At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.Proverbs 3:9–10
One of the very practical theological problems that Christians frequently have concerns the issue of God’s temporal blessings. A very common framework is to relegate temporal blessings to the Old Testament and spiritual blessings to the new. Not only is this too facile, but it leaves modern Christians without any real direction on what to do with their (very real) wealth.
If our temporal blessings are from God, then we are responsible to God (and to His Word) for how we serve as stewards of what He has given. But if our wealth is entirely “accidental,” and not connected in any way to how we are living before Him, then we don’t have to answer for what we do—only provided we don’t actively sin with it.
But it is my conviction that Christians are supposed to live before God in such a way as to enjoy what we might call the Deuteronomic blessings—“blessed shall be thy basket and thy store” (Deut. 28:5). How we live our lives generally, and how we honor God with the first fruits of our labors (as in this passage from Proverbs), has a financial impact on our lives. And that impact is generally one of palpable blessing.
Of course there are temporal exceptions in the Christian era, but there were also exceptions in the Old Testament. And when those exceptions occur (poverty and a hard life instead of tangible blessings), there were compensatory spiritual blessings. Some Old Testament saints wandered in deserts, mountains, dens and caves (Heb. 11:38), despite it being all in the Old Testament.
There were temporal blessings back then, but there were also spiritual blessings. Between the covenants, no principle has changed. What has changed, however, is the practical amount of enormous wealth that we enjoy. When Paul told Timothy to instruct the “rich in this present world” in a particular way (1 Tim. 6:17), he was telling him how to instruct a tiny percentage of the church. Today, at least in the West, it is a large majority in the church.
That is no reason for the instruction to change. In fact, it is all the more reason for us to emphasize the teaching of Scripture on this subject—including Deuteronomy and Proverbs.