“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.” (ESV)
As much as many would like and have even tried to argue this is the case, one of the things the Bible does not teach is a kind of tit-for-tat giving arrangement whereby every time we give something, God gives back to us in equal amounts. Any preacher or teacher who has said otherwise is a snake oil salesman in disguise. But…
…what it does make clear is that if we practice sacrificial generosity with the resources God has entrusted to us, He will make sure we never lack for having our needs met. In fact, what the Scriptures seem to suggest in places just like this one is that we will have more than enough to meet our needs. Guys like Paul would later make clear the reason for this overage if we receive it is so that we can help others. Far from this being God blessing us at the expense of someone else such that we should be somehow ashamed of having plenty, He uses the abundance He gives to some to be the means by which the needs of others are met. Why He does this we do not know, but when we use our abundance for the sake of others, we are being the conduit by which God is providing for them. Cool stuff.
Think about why this is, though. When we give back to God from our first and our best primarily by giving to others (often through a local church), we are declaring that we trust in Him to be our provider more than we trust the stuff we are giving away to fill that position in our lives. Such obvious displays of trust and trustworthiness invite God to share more of His stuff with us. And wouldn’t you? If you had entrusted some of your resources in someone else and they demonstrated clearly their trustworthiness, wouldn’t you be pretty inclined to share more with them? Of course you would.
Now, does this mean that God will make us rich if we give generously? No. But, given that both His resources and the ways He goes about sharing them are unlimited, there are lots of ways for this principle to be played out in our lives. The point is that when we show ourselves trustworthy by eagerly and actively using His stuff (you know, the stuff we normally call “ours”) in the manner He most prefers, He will be active in making sure we have what we need to keep doing that. So be generous. You never know what will come of it, but it will probably be good.