This is my final week of a journey I began four weeks ago exploring in my Monday writings the topic of Keys to A Blessed Life. Jesus taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). Simply put, place God’s kingdom first, and the Lord will take care of us. Now there is a fundamental choice everyone makes when they first come to Christ, and that is placing Him as Lord of our life. Every day after that, a believer’s life either reinforces that decision or denies it. What we will discover is that this is not mostly an issue that is material or physical, but spiritual and God’s Word holds the keys to a genuinely blessed life.
The final key I am exploring, to having a blessed life, is that I must give the Lord my first fruits. God’s owning everything ought to be translated in our personal actions, in giving and living. Many believers begin the journey of discovering the keys to living a blessed life with this key, but I would suggest that until we understand the previous three, this final key is a sizable leap. Often teaching on first fruits is reduced to a mere message on the stewardship of personal belongings and income. Yes, this is part of it, but at its core, it’s a spiritual issue allowing a believer to live in empowered freedom and kingdom impact rather than living enslaved by our old walk and ways before coming to Christ.
No doubt, growing in Christ increases a believer’s generosity. However, generosity is the giving of our time, talent, treasure, and testimony. Once we understand that God owns everything, we will never really give to God again. Why? Because He already owns what we falsely believe is ours. What we will do is return to God a portion of what He has given us to steward as caretakers of what is really His (see: 1 Chron 29:14).
This principle of first fruits (giving God the first and best of what we have) and giving back to God has been exemplified since the second generation of humans. Cain and Abel both gave back to God what had been given to them. What is interesting is that Cain and Abel had no Old Testament Law regulating such actions. This came generations later. What we discover is that from the beginning, God had put in place the practice of returning to Him a portion of what He had provided. Immediately in Genesis, after we are told of The Fall, we discover teaching on returning first fruits to God. Since the sin of selfishness had entered the world through The Fall, God introduced a practice of giving to counter greed. You see, we need to give back to maintain spiritual healthiness.
When we give back to God a portion of what He has given us, our first fruits, it acknowledges that God owns everything. This principle is found throughout the whole of the Bible. This was so important that Jesus stated plainly:
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21).
Throughout Scripture, the “heart” refers to the center of one’s being, involving one’s emotions, reason, and will. Jesus is teaching that your giving will reveal your heart and that your heart will follow your treasure.
People have tried for generations to measure spirituality. But, the truth be told there are not many tangible ways to do so. Giving can be an actual measure. However, you can give back to God and not love Him. But, you cannot truly love God and not give back to Him.
In Paul’s second letter to believers in Corinth, we are presented with an example of a right first fruits mentality. He writes to the Corinthians about the extravagant love and generosity of Macedonian believers. Paul declares:
“In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Cor 8:2-5).
God’s extravagant love was manifest in the Macedonians, giving even though they had little. What surprised Paul was that the Macedonians also gave themselves first to the Lord and then to Paul and his companions. This giving was not just in money, it was a true gift of their time, talent, treasure, and testimony in service to the Lord first, then to others. They had little but gave much out of love and for the Lord’s glory.
This kind of life is only exemplified in those who have decreased, while God has increased in their lives, allowing the Spirit a growing influence in the way they think, feel, and live. Such a life only comes when, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, they have undivided devotion to the Lord. Such Christians who understand that God owns everything, that they are only giving back to God what He already owns, will give with a first fruits mindset. In other words, a first fruit mindset is born out of giving yourself to God first. Our giving to the Lord is not because the Lord needs it. After all, it is already His. Our returning to the Lord a portion of what He has given us – our first fruits is for us. This key, along with the others, produces a life blessed with heavenly treasure, divine rest, and fulfillment as we know God and make Him known.
It is exciting to learn and walk in the Spirit in this blessed life with each of you. Let us encourage one another to keep these keys to a blessed life in mind. But, even more, let’s invite the Spirit of God to conform our lives to them. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!