9 Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
What are these verses saying? In literal terms, a person is instructed to give the best of his labor to the Lord. If he does, then the Lord will bless him. This could be fruit from a vineyard, crops of other sorts, and animals. This probably goes back to the Old Testament law, I’m guessing, but I’m not sure and I don’t have time to look that up for these morning writings.
In writing to Christians, I’m more interested in lessons we might learn from a metaphorical interpretation.
The Lord provides us with many blessings. We are blessed to have life. We are blessed if we have our basic needs met. We are blessed if we have family. We are blessed in countless small ways each day that we take for granted. We are also blessed to have faith in Jesus. Not all have faith. It is a gracious gift from God. We can also become blessed in Spirit through the gifts we receive.
Our blessings from God, especially those we receive through faith in Jesus, provide wealth that no man can take away from us. All our blessings are received by grace, which means we do not deserve them. It is reasonable, therefore, if we should give the best of everything we have to the Lord.
Jesus says, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
As we grow in this regard, we naturally give more of ourselves to the service of the Lord. Jesus also said things like, “take up your cross daily and follow me.” We also have the parable of the talents (Matthew 25).
Jesus expects us to take the blessings we are given, especially our faith in Him, and do something with it. If we are faithful, then we are given more blessing. Maybe we see the Lord work to provide for our immediate physical needs. Maybe we are given more work to do for the Lord. In any case, one thing we will receive is an increase in the ability to live righteously in this present world, and such a freedom is a great treasure.
Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Every branch in me bears much fruit. Without me, you could do nothing. Every branch in me that bears fruit will be pruned so that it can bring forth more. By this is your Father glorified, that you bear much fruit.”
Jesus also says, “fear not, it is God’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”
As Christians, we are not merely living in this world and laboring for wealth that perishes or goes to another. We are laboring for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and where thieves break through and steal. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”
If we are concerned about the economies of this world, then it helps if we focus on the economy of the Kingdom of Heaven. If we give ourselves to Him in all that we do, we are blessed with treasure that no man can take from us. We are given eternal life and so much more.
Paul the apostle wrote, “as it is written, we have not seen nor heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.”
If we seek first the Kingdom of God, then we are filled with the greatest blessings of all. These blessings are not of material gain, but treasures in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The world does not understand this. They think Christianity is used to control people or to perpetuate a Capitalist society. How foolish and untrue. Christianity provides much freedom and prosperity, though not earthly. We can experience freedom from destructive thoughts, emotions, and actions–even as the world around us is destroyed by those who are in bonds to such forces. We have truth when the world is deceived and confused. We have peace when the world is in chaos. We have an everlasting inheritance as adopted sons of God through Jesus. We have more than this world can ever have.
We are not pons of this world, as some would accuse us of being. That is the most hypocritical idea there is. The world serves the world and is a slave to it. We serve Jesus alone, and we are blessed of Him. We are made free.
If we lose treasures in this world at the hand of ungodly men, failed government, and unjust economical structures, then we have hope in something more. This will be difficult if we are prone to being one who is as the “seed among thorns” who is consumed by “cares of this life and deceit of riches.” God is good. If He must burn up the briers and thorns so that His people can return to Him more fully, then He will.
Let’s not wait for that day. We can serve the Lord now. We can dedicate all things to Him. We can see ourselves become full of His blessing as we experience the Kingdom of Heaven in our hearts. Let the kingdoms of this world have what belongs to them. “Give to Caesar what is Caesars.” We have something better. I will be thinking about these things today.