As a young person, I often thought that honoring God was strictly about living a holy life -- in the most physical sense of the word.
I thought that wearing modest clothes, carrying a Bible, and singing on the church praise team were ways in which I could honor God. Surely, those are things I do that display I am honoring Him, but they are not the full story.
I was taught the principle of paying tithe and giving in the offering at a very young age, but it was not until I had been through the heartache of my financial struggles that I realized how much (or how little) of what I did with that money was also a reflection of my devotion to our God.
We are to be “living sacrifices” to God, so there are many ways in which we can honor God, but as a financial educator and Christian, I believe we must honor Him with our finances as well:
- Pay tithe.
- Stay out of debt (or pay it off).
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops” (Proverbs 3:9, NIV).
Firstfruits is such a funny word, isn’t it? I mean, most of us have heard the term and have come to understand what it means from being taught about tithing at church, but when you think about it, it is a bit odd. In the Hebrew, this word means “first, beginning, best, chief” (H7225, Strong's Hebrew Lexicon). Tithe means “tenth” (H4643, Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon).
We are to give God the best and first of everything that we give Him, but specifically with our finances and all that we earn. We can honor God by paying the first ten percent of our income to Him through our local church.
Some have asked me if they should pay tithe while paying off debt or if their expenses outweigh their actual income. To this I say, “Absolutely!” When we give God the ten percent, He blesses the ninety percent.
Stay Out of Debt
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Proverbs 22:7, ESV).
I am the chief sinner when it comes to money mistakes, specifically with debt. We are now debt-free, but it was not without confronting the problem and asking God to lead us as we vowed to honor Him with our money.
Debt stretches us to our limits financially and sometimes relationally. Spouses argue over a household or individual purchases, children receive everything they want or nothing at all, and businesses close down because they are leveraged and cannot continue through economic instability. I am not insinuating that the above are only affected by money matters, but it is not unusual for money to be a determining factor in these situations.
We can honor God by taking small steps toward paying off our debts, living below our means, and being content with what we do have and delaying gratification to save for what we want.
Tithe-paying and giving are often used synonymously, but we can also give of our time, energy, and abilities. However, there is something so gratifying in giving through our finances. Giving can be as simple as blessing a family in your church with groceries or giving a gas gift card to a college student or providing a service for someone else. It does not have to be cash or a cash equivalent to display the posture of our hearts, but it can be.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Giving is action. Work heartily, give heartily.
Honoring God with any portion of our lives -- including with our money -- takes discipline, persistence, and grace. What is one step you can take today to honor God with your finances?