Disciple of Thecla
12/10/11 at 08:00 AM 1 Comments

Giving the Firstfruits of your Increase

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One night, months ago now, I was watching my current favorite TV show, and a verse appeared - Proverbs 3:9 "Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the firstfruits of all your increase."

At the time, I was unemployed, so I was praying for a job. When I saw that bible verse, I realized that after I receive a steady paycheck, I need to dedicate part to God to show my appreciation for what He gives me.

The Lord fulfilled my prayers, and I began to consider how I should dedicate my firstfruits. Honoring God this way appears throughout the Old and New Testaments. Leviticus 2:12 says "As for the offering of the firstfruits, you shall offer them to the LORD," and in Exodus 34:26, we have: "The firstfruits of your land you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God."

Do you honor God with your possessions? How can you honor God with material things that He does not need or has no use?

The answer is simple. The ways to honor God with our firstfruits are to either support ministries or to provide acts of charity, either to organizations or to individuals. God's blessings are His special gift, His charity in a sense. By giving to others with what God granted us, we enable others to share in the joy and love of God.

In the ancient past, the ministries were the Levites, but the book of Leviticus also instructs us to be charitable and to love our neighbors.

Leviticus 25:35-37 "If one of your brethren becomes poor and falls into poverty, then you shall help him like a stranger or sojourner that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him... you shall not lend him your money for usury nor your food for a profit."

Deuteronomy 27:13 instructs us to give our tithes to the "Levites, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow."

Jesus summed up all the commandments as loving God and loving our neighbor. Firstfruits must be given out of love and appreciation. Give for the joy of giving because you realize that the people in need were created in the image of God who loves you, just as you were created. All are equal in the eyes of God. This means that we must "walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us." (Ephesians 5:2)

Jesus has been referred to as God's firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:23) given to us for our salvation. By following the example of Jesus and believing in our salvation, we become the firstfruits of Jesus. "Of His own will, He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (James 1:18) James does refer to spiritual fruit, but spiritual fruit is furthermore enacted in the world around us. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22)

And what do these spiritual fruits look like? Spiritual fruits are charitable deeds and supporting God's ministries. People who have love, joy, and peace want to be charitable and want others to share in their love and joy of peace. Sometimes, the words "love" and "charity" are interchangeable in the translations. Donate to those in need because of the love within your heart. Donate to ministries because through them, you obtain a deeper understanding and connection to God.

For generations, we have heard that all we need is faith for salvation. True enough, but what good does faith do if we refuse to let it guide our actions and if we deny spiritual fruits? Who does our faith benefit?

"If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does [faith] profit?" (James 2:15-16)

"Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18)

Where is the love of Jesus within us if we never give our firstfruits?

I will not advocate any particular charity or ministry. If you find an individual in financial trouble circumstances, then you can provide clothing or money for other necessities. Even help around the house if certain troubles deprive that person of the time. Donate to either local groups or large organizations that help people in need such as providing food, helping the homeless, or assisting families with medical troubles. Large organizations that have a working ground force are organizations which will use the money for the greater good. If a particular ministry fills you with a love and understanding for God and for your neighbor, then you can donate to that ministry but only if the preacher speaks the genuine word of God and leads you to spiritual growth.

Never donate your firstfruits to social or political causes. Jesus never involved himself with politics.

Now, you can make a regular schedule for giving your firstfruits with constant contemplation over who should receive it next. In today's society, "of all your increase" means every paycheck, so you could set aside a determined amount of each paycheck or simply set aside part of your monthly savings. When I dedicated my firstfruits, I thought it to be a singular instance, but now I realize genuine charity should be a regular occurrence with constant love and compassion. What better way is there to enable people to experience the love of God than by sharing that love with them?

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