After the staff and I had a discussion on the first-fruits offering, it got me thinking about the validity of it. The first-fruits offering was something that the Israelites practiced in their relationship with God. It was an offering that was to be brought to the Lord in the beginning of the harvest season to express their thankfulness and their trust in God for His Provisions.
In the book of Leviticus and the book of Deuteronomy, we see the instructions for the firstfruits offering (Lev 23:9-14; Dt 26:1-10). It was interesting that no grain was to be harvested until this firstfruits offering was brought to the Lord. The offering helped the Israelites remember their situation in Egypt and how God delivered them and brought them to the land “flowing with milk and honey.” It reminded the people that “every good and perfect gift” comes from above.
Now, fast forward thousands of years. In the New Testament, the firstfruits offering is mentioned a handful of times, but usually in the context of harvesting souls (Ro 16:5; 1 Co 16:15; Jas 1:18). The Apostle Paul does tell the Christians in Corinth, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (1 Co 16:2).
This “setting aside” of resources was for the purpose of giving to God out of gratitude in their hearts. One again, we see the principle – “when a person is thankful and trusting in God for their daily provisions, they will naturally want to give and give cheerfully.”
It reminded me of a situation that happens once in awhile in my relationship with Christina. There are times when I run out of the door in the mornings and go through a whole day of various meetings and appointments. By the time we wash up the kids and put them to sleep, I am SO TIRED. The last thing I want to do is talk with someone. But then Christina comes downstairs and asks me to sit down next to her and “chat.”
Now let’s pause here for a moment.
If I get self-centered, selfish and believe that this is “my time” alone, I will not respond in an appropriate manner. If I am not thankful for her and grateful that God has blessed me with an incredible wife, then I will not respond in an appropriate manner. If I do not trust that God will somehow refresh me and give me strength to do what I have to do, then I will not respond in an appropriate manner.
In some ways, allotting some time with Christina becomes my firstfruits to her because I am thankful for her. It expresses my love and devotion to her, especially my commitment to love her unconditionally.
I am wondering what would happen in the church, if every single person had this kind of perspective with their time, talents and treasures in their relationship with God?
As the Apostle Paul said to the people of Corinth, “Remember, the man who plants only a few seeds will not have much grain to gather. The man who plants many seeds will have much grain to gather. Each man should give as he has decided in his heart. He should not give, wishing he could keep it. Or he should not give if he feels he has to give. God loves a man who gives because he wants to give. God can give you all you need. He will give you more than enough. You will have everything you need for yourselves. And you will have enough left over to give when there is a need” (2 Cor 9:6-8, New Life Version).