First Fruits by Steve Younce

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-1-53-05-pmEvery Sunday we hear these words; “Now we honor God with the giving of our Tithes and Offerings.” The ushers pass the plate and everyone in the congregation has their opportunity to tithe and to offer to God that which He’s given to us already.  The few times when the sermon topic is Tithes and Offerings, it makes some of us uncomfortable. Why do you think that is? Aren’t we called in scripture to give our tithes and offerings to support and further God’s work in the world? In fact, there’s clear calculations in the Bible that instruct us as to the minimum tithe we are to give.

In a previous church I attended, the pastor did a very good job of preaching on how to change my way of thinking when it came to tithes and offerings. The teaching was scriptural and clear. The term focused upon was, “First Fruits”. We are called upon to give our “First Fruits” to God, and the remainder is for all of our remaining responsibilities. The promise is that in the giving of our “First Fruits”, we are rewarded many times over by our loving and faithful God. In a video series we viewed in my small group, the teacher gave examples of how God had blessed him and others in a mighty way once God received His “First Fruits”.

The instruction and the challenge was, when you first receive your gifts of finances (or other forms of gifts, to be discussed below) the very first check you write is at least 10% as your tithe to God; your “First Fruits”. Then you pay your bills and other financial responsibilities. I know, many worry that in doing so, there’s more month at the end of the money. I’ve been there, too. But, that is the challenge and the expectation of God. What if you decided today to take this challenge —  joyfully —  with the expectation that your gifts will be returned many times over by God. Sounds like a leap of Faith, doesn’t it?  Dave Ramsey’s plan for managing your finances is just one great way to not only achieve financial stability, but when you budget in your “First Fruits” it eventually becomes second nature. And with faith you open the door to prosperity that God’s grace promises.

The second part of Tithes and Offerings, is of course Offerings. You may be thinking —  wait — I just got my head around pealing off 10% of the money I make. However, Offerings is not the same as tithing. It could be an increase in money you designate toward God’s work here on earth. But, it could also be the giving of your spiritual gifts and God given talents to further good works.

It might mean going on a mission trip, helping build a home for someone in need, singing in the choir, serving in Sunday school, joining a planning committee, leading a small group, a gift of your time, or many other ways that your creativity can give back. There are so many of us at FPC who are gifted and talented in incredible and diverse ways!   If everyone added their Offerings to their Tithes, just watch out for all that we can do in our church and community.

Remember the woman in the Bible who gave her last few coins, compared to those who were rich and gave much more. By comparison in their ability to give, the woman gave much more than the rich man, and was blessed for doing so. I am not suggesting that anyone give Tithes and Offerings that put you into financial ruin. God would never want that for you. But, I challenge you to pray about what you as a cheerful giver can offer back to God. After all, what we have was his to begin with, right?