart can produce health in our bodies like medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength, but if the enemy can get us sick on the inside, he will have no problem destroying our temples.
So, we learned some of the ways that the Bible teaches us to keep our spirits strong and healthy: We looked at 1 Timothy 4:6-8 and saw that just as eating healthy and exercising regularly yields life to our mortal bodies, being nourished by God’s Word and being a doer of it produces life both on the inside and on the outside.
We saw that God’s Word works like medicine in our bodies, producing life to all of our flesh (see Proverbs 4:20-23). But just like it is in the world today, it isn’t our Heavenly Father’s fault if we don’t take the medicine He has provided us with in the prescribed way He told us to, right? He has already told us what to do and now it is our responsibility to do what our good and great Physician has prescribed for us. Therefore, God’s Word works both like eating good, healthy food and also like taking potent, beneficial medicine.
But we ended last week talking about the importance of “exercising” the Word that we are partaking of. This too is extremely important. And we saw how the Book of Wisdom describes the effect it has on our physical health.
We saw how the fear of the Lord and departing from evil is mentioned as a catalyst for living healthy (see Proverbs 3:7-8 & 10:27): We have seen that the fear of the Lord is simply us respecting and reverencing Him, His people and His things which results in us departing from evil. Again, if we honor the Lord, we will not yield to the things that He says are wrong. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is essentially us honoring the things He has said and applying them to our lives. No, not when we feel like it either; this is how we live our life because of our respect for Him. So, it’s a lot like exercise. Our flesh might not want to do it, but hey, does our flesh like to exercise either? Usually not.
And finally, we saw that one of the other ways in which we “exercise” the Word that we are feeding on is by speaking it (see Proverbs 12:18)! And make no mistake about it - this is one of the primary ways that we walk in the health God has for us to walk in. So, as we learn to speak what God says, declaring out of our mouth God’s medicine, it will both promote and bring healing in our bodies! Amen!
So, we saw that God certainly wants us to live long and healthy lives. I am a firm believer that if we cooperate with both the natural laws of physically eating right and exercising as we are led by the Spirit of God and also eat right and exercise in these spiritual ways, then we will walk in the physical health that God says is ours and accomplish glorifying God in our temples in another way. This is wisdom for our bodies. Amen.
So, this week, I want us to look at wisdom in our finances: Now this topic of how we handle our money has many great examples of wisdom contained in it. So, let’s look into this subject and find out what God’s Book of Wisdom has to say about this area of our lives:
THE BLESSING OF THE LORD
Let’s begin in Proverbs 10:22: Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.”
This is an area that the church as a whole needs to have some mind-renewal on. You see, many in the church today believe that poverty is a blessing, but that is simply not true. In the Bible (which is what we are to base our beliefs on), poverty is described as a curse, not a blessing. We see this in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, where the curse of disobeying God’s commandments and not obeying His voice is vividly described.
In fact, as this verse says, God’s blessing on Abraham and His descendants always produced financial prosperity. That’s right - you can look at biblical accounts of those who walked with God and are, today, heroes of the faith, and they were multi-millionaires. Go study the lives of Abraham, David, Solomon, etc. and you will find that these guys were super wealthy but, most importantly, for the majority of their lives, they were super godly too. So, for us to think that prosperity is evil in and of itself is just simply untrue. Money is a tool, saints! It is as simple as that! It is only the misuse of it that is evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Amen!
No, it’s the decisions that one makes in whatever financial and material state they are in that yields godliness. This is what the Apostle Paul describes in Philippians 4:11 as learning contentment. But contentment does not mean that we are ok with whatever our state is in regard to not wanting to prosper. Contentment simply describes being independent of circumstances to where we have learned to walk in peace and joy in both the barren times and the prosperous times. So, no, just being poor does not make us more spiritual and having an abundance does not automatically cripple our walk with God.
But the fact is that God wants us blessed in every area of our life, which also includes our finances. But here is the great part: Not only does God’s blessing make one rich, but He also adds no sorrow with it!
The Hebrew word used for “sorrow” here describes “pain, hurt, toil, labor and hardship.” The NIV says, “without painful toil for it.” The CSB says, “and He adds no painful effort to it.” So, in essence, God’s blessing will make a man or woman rich, minus all of the hardships, toils and labor. Glory to God!
You know, there are many people on the planet that have “stuff” but also have “sorrows.” In other words, they lack peace, joy, happiness, contentment, etc. They work tirelessly for their money and do not ever enjoy the fruit of their labor. This is not wise.
In fact, in Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 Solomon said, “Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.”
He said in Proverbs 23:4-5 - “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” In other words, it is unwise to spend all of our days trying to simply accumulate more wealth because the day will come when all of our natural resources will cease – some simply through this ever-changing world and the rest through death.
But this is what God’s blessing will do for us: It will cause us to see even our businesses, finances, etc. blessed! The Lord will bring the increase. No, not just that we can drive bigger cars, live in bigger homes, etc.; but so that we can have more resources to be a blessing to others and establish His covenant here on the earth (see Genesis 12:2 & Deuteronomy 8:18). Amen!
But this needs to be said here: Possessing great wealth does not make one truly prosperous. Like we said last week, true prosperity starts on the inside. It begins with having a heart that is full, that loves God and is abounding in the fruits of righteousness. That is true prosperity, church!
Let’s look at a few verses from Proverbs that reiterates this truth:
However, this blessing of the Lord is not just an automatic thing or else we would all be blessed in our finances. The fact is, many born-again, Spirit-filled Christians struggle in the financial arena. And the reason for this is they have not learned how to cooperate with both God’s spiritual laws that govern prosperity and the natural laws that work together with it.
Like we made the point of last week – there is a natural side to walking in divine health. Of course, the spiritual things are the most important, but that does not mean that nutrition and exercise don’t play a part in being physically prosperous. Likewise, there is both a spiritual side and a natural side to seeing God’s blessing on our finances.
So, let’s look at these principles that govern us receiving God’s best in our finances from the Book of Proverbs. We will do so by first looking at the spiritual side:
Now I would assume that all of us are educated on the importance of putting the Lord first in our finances, and one of the primary ways in which we do this is through giving to the Lord tithes, offerings, etc. But what I want to emphasize to you today is not what we give, but how we give it.
You see, the Bible gives us a lot of wisdom regarding the heart behind our financial giving. It stresses to us the importance of giving willingly, with the purpose and intent on being a blessing, as an act of worship, etc. Therefore, it is not just about plunking some dollars in the offering; our heart motivation is key. Let’s look at a couple of Scriptures from the Book of Proverbs that address this:
Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “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.”
Now that’s a pretty awesome promise, isn’t it? Now our “barn” might be our bank accounts and our “vats” are synonymous with our businesses. So, how many of you would like to see your bank accounts filled with plenty and your businesses overflowing with new business, ideas, etc.? I’m sure we all would!
Well, these verses teach us how to do this, and it is not through just simple giving. Verse 9 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” The key word in this verse is found in the word “honor.” In other words, we are to value, esteem, and respect Him, first, with our possessions. That means that when we give something to Him, we don’t do it half-heartedly. We give our highest and our best to Him. Just as the Lord had to correct the children of Israel - don’t give sacrifices that are not really sacrifices. Why? Because that is dishonorable! A verse that speaks to this is 2 Chronicles 16:9, which says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
One of my favorite examples of honorable giving is in the story of Cain and Abel: We all know the story of how God respected Abel’s offering and did not respect Cain’s offering and much debate has been made as to why. Well, I believe that Hebrews 11:4 tells us the reason why: it was because Abel gave his offering in faith. Genesis 4:4 says that Abel gave the firstborn of his flock (i.e. the first and, therefore, the best) and of their fat (i.e. their richest parts), but Genesis 4:3 said that Cain “in the process of time” gave of the fruit of the ground. The phrase “in the process of time” literally meant “at the end of days.” So, I believe the problem with Cain’s sacrifice was that it was not a sacrifice at all. He came to sacrifice to God when it was convenient for him. I believe he offered to God what he had left over and what he could spare, unlike Abel who gave the first and the best. You could put it this way: Abel gave sacrificially and honorably, while Cain gave conveniently and dishonorably. This was the big difference between Cain’s offering and Abel’s offering.
But Solomon didn’t just say to honor the Lord with our possessions; he also said to honor Him with the first-fruits of all our increase:
This giving of “first-fruits” is generally used interchangeably with the tithe, but this could not be totally true because there was a distinction made between them under the Old Covenant. You see, the tithe is just “the tenth” of all our increase wherein the first-fruits is the giving of the first harvest totally. When you tithe you are giving ten percent of every bit of increase that you get - whether that be the first, second, third or last harvest - but with your first fruits, you are giving the first lump sum of increase that you have.
Let me explain: A good example of what the Bible means by “first-fruits” would be say for instance I was unemployed and then God gave me an awesome job. Well, in our day and time, since most of us are not farmers, the salary that I receive from that job would be my increase from the Lord. So, the “first-fruit” of my increase would be my first paycheck, right? So how could I honor the Lord through the principle of first fruits? It would be by me giving my first whole paycheck to the Lord. Tithing would just be giving of ten percent of that paycheck.
You see, tithing and first-fruits are similar but they are not the same: First-fruits can almost be best described as “the annual tithe.” It is first of the year, month, season, etc. as opposed to the first 10% of every single increase.
Let me give you another couple of examples of first fruits: Say I had asked the Lord to help me eliminate any and all debt in my life, and then a brother or sister in Christ approached me and said that the Lord told them to give me $500 a month until I paid off all my debts. My “first fruit” of that would be the initial gift of $500. Say that I was believing the Lord for the money to buy a new car and someone sent me a check out of the blue for $250. What would my “first-fruit” be of what I was believing the Lord for? Of course, it would have been the first harvest of $250. Do you understand what I mean by first-fruits? It is simply defined as the first, and consequently, the best harvest!
The Bible has much to say about the giving of first-fruits. It was instituted in the law as a commandment but, just as we said about the tithe, it is not a commandment anymore. It is now a principle that we should willingly abide by in order to honor the Lord. And do not allow your heart to condemn you through this either. This is, again, not anything that we have to do now. It is simply a principle of giving that honors the Lord and releases even a greater harvest in our lives.
So why do you think that God has given us the principle of giving our first-fruits? It is because God wants us to recognize where the harvests come from. He wants us to be thankful for what He has given us and for us to show Him that our hope and trust is fully in Him. You see, this type of giving requires a lot of faith - especially when you need that initial harvest to meet your needs. But as the old saying goes - “You can’t out-give God!” He will make sure you have all the grace you need when you put that kind of faith in Him.
Now Proverbs 11:24-26 says this - “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”
Isn’t this interesting? Verse 24 indicates that there is one who scatters and see increase in their lives, but then there is another who withholds more than is right, and it leads to poverty. In other words, just because one sows does not automatically mean they will reap. Sure, some do, but this verse says that there are others who withhold more than is right. Now that doesn’t mean that they didn’t give at all; what it indicates however is that they didn’t do the right thing in their giving. So, what is right? It is to give honorably, and as verse 25 goes on to say, to be “generous.”
Generosity is the key, saints! That is why 2 Corinthians 9:6 encourages us to sow “bountifully” (i.e. with the purpose of being a blessing) as opposed to “sparingly” (i.e. stingily).
LENDING TO THE LORD
So how do we honor the Lord with our giving? One of the best ways that the Book of Proverbs says that we can give to the Lord is by giving to the poor:
Proverbs 14:31 teaches us this when it says, “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” So, we see in this verse that one who honors the Lord will have mercy on the needy.
Some question this, saying, how is giving to the poor giving to the Lord? Well, didn’t Jesus say that whatever you have done to the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:40-45)? Therefore, we don’t just give to the Lord by giving to the church or to other ministries; we also give to the Lord by giving to the needy. In fact, we are told in Proverbs 19:17 that, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.” So, again, we see the way the Lord takes personally how we treat the poor.
Therefore, it is unwise to forget the poor, but rather, they should be our focus. Proverbs 22:9 says, “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.” A “generous eye” describes someone who is focused on being generous. Their whole mindset is - “how can I bless someone today that needs it?” In this proverb, Solomon says that this person will be blessed.
So many think that if they give alms like this that they are losing their money, but we need to renew our minds to this truth: If we give to those in need then God will not allow us to run out! Proverbs 28:27 says, “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” It is just this simple! If we give to the poor there is no way we will lack! But, on the other hand, this proverb says that if we hide our eyes (i.e. “are not focused on being a blessing to those in need”) we will have many curses. One of those negative consequences is this: Proverbs 21:13 says, “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”
So not having this generous eye has consequences that we do not want. God is very serious about this! He has compassion on those who are in need and He uses His body to meet those needs. We need to get our focus off ourselves and onto those that have it worse than us. This will not only cause our needs to be met, but it will also create in our hearts joy unspeakable and full of glory!
Now if all there was to prospering financially was giving, then many of us in here would be millionaires by now. But the fact is - we live in this world and there are rules to prospering in this world too. So, let’s now look at some of the natural principles of wisdom that will help us in our finances.
DILIGENCE VERSUS LAZINESS
Now this first one might be too simple for some of you, but I guarantee you that it is extremely important in the whole grand scheme of things. The reason I believe this is mainly due to the fact that there is so much in the Book of Wisdom about the importance of hard work. In studying Proverbs, you will find many Scriptures that talk about the fruit of laziness.
In fact, you will find one word that Solomon uses as the antonym for laziness: it is diligence. Let’s look at a few of these Scriptures that differentiate between being diligent and being lazy:
So, evidently “diligence” is a vital key to seeing success in the financial arena. So, what is it? A dear friend of mine once had the Lord give him His definition of “diligence.” The Holy Spirit said, “Diligence is an energetic drive to achieve by action what you believe.” Did you hear that? It all spawns from faith. What do we really believe in? And, therefore, what are energetically pursuing as a result of what we believe. Say, if I truly believe that exercise is important, I will, in fact, exercise. In other words, it will produce action, diligent corresponding actions. Amen?
And this works in all aspects of life. I once had the Lord show me why some experience God’s blessings more than others:
It was very early in my Christian walk and I was noticing how I was experiencing much more of God’s promises in my life than others that had been in this walk longer than I. So, this propelled me to ask Him why. I had learned that God was no respecter of persons, so what He would do for one, He would do for another. But as I made that point to Him, He said to me, “I am not a respecter of persons, but I am a respecter of faith and diligence.”
It took me years to realize why He had used those two specific virtues, but I saw that they described Hebrews 11:6 to a “T” which says, “But without faith it is impossible to please God for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
You see, God is seeking a people who believe Him and will seek Him diligently with their whole heart. This kind of heart is what positions one into the place of reward after reward.
So, my point is that it works that way spiritually, but it works this way in other things as well – for when we truly believe in something, our heart is inclined towards it, and we are diligent in our pursuance of it, we will be blessed in it.
I have noticed how the people whose hearts are inclined towards finances like this are generally the ones who do well financially. It is because they truly respect it, and there is a spiritual law that we will attract what we respect. But the opposite is true as well: what we disrespect, devalue and are not diligent concerning, we will repel.
It works this way in our vocation as well: If we are not diligent in doing our work as unto the Lord, our laziness can stunt the favor, promotions, etc. that God has promised us. How do I know this, you ask? Because I used to do it! For years in the secular world, I just showed up, did an adequate job and stayed exactly in the position that I was at. Then, through a chain of circumstances, I was put into the position where I needed to start “busting my tail” to prove that I was a worthy hire for a local bank here in Macon. Well, guess what this did? It created promotion in my life! I was promoted twice in 6 months without ever having to apply for the positions I was promoted to.
Then the Lord showed me that when he told Israel that He would “bless the work of their hands” (see Deuteronomy 15:10 & 28:12) that this implied that their hands were actually being set to something and they were working heartily as unto the Lord. Amen! You see, if our hands are not being set to something and we are not working with the utmost integrity, God has nothing to bless. So, if our hands are not working, He has nothing to increase. A hundred times nothing is nothing! But a hundred times something is a lot. Just like it was with the miracle of the feeding of the thousands: Jesus had to break the bread with His hands before it multiplied. His Father blessed the work of His hands. Amen!
Here are some more proverbs on the subject of laziness with other translations:
MORE WISDOM FOR FINANCES
Now here is another practical area of prospering in our finances that likewise revolves around diligence: Proverbs 27:23-27 says, “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds; For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field; You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants.”
So, according to this proverb, we should be diligent to know what is going on in our finances - that is, knowing the state of our affairs. This is the first step in regards to learning to “handle” our finances; it is really “getting a handle” on our finances. And the only way to really do that is to write everything down. Therefore, when it comes to getting a handle on your finances, the key is in, first, writing down what you have coming in versus what you have going out and then disciplining yourself to make the adjustments you can clearly see you need to make to turn things around. Amen?
And one really important way of getting a handle on our finances is to, first, before we do anything else, start saving in order to have a reserve for those rainy days when unexpected expenses come up. Having a savings account is crucial for one to get out of the financial mess they are in because:
No, the Bible actually backs saving: Proverbs 21:20 says, "There is desirable treasure. And oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man squanders it." The NIV says, “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” The CEV says, “Be sensible and store up precious treasures--don't waste them like a fool.” So, wisdom is saying to us here that it is foolish to use up all of our income. Rather, we need to learn to set aside some of it if at all possible in order to save for a rainy day. Why? Because as Proverbs 22:3 says- "A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself: but the simple pass on and are punished." For example, a wise person recognizes that they are going to have some major, unexpected expenses coming up, so they prepare ahead of time, saving the dollars for those “budget busters.” This is them “hiding” themselves from the “evil” day.
Of course, some will hear this and say, “But I simply just don’t have any extra to save! I am living paycheck to paycheck!” This is when we need to evaluate our lifestyle and determine one of two things: How can we increase our income or how can we decrease our expenses. For example, we can increase our income by maybe humbling ourselves and start mowing lawns on Saturday. Pray about that and see if the Lord has another avenue of income for you. However, avoid the “get rich quick” scheme. Proverbs 20:21 says, “An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.” God is not in to get rich quick schemes. Beware of promises that involve this. The flesh loves these things because they don’t take time and they don’t involve diligence. God will rarely lead us this way. We can also get rid of some expenses that simply aren’t necessary like maybe your cable bill, that fancy cell phone, the extra vehicle, etc. This would be us decreasing the expenses in our life.
The point is that we learn to live on the margin: Proverbs 21:17 says, “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” The Good News Translation says, “Indulging in luxuries, wine, and rich food will never make you wealthy.” In other words, living a luxurious lifestyle does not tend towards prosperity.
Here is the lesson here: live within your means. Don’t overspend; rather use your money wisely. Learn contentment. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’. You are where you are. As I said, stay far away from just trying to break even.
Here is another good word of wisdom regarding finances: Stay away from debt at all costs!
You see, borrowing for a house or car is one thing but taking on financial obligations one can't keep - buying beyond the ability to pay - is another. The minute a person goes into debt, he loses a portion of his freedom. As Proverbs 22:7 says, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."
Far too many people think you can buy now and pay later. That isn't true. I have found that easy credit now makes people uneasy later. Proverbs 22:26-27 says, “Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, One of those who is surety for debts; If you have nothing with which to pay, Why should he take away your bed from under you?” It is proven that a person pays more for the use of borrowed money than he or she gets in interest for saving it. Therefore, debt is a foolish thing to get into.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE LORD IN ALL OUR FINANCES
So finally, a good word of wisdom regarding our finances is this: just ask! Ask the Lord what you are to do with the rest of your money that you have not purposed to give. You see, the truth is - everything we possess is God’s and we are simply just stewards over His things. Therefore, the answer to every question we have regarding our finances is simply “be led.” In other words, the answer to every question that arises like “what should I do with this?” or “what do I do here?” is - be led by the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
But I would venture to say that very few of us that even tithe and give offerings, actually ask the Lord what we should do with the rest of our income. And the God’s honest truth is - the reason why we do not ask Him things like “Lord, should I buy this TV?” or “Father, do I switch to this company for my telephone service?” is because we still view it as our money to do with it what we please. But even if we viewed it as ours, wisdom would still ask the One who knows all things what we should do with it, right?
You see, most Christians lean to their own understanding and intellect on every decision they make. This is why we get that important nugget of wisdom from one of the wealthiest men who ever lived on this planet taught us- King Solomon: He said in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Notice the first phrase in these verses - “Trust in the Lord.” Proverbs 11:28 says, “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.” So, we don’t want to trust in our riches, nor do we want to trust in our own understanding of what we do with our finances. What do we want to do? We want to trust in the Lord. And how do we do this? By acknowledging Him in all our ways! You see, one of the ways in which we trust in the Lord with all of our heart is by learning to acknowledge the Lord’s wisdom in every decision we make in our finances.
But this is not our tendency: We tend to not do what Solomon says in the second half of Proverbs 3:5- “and lean not to your own understanding.” The word “lean” denotes putting all your weight on something or relying on something else for support. You see, God gave us a brain to use but here, He is simply telling us not to put our total confidence in our own understanding. We are to use our head but we are to put our ultimate trust in His understanding and not our own.
When he says, “In all your ways” this denotes not in just what we consider the important “ways” but in all our ways. Regarding financial stewardship, this would be including the Lord in every financial decision we make.
By using the terminology “Acknowledge Him” we can see that the Holy Spirit desires to be acknowledged in every decision we make and every direction we take. The word “acknowledge” here was used in Genesis when Adam “knew” his wife Eve. So, this word describes a closeness and an intimacy. This is what the Spirit of God desires to have with us.
And, last but not least, we have the promise of when we trust in Him and acknowledge Him in all of our ways. It says, “And He shall direct your paths”- not He might direct your paths, but He shall direct our paths when we trust Him and acknowledge Him. The word “direct” means “to make smooth or straight.” You see, if we were led by the Spirit of God 100% of the time we would never get food poisoning, we would never make a bad investment, we would never get ripped off, etc. When we learn how to develop that close relationship with the Holy Spirit and are aware of Him in all of our ways, He will make our paths smooth and straight as opposed to hard and difficult.
So, my point is that all of these other practical guidelines I have given you throughout this series on wisdom are not something to legalistically observe. They are just general guidelines. What is important is that you inquire of the Lord with how you need to do it personally. And this both requires and promotes personal relationship with God and communion with the Holy Spirit - which is our primary purpose and calling. Amen!