Not long ago I came across an all too familiar statement by Solomon in Proverbs 3:9-10 that I had read many times before. However, I must admit that I had never really plumbed the depths of this statement until recently. I just read it, noted it and moved on. When I decided to study it more deeply, what I uncovered was quite striking as well as very exciting. Here is what Solomon actually said, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so that your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine” (NASB).
Pastors often quote these verses urging people with limited or ordinary means to give liberally so that they will, as a result, become people with extraordinary means. Their “pitch” is that the more you give, the richer you will personally become. This, obviously, is the cornerstone of the prosperity gospel message. However, this half-truth is not limited to just those who promote this theology. I have seen many forms of it in evangelical sermons and teachings as well.
I will say that after studying this passage in much greater depth, this common interpretation of these verses misses the mark by a mile. Allow me to drill down a bit deeper and share with you what I have discovered about these two short verses.
Solomon is well known for making astute life-observations and then using his supernatural wisdom to coin simple yet profound proverbs about how life works. These proverbs form a treasure of life-counsel that is pointed and practical – many of them being insightful one-liners. They provide us with wise observations on life-outcomes resulting from certain decisions and life choices.
But Solomon in this passage shifts from merely observing how life works to giving a specific command. He uses the opening word “honor” in the imperative making his statement a command. Solomon is ordering the reader to “honor the Lord” with a specific kind of giving. He is not trying to simply entice us to give by dangling the promise of enjoying greater, personal, material prosperity before us. He is telling us that giving is serious business. But the more important question we must ask is, “Who is he talking to here?”
Solomon’s command here is not directed to the poor or people of modest means. This command is rather directed to individuals who are rich. Notice this giving is to come from the person’s “wealth.” Poor people of Solomon’s day would not have any wealth with which to obey this command.
This command is also not being directed to a group of middle class people who collectively may own among themselves more than one barn or vat. In all three places where the pronoun “your” is used (before “wealth,” “barns” and “vats”) they are all in the singular – meaning Solomon is talking to one wealthy person who personally possesses multiple barns and multiple wine vats – the wealthiest of the wealthy. There would have been no disagreement that anyone who owned multiple barns and vats in Solomon’s day would be wealthy. So this command from Solomon is specifically for those who are already wealthy, not those who want to become wealthy.
The Law of Resupply
One of the most common fears of giving is this, “If I get really radical in my giving, what I currently have in my barns and vats could be greatly diminished. Consequently, I may find them being only half-full or worse yet, entirely empty because I gave too much away.”
This is the exact concern that Solomon is addressing in this passage. He tells the wealthy that your liberal giving from your barns and vats will not reduce what your barns and your vats hold. Contrary to what you fear, your first fruits giving will not diminish what you have. Instead, it will ensure that your “barns will (remain) filled” and “your vats will (continue to) overflow” with excess even after your giving. This is what I call the Law of Resupply.
This is not the only place where we see this Law of Resupply demonstrated. Do you remember the story of the widow of Zeraphath (I Kings 17:7-16)? She used her last bit of flour and oil to make Elijah a small loaf of bread and as a result, her “jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty.” She obediently gave as she was directed by Elijah and the Law of Resupply kicked in. She never ran out of flour and oil.
The story of the five loaves and two fishes is another example of the Law of Resupply (Matthew 14:13-21). As the disciples distributed the loaves and fish to the hungry crowd, they were miraculously resupplied until everyone ate and they were full. When the feeding was over, they had twelve baskets left over – more than they started with!
One additional passage where we see this Law of Resupply taught is in II Corinthians 9:8, 10. Paul encourages us,
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. …He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way…”
Paul is telling us what we give will be resupplied to us. Why? So we can do even more giving. When we demonstrate a life and a commitment to doing good and helping others with the material possessions He entrusts to us, the Law of Resupply will operate in our lives and we will have “all sufficiency in all things at all times, (so we) may abound in every good work.” And “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.” What an incredible assurance! We can never become poor by giving too much away. God will always give givers more to give!
So, the practical question that seems to emerge from Solomon’s teaching on this Law of Resupply is this. Because my existing barns continue to be over-filled and my vats overflowing even after my giving, what should I do with the surplus that exceeds my current capacity and need? The natural response would be to do the same as the rich farmer, “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones and there I will store all my grains and goods” (Luke 12:18). That would be a tragic mistake! Read the verses that follow. God calls him a “fool.”
The supernatural response to our surplus, on the other hand, would be to give it all away. You don’t have room for it and you don’t have any need for it. You can use your surplus to help other believers in the world who have a shortfall. And in so deploying your surplus, you simply continue to keep the Law of Resupply operating – your abundant generosity produces even more generous abundance allowing you to practice more abundant generosity. And on and on the resupply cycle goes. What an exhilarating way to live and give!
Let us all be mindful that without a proper check of our motivation, this Law of Resupply can easily be reduced to nothing more than a self-serving gimmick to getting personally richer using “giving” as the methodology to achieve it. Solomon dismantles this possible self-serving motivation with his opening words, “honor the Lord…” Our singular motivation for giving is solely for the purpose of bringing honor to the Lord.
Do you remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16? “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” What is the ultimate objective of our giving? It is to bring glory and honor to the Lord. And as we focus on giving honor to Him, He gives us repeated opportunities to honor Him by enacting His Law of Resupply. Our goal then is not to increase prosperity for us, but to increase honor for Him.
Do you want to experience the Law of Resupply? Here are the steps. (1.) Begin by believing this law even exists. (2.) Find some way to give to honor the Lord. (3.) Give to the point that what you hold in your “barns” and your “vats” are at new lows. (4.) Repeat this honor the Lord giving process until you run out of money and possessions.
What? Relax. You will discover you will never get to (4.)! The Law of Resupply will become operational at some point and in some supernatural way “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.” Like the widow of Zeraphath, you will discover you will never run out of flour and oil.
Solomon isn’t making a suggestion here. He is giving us a command. Are you ready to obey his command and experience the supernatural Law of Resupply?
Download PDF: Barns and Vats
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E. G. “Jay” Link is the President of Stewardship Ministries, a teaching, training, mentoring and content ministry working with churches and nonprofit leaders to equip them with the biblical knowledge and training resources needed to serve all ages and all economic levels of believers to effectively live their lives as good and faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to them. He is the author of three books, “Spiritual Thoughts on Material Things: Thirty Days of Food for Thought,” “To Whom Much is Given: Navigating the Ten Life Dilemmas Affluent Christians Face” and “Family Wealth Counseling: Getting to the Heart of the Matter.”