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Pastor's Blog

First Fruit Stewardship

By March 20, 2023No Comments

Stewardship is managing what the Lord has given us in use for His good purposes. One area believers are called to steward is money. Few topics bring such anxious thoughts than money. In the gospels, this must be why Jesus taught on money second only to the Kingdom of God. The righteousness of the kingdom of heaven works out in the details of one’s personal life. This includes our finances (Matthew 16:19-20).

Jesus calls His followers to choose our master, either God or wealth. Francis Bacon professed, “Money is a great servant but a bad master.” Money is not bad; it’s helpful but is often the biggest obstacle to being all in with the Lord. Therefore, God has instituted the principle of First Fruits to teach us to rely entirely on Him – to be all in with Him.

What is the principle of First Fruits? The principle of First Fruits is giving God the first and best of what we have. Giving back to God has been practiced since the second generation of humans. Immediately in Genesis, after we are told of The Fall, we discover examples and 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. We need to give back to God to maintain spiritual health. The principle of First Fruits teaches that giving the Lord our first fruits is for our benefit.

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” (Matthew 6:21). Here is the simple truth, Jesus taught that your giving will reveal your heart and that your heart will follow your treasure. Therefore, Jesus urges His disciples to trust God. What we work for shows us what or whom we have set our hearts on.

People have tried for generations to measure spirituality. But, 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. The principle of First Fruits teaches that giving our first fruits to God acknowledges God owns everything and can provide evidence that our heart is His.

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 (2 Corinthians 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. The Macedonians had little but gave much out of love and for the Lord’s glory and the benefit of others.

This kind of life is only exemplified in those who understand and practice that God must increase and I must decrease. When God has increased in believer’s life, allowing the Spirit a growing influence in the way they think, feel, and live, the seed of First Fruits giving begins to take root. Such a life only comes when, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, the Christian has evidenced in his or her life – an undivided devotion to the Lord. Such Christians who realize that God owns everything understand that they are only giving back to God what He already owns, leading to a First Fruits mindset. The principle of First Fruits teaches that a First Fruit mindset is born from giving yourself to God first.

A spiritual discipline, which has existed since the calling out of God’s people in the Old Testament, that God has used to transform our thinking and actions from a scarcity mindset to a First Fruits mindset is the giving of the tithe. The purpose of tithing is to teach us to always put God first in our lives. What is a tithe? The word tithe means a tenth part or 10%. In the Bible, God tells us that we are to give back to Him the first 10% of all we earn. Where should I give my tithe? The Bible makes it clear that God expects the tithe to be given back to Him as an act of worship at the place where you worship (Malachi 3:10). The Bible also makes it clear this should be a plan and consistent act of worship (1 Corinthians 16:2).

In the days of the Old Testament and New Testament, the tithe or “First Fruits” came from the best while not knowing how the rest would hold up – their crops, animals, and financial dealing. This is as true today. God calls us to give the tithe (10%) of what we earn to God, trusting that God will not only provide what we need but provide in such a way that we can be generous.

Now, I know money is a touchy subject. But, how we handle our money gives insight into where our heart or faith lies. Tithing displays a trust in God and a desire to transform our minds so we can live in Christ, like Christ. Tithing is a spiritual discipline used by God to transform lives of scarcity into lives that express trust in God and His wonderful provisions.

Let me share with you some practical steps to help you take your next step in developing a First Fruits lifestyle. Decide to participate in a small group or a one-on-one discipleship relationship or participate in Financial Peace University (a class that offers financial education that helps create biblical behaviors that let you master your finances). You can discover more about any of these opportunities at Crosswinds’ Info Central, online, or in our coffee shop lobby on our Canandaigua campus. Finally, take the 90-Day Tithing Challenge (tithe for 90 days and see if the Lord is faithful to His promise to care for you).

Wherever you find yourself in this journey of living a first fruits lifestyle or being all in with God by giving the Lord your first fruits, remember, our giving to the Lord is not because the Lord needs it. After all, it’s already His. Really, we don’t give but return to the Lord the first fruits of what He has given us. Our returning to the Lord a portion of what He has given us – our first fruits is for us. Giving the Lord our first fruits is for our benefit. Giving our first fruits to God acknowledges God owns everything and can provide evidence that our heart is His. A First Fruits mindset is born out of giving yourself to God first. Giving the Lord our first fruits, along with our time, talent, and testimony produces an “all in” life blessed with heavenly treasure, divine rest, and fulfillment as we know God and make Him known. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!