Summary: What are we declaring when we give our weekly offering to God. Powerful insights are given by Solomon to his son. (A couple of families changed their giving practices as a result of this sermon)
OPEN: In 21ST Century Christian Magazine a mother told this story:
Our 3 year old daughter was in the habit of giving half of her 2 quarter allowance to God each week. One Sunday we were out of town, so the next Sunday, we gave her an extra quarter to teach her about “making up” our giving when we miss.
She said, “Oh, good, I’ll give one for God and one for Jesus.”
We thought that was cute and didn’t think more about it until the following Sunday. When it was back to the regular allowance and she had only one quarter for the contribution, she started crying. We asked her what was wrong and she said, “Where’s the quarter for Jesus?”
Needless to say, she got an immediate raise in her allowance! We are waiting to see what happens when she finds out about the Holy Spirit.
APPLY: That family was faithfully teaching their daughter a great truth: that giving was an act of worship.
And that was what Solomon was teaching his son.
Look at Proverbs 3:5-10 again:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
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.”
Notice the words Solomon uses:
· "in all your ways acknowledge him"(vs. 6)
· "Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops"(vs. 9)
· "Trust in the LORD" (vs. 5)
In other words, what Solomon was teaching his son that, in his worship, his financial gifts to God were the way he:
I. We’re going to start with this idea of “acknowledging God” in our giving
Did you notice the phrase “first fruits”?
What’s that mean? What does “first fruit” mean? (wait for response)
It means – that the FIRST of all your fruits are set aside for God.
It means – that should you plan what you’re going to give to God
ILLUS: Clara Null of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma told of living in a small town with one bank and three churches. Early one Monday morning, the bank called all three churches with the same request. “Could you bring in Sunday’s collection right away?” We’re out of one-dollar bills.”
Now, why could the bank be sure that there would be $1 bills in the offering? Because many people DON’T PLAN AHEAD in their giving… they give God what they have in their pockets at the time.
ILLUS: One wit observed: “One of the best tests of religion is to find yourself in church with nothing less than a 20 dollar bill in your wallet” (For Benefit of Clergy quoted in Readers’ Digest 5/89)
That sounds good, but in reality:
The best test of religion is not what you’d do if you found yourself in church with a $20 bill…
The best test of religion is one that shows you’ve acknowledged God’s ownership of your wallet
The best test of religion is when you’ve already cut the check for the offering plate when you got paid the week before.
ILLUS: When I explain to people what it means to become a Christian, I explain faith, repentance and baptism… but I spend a great deal of my time on the “confessing Jesus as Lord” out of Romans 10.
I explain that, in the day of Jesus, if one person called another their “Lord” they were acknowledging that that person “owned them.” They were slaves. The owner not only owned the slave’s services, they owned everything around the slave. The slave owned nothing. (Take out wallet) At this point, I take out my wallet and tell them that “confessing Jesus as Lord” means turning over to Jesus everything you own: everything in your wallet, your bank account, your deeds and titles of ownership – it’s all His now.
Giving your First Fruits means you are acknowledging God’s ownership of all you have.
It means you are NOT giving God your leftovers…
It means your gift to God is NOT an afterthought…
YOUR GIFT TO GOD is something you’ve planned
When you do that (when you give God your 1st fruits) you are beginning to learn the concept from Proverbs: “in all your ways acknowledge him” (vs. 6)
II. Secondly, in your giving of your first fruits to God… you’re honoring Him
ILLUS: Years ago, there was a movie called Shenandoah. The leading character, played by Jimmy Stewart opened the film with a prayer of thanksgiving for the meal. He calls the family in, makes the kids sit still, and prays,