Firstfruits. What a random late night thought. Personally, I know I have heard this word many times while sitting in the pew, or even possibly as a youngster with a bad haircut in the Sunday school classroom (ah, the years of the mushroom haircut…thanks mom). But what does this word really mean?
The bible describes the concept beyond “firstfruits” in Deuteronomy. The book of Deuteronomy itself is referred to as a “covenant renewal document”, with repetitious tones of the law and promise the Lord gives his people. The Lord speaks through Moses to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 26, emphasizing firstfruits as a response to the plenty the Lord provides:
“He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me” (Deut. 26: 9-10a).
When I think of what “firstfruits” looked like to the Israelites in this day, I picture the first harvest, and the best of the best-something people likely want to hold on to.
This same mentality can still be applied today-when we see the benefit of “work”, or the signs of payoff or production, we often times want to keep that for ourselves (I know I fall into this category far too well). We may want to grip tightly to our payoffs for many reasons, some being the mentality of “I earned this, I deserve it!”, or “I absolutely need this”, to even “what if this is all that comes along? I can’t let this go.” To the above reasons, I’m not necessarily just meaning money. This can even relate to time (“I don’t have enough time!”), or how we approach opportunities (“What if nothing else comes along?”). Sound familiar? It sure does to me. We try to hang on to everything we possibly can in order to aim to sustain ourselves, or sometimes, even just stay afloat. We focus on storing up vs. living in the abundance that is.
But what does this say about our relationship with God? As we continue to live our lives as a response to him, God truly desires our “best”, all of us. Not the “bare minimum” to get by. Now I’m not saying this means to go off immediately after reading this and sell everything you own, but let me explain myself. The way we live out the time he has given, and what we do with what God has given us, is a direct reflection on our relationship with HIM. If I watch the offering plate go by week after week, justifying it with the ever-known reasoning of “I just don’t have any money to spare”, am I really trusting God to continue to provide for me? Or am I leaning more on myself to produce what I need? Or if I accept a job that I do not feel called to merely on the desperation of “I sincerely don’t think anything else is going to come along, so I might as well just take it”, am I operating on the belief that Christ will continue to guide and provide for me in a way that I might not understand? We shift the trust from our Creator to ourselves when we feel we just do not have anything to spare. This is scary, as the way we live shows the trust (and gratitude!) we have for our Provider.
Oftentimes, firstfruits are a sign of “more to follow”, and an ever-present reminder that to offer up firstfruits is to live in confidence and trust that God’s promise of provision will be fulfilled. It is living dangerously! It is living in a way that is contrary to what the world teaches (plan! plan! plan! Every man for himself!). While I am a frequent flyer of the planning group, I too must operate on the principle that the way I use my time, gifts, and money is a direct reflection on my relationship with my Savior. This can also send a strong message to others, and to connect the dots between our “dangerous living” and the trust we have in our Savior, to give complete and full glory to God!
Giving of ourselves in a way to Christ while “balancing” the circumstances of this earthly life can be challenging. And this tends to look differently for each one of us. But when we shift the focus to “what I need” to “God will provide”, our actions tend to follow, with intentions stemming from a place of trust in God rather than relying on ourselves. And what a comfort. What. A. Comfort. Because I sure as heck can’t do it on my own. Ever though 9 times out of 10, I try to (more on that later!).
How can you live “dangerously” this week with your intentions and actions? It may be something as simple as meeting up with a friend that you know needs to hear Jesus in the midst of struggle rather than spending an extra hour after work at the office to tackle that to-do list. Maybe it means setting aside a financial contribution to the works of the ministry God is calling you to be a part of, even if you feel that there is not a penny to spare. Or maybe this means praying a bold prayer this week. I would love to hear how this looks for you.
From my heart to yours-Stay tuned,