Daily Bible Study: Proverbs 3:9-10

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.

Proverbs 3:9-10 (NKJV).

Short passages can contain a lot of complexity to unpack, but this one isn't one of those. The wisdom here is very simple, and while I might throw a slightly different perspective on it, it all still flows thematically with what has already come in Proverbs before it.

First, I'll note that the word for "honor" is "kabad or kabed" and while there are some other meanings, this particular one, just simply "honor", obviously fits the best, though you can get a sense for how those other definitions fit via the phrase "weighing a decision."

Of the three other times this particular phrase is used, two of them are in reference to "honoring your father and mother".

The reason I bring that up is that the modern concept of a tithe, of the sacrifice to God, is sometimes framed in that we're just stewards of God's resources, they aren't really "ours", and so returning them to God is more like putting something back in a "Lost and Found" for God.

Historically, for Israel, the sacrifices they made had a more formal purpose. For one, they were necessary as part of showing contrition to God. Secondly, the sacrifices made were provision to the Levites who spent time in the maintenance and operation of God's temple, and so would not have the capacity to also tend to fields and livestock.

This responsibility fell on all of the Levites as well, and so they relied on the offerings to God from the other tribes to sustain them. While it might seem like it's trivializing the nature of the responsibility, God's temple was rather like a kitchen, with the sacrifices regularly being "for a sweet aroma to the Lord", and the instructions on preparation of the sacrifices looking startlingly similar to that of a modern cooking recipe. While the actual acts held much more significance as part of the rituals for Israel, it doesn't detract from the fact that the regular sacrifices were part of an established order, an agreement, between God and Israel, and that it served multiple purposes at the same time.

Also, that God likes good cooking, but I digress.

After Jesus' death and resurrection, those who place their faith in him become a temple themselves, literally. The New Testament refers to the body of the believer as the new temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in.

If honoring God under the "old" covenant included making sacrifices to the pleasure of God and those who were tending to God's temple, and for the maintenance and upkeep of the temple itself, while the specific actions taken to "honor God" would change with the "new" covenant, why would the heart of what God desired in that sacrifice, through humility, to change?

God designed the reality we exist in, and it is not accidental that when we are in harmony with the creator, we can find harmony with the created, and in turn disharmony with that which is in rebellion with God's order. Obedience to God produces abundance and wealth because God designed the mechanisms by which abundance and wealth could exist in the first place. This is why the commands of God are rarely ever arbitrary, or without both spiritual and physical purpose.

God is good, so God's commands are also good, and so while the struggles we face won't get any easier, the fruits of our labor are increased when we honor God through what we have and what we gain. Our abundance is not to our own benefit alone, but a demonstration of the goodness and greatness of the God we worship and obey, and how we respond reflects who we worship, who we honor.

In the same manner that we honor our father and mother by taking heed of their rules and laws on our lives as children in growing up to become adults, so God also places burdens, constraints, and demands on us in maturing as humans, created in the image of God, for the express purpose of bringing glory to God. It seems paradoxical, but when we live under this limitation, when we sacrifice to God's glory from what we have wrought with our own efforts, God glorifies us in return with blessing and favor.

What we earn, what we have, is genuinely ours to decide what to do with, but the entire system in which that gain, let alone existence itself, is possible belongs to God, and we can either keep what we have reaped and thus experience the entirety of our reward, or we can honor God and experience even more.