Should Christians today give a first fruits offering?

What is ‘First Fruits’?
It’s important to understand that First Fruits is a biblical principle that is practised and emphasised throughout the Bible. It begins in the origins of the Bible with faithful believers like Abel (in Genesis 4) and Moses (in Exodus 23) & continues into the New Testament through the Apsotle Paul’s writings.

It was Moses who said: “As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19)

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King Solomon wrote about it too: “Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10).

The most comprehensive passage about the first fruits offering is found in Deuteronomy 26. It explains that the purpose of the first fruits was to acknowledge how God took the Israelites down to Egypt, multiplied their number, released them, and gave them the land of Canaan for an inheritance. Canaan was a fertile land that was already settled by people who did horrible things like sacrifice their children. For their sin, God had the Israelites destroy the Canaanites, and then He gave the Israelites the land.

God told the Israelites that the first fruits offering was to be given in thanks for “cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant…” (Deuteronomy 6:10-11). The offering was brought to the temple where it was displayed before God, and then given to the priests for their sustenance (Numbers 18:11-12). Proverbs 3:9-10 does say that offering first fruits will bring blessings, but it’s unclear if this is a general proverb or a specific promise of God to His people; in the majority of appearances, first fruits is associated with thanks to God for bringing the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan.

 

The principle of First Fruits is when we give the first and best of our fruit to God.

‘Fruit’ in our modern day context means: income, wealth and finance. So at the start of each year, families and individuals bring a special financial offering that goes way beyond our normal tithing or offerings. We follow in the footsteps of great biblical leaders by coming to God and giving the first of our wealth and the best of it to God.

It’s a sight to behold each year at TCC, when you see countless people giving extravagantly to God. The atmosphere begins to charge through January as we fix our eyes of God and live in obedience and faith. We here stories of sacrifice and generosity where people go above and beyond to bring their best.

Here’s the amazing part…

When we give to God in obedience and affection, He gives back to us. Let’s read what King Solomon said again, “Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)

God fills our lives to overflowing! As a result, God moves in powerful and miraculous ways in situations that only He could resolve. We hear of breakthrough’s in health and finance, relationships and families, careers and mental health. Literally when people put their faith in God, God reveals His faithfulness to His people.

 

Why do we bring our First Fruits into the Church?

God asks us to.

“As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19)

The house of the Lord is the Church; that’s us! It’s also a wonderful thing to think that the church we are building together is what God calls ‘His House’. What an honour and what a privilege!

 

You’re investing back into your home; your spiritual family.

Why wouldn’t we give extravagantly to our people and our vision. We are after all investing in our children and young people, in our men and our women, the broken who walk through our doors and the desperate who are touched by our community engagement, and all the generations and nationalities that call our church their home.

The church is the vehicle by which the world is transformed and this includes the neighbourhoods where we live and the people we work alongside. Our giving goes back into the community we belong to.

Who spreads the love of God around Wigan? We do, the church. Who blesses the poor and helps the broken find healing? We do. Who shapes the next generation in the ways of Christ? We do! Why wouldn’t we bring the first and best of our fruit into the house?

 

What and how should I give?

Let’s get practical. We desire to give God our first and best and we are also expectant of what God can do through our obedience and generosity … but what is the right amount to give?

Generosity is grounded on good stewardship and managing our money well. So what and how do we give a First fruits offering that is both wise and extravagant? Here are some principles for making the most of your giving:

Pray

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.“ – James 1:5

God knows you and He knows your financial situation; He may want you lean in for His guidance. Go to Him daily and ask Him: “God, help me out. I want to give generously. Show me what my ‘first and best’ is.”

One of two things will happen. He’ll either bring a figure to forefront of your mind to give or He’ll help you to decide upon a figure.

Plan

If you’re in a couple, have you talked to your partner about it yet? Choose a good dinner time and ask each other the question: “What would be the best we can give?” Get agreement on it and create unity behind the gift we give together.

If you’re a parent, get your kids involved. Ask them what they want to give and allow them to be part of this. It’s right that our kids give their first and best to God and it also creates an opportunity for a specific blessing for them too.

Identify the amount and think through how you are fulfilling it. Some people make a spreadsheet to categorise dates and map out money streams. Others don’t yet have a firm idea of where it is their pledge is coming from. It’s whatever works best for you.

 

Places

Think creatively of about the places your income streams can flow from. Many of us don’t just have one back account and some of us have a number other areas we can tap into.

The beauty of our eight week fulfilment period is that it helps in purposing various sources of wealth. We’ve heard of incredible givers who gave from savings accounts, shares and pension pots. Some of our children save up for First Fruits, even sacrificing computer games so they can give God the best and first of what they have. Others give from their business or their dividends and some work extra hours to boost their pledge.

In my younger years, I’d want to give more than I could so I’d pick up some extra shifts at the place I was working. In that way, I could maximise my First Fruits and also honour God with my time. Sometimes sacrificing something personal is part of the power behind our first and best.

If we think creatively there is more than just one place to give from. Why not think through where these line up for you and be audacious in your offering?

From today we can begin to pray for God’s guidance, plan how we make our generosity happen and identify the places from which we can give God our ‘first and our best’.

Remember, that First Fruits is about attitude not just amounts. Some have much and some have little but whatever our financial status, all of us can give to the same measure of faith. We can all throw ourselves into obedience to God and believe in the outrageous wonders from Him.

If you have little you can still believe much. And if you have much, you have a responsibility to show the ways in faith. So give with as much faith as you can muster in relation to your circumstance! If you have surplus, believe big and give big. If you have little, believe big and give big! It’s simple.

Culled from www.compellingtruth.org& www.tcclife.com

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