“Honor 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
Poverty was no stranger to the first century church, yet their generosity was so great that it continues to be a model for those of us who are followers of Jesus some 2,000 years later. In Acts 2, the early church is described as having all things in common and one that has a generous heart to give. We read in Acts 2:42-45, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.” In Acts 4:34-35, their generosity is again displayed, “There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.” And again in Acts 11:29, “So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.”
Over the past year, we talked about first fruits. The idea is that this type of giving sets the tone for the rest of the year by showing God how committed we are to giving him the first of everything, from what we produce – our finances, time, gifts, and resources. First fruit is biblical. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree,” according to Nehemiah 10:35. And Exodus 23:19, “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.”
Giving first fruits not only shows God our gratitude for His provision thus far, but shows our sacrificial faith that He will continue to provide and bless our efforts in the new year.
Opportunities for charity are everywhere, and there are plenty of credible places to give. In fact, you might think Northstar is just another one of them. To us, one thing is different. Our giving isn’t about charity, it’s about worship. God instructs us, through the Bible, to give regularly, generously and sacrificially out of all that He gives us—all as part of our worship of Him. What an appropriate response to who He is and all He has done. Giving is an expression of gratitude, obedience, and reverence: worship.
But, why give money to the church? Because it’s “the right thing to do,” or “it’s a good tax write-off” or “God needs it,” or “the church expects it?” Well, to put it simply, it’s what God says to do. Not because God needs what we have. But because we need to give it to the Savior who died for us.
- It has been said that our check books reveal our values and priorities. Do you think that is true? Why or why not?
- How is setting aside the tithe a good place to place to start when seeking to honor God with our money?
- What is the first thing you usually do on payday? Has that always been the first thing? How has your response to getting paid for work changed over the years? Why is that response an accurate measure of our priorities in life?