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April 6, 2020

God's Promises

We have rich promises in the Word of God. In Scripture there are many passages that speak to financial matters; however, the text that serves as a north star for me in the area of financial counsel is, Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruits 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). A proverb is a commonplace truth, wise saying or precept.

As you reflect on this passage of Scripture, consider the Northwestern Mutual 2018 Planning & Progress Study: 

30% of Americans are stressed out about money constantly and money is the number one reason Americans are stressed. 

Money is more stressful than work or relationships. 

More than 50% of Americans feel anxious or unsure about money “often or “all the time.”

87% of Americans agree that nothing makes them happier or more confident than feeling like their finances are in order. 

I submit that we are living in a time where people are concerned about money and money management. 

Scripture records multiple passages that highlight individuals that clearly understood Proverbs 3:9‒10 as God’s promise and commitment to His faithful children. I have captured three for our consideration. 

First, read the story of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:12‒22. As a result of the tension with Esau, his brother, Jacob departs from Beersheba and heads toward Haran. While resting at night, the Lord speaks the following words to Jacob: Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you (Genesis 28:15).

In response to God’s promise and commitment, Jacob made the following vow: If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You (Genesis 28:20‒22 NKJV). For 77 years, Jacob seems not to have been a faithful tithe payer as he left Canna a poor fugitive with nothing but a staff in his hand. Yet he returned 20 years later with much cattle, flock, servants and a great large family. 

Our second Scripture is from Exodus 35:5‒10, 20‒21; and Exodus 36:5‒7. 

Here Moses appeals to the children of Israel to give an offering to build God a tabernacle. “No sooner did they know what things would be accepted, than they vied with each other in supplying them. Whatever any man possessed that could be applied to the projected structure, he deemed it instantly an offering to God; and without hesitation consecrated it to the service of his God. Each seemed to think himself rich, not in proportion to what he retained for his own use, but to the supplies he was able to contribute. The poorest among them were glad to give their jewels and their gold” (Logos BC, Homiletic, p. 554). What a demonstration of unselfish surrender to God. 

Our third and final text is Mark 12:41‒44. Here Jesus affirms the widow in her financial gift, because she gave her all, one mite. Her whole livelihood! A mite was considered the smallest or lowest-valued copper coin. In Matthew 20, a laborer was given a denarius as a day’s wage. It would take 64 mites to equal one denarius.

“Her heart went with her gift; its value was estimated, not by the worth of the coin, but by the love to God and the interest in His work that prompted the deed. It is the motive that gives character to our acts, stamping them with ignominy or with high moral worth. Not the great things which every eye sees and every tongue praises does God account most precious. The little duties cheerfully done, the little gifts which make no show and which to human eyes appear worthless, often stand highest in His sight.

“A heart of love and faith is dearer to God than the most costly gift. The poor widow deprived herself of food in order to give those two mites to the cause she loved. And she did it in faith, believing that her heavenly Father would not overlook her great need. It was this unselfish and childlike faith that won the Savior’s commendation” (Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 615). 

In conclusion there are two takeaway points important for us to remember: 1.) We must place our unconditional trust in God, willing always to serve as a faithful steward of Time, Talent, Treasure and Temperance, in whatever life cycle we might experience. 2.) In this new year, may we daily receive Heaven’s commendation, not for the things we do, but for the motives that prompts our deeds.     

Glynn Scott is treasurer of the Lake Union Conference.