• P. Frank

Money Woes to Whoas

There are lots of expenses in life: mortgage/rent, food, health bills, prescriptions, phone bills, fuel, utility bills, gifts, entertainment, etcetera. That list is long and filled with not just our needs, but many of our wants too. Big and small, those expenses add up fast and if you live beyond your means, your debt will add up even faster. The longer those debts stick around, the bigger they grow. The stress and anxiety that accompanies the debt will grow with it, eventually turning into fear that you can no longer make ends meet. Amplify that fear ten-fold if you have children at home. Those kinds of money woes are one of the leading causes of relationship problems and for many couples even lead to divorce. It’s truly a snowball effect: living with debt will lead to greater debt, which will in turn lead to greater money woes.

So how do you go from money woes to money whoas? No matter how hard it is to accomplish, it is a rather simple strategy. Step one, give to God a generous portion of your first-fruits. Step two, if you’re in debt, don’t add to it and pay it off as quickly as possible. If you’re not in debt, good! Stay out of debt. “Let no debt remain outstanding.” (Romans 13:8a). Step three, live within your means. Step four, save, invest, and generously give even more. If you want a detailed strategy on this, read Dave Ramsey’s book, “Total Money Makeover.” Dave’s mission in life is to help everyday people learn how to get and stay out of debt, build wealth, and generously give like no one else.

What does it mean to give God our first-fruits? We are to give Him portions of our time, our talents, and our treasure; not one of those, ALL of them. We are supposed to sacrificially give to Him the best of ourselves, not the leftovers. Take the story of Cain and his younger brother Abel. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor.” (Genesis 4:3–5a). Why did God favor Abel over Cain? Because Abel had faith that God would still provide for him, even after giving up his best and first of his livestock.

First-fruit giving shows faith and trust in God. If you give to God before you pay your mortgage or rent, before buying groceries, and before paying your bills, then you are putting God first and trusting that He will provide what you need. If you give to God after all of those expenses, then God only gets the leftovers. If you give God the leftovers after you have also bought that new TV, or a new phone, or those new clothes you didn’t really need, then God will get far less if anything at all. That is not showing faith and trust in God. That is living selfishly with a “me-first” attitude instead of a “God-first” attitude.

As far as our treasure goes, how much of it are we supposed to give to God? There are no specified amounts in the Bible; however, in the Old Testament, the Israelites were called to give ten percent of their first-fruits to the Levites (the priests) so they could fully devote themselves to serving God and not have to also work other jobs. That model is used by many Christians today as the amount to give to church, especially in churches that have full-time ministers. But God doesn’t just want us to show up for church on Sunday morning, drop some money in the offering plate, and then go home until the next week. He wants our ideas, He wants our expertise and experience, He wants our dedication of time, and He wants us to willingly give a generous portion of our first-fruits; time, talent, and treasure.

God wants everything from us because He wants us to have faith and trust in Him. Consider the story of the widow’s offering. “Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1–4). The widow literally gave everything she had to God. It takes a whole lot of faith in God to give away everything and trust that He will provide for all your needs.

Consider the young man who kept all of God’s commandments but still wondered what else he could do. Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.’” (Matthew 19:21). An interestingly marvelous thing happens when you fully trust in the Lord and generously give back to Him the first-fruits of your time, talents, and treasures: He provides you with more abundance than you started with. “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).

On Palm Sunday, Jesus told His disciples, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as He had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owner asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’” (Luke 19:30–34). Consider the faithfulness of the owner of the colt. The only thing he needed to hear was, “The Lord needs it.” Then he gave the colt willingly and immediately to these complete strangers. That colt was the owner’s sacrificial first-fruit giving to God. He didn’t know if he would get the colt back or not, but he trusted that God would provide for him either way.

The Lord wants our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole soul. He doesn’t want us to divide our attention between Him and the material things of this world. Consider this Scripture: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:19–21, 24). Matthew was an expert in this Scripture that he wrote. He was a thieving tax collector before Jesus called Him to be one of His disciples. Matthew knew all about the love and worship of money. But later, he also knew all about the love and faithfulness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Lord will always provide for you, so long as you remain faithful to Him. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25–34).

Want to go from money woes to money whoas? Then faithfully give God the first-fruits of your time, the first-fruits of your talents, and the first-fruits of your treasure. Once you’ve put God first in your life, you will see His overabundance of blessings completely overfill you. To God be all the glory, forever!