First Fruits

Life Notes—October 8, 2009 

“Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”  Proverbs 3: 9-10                                   

Did you hear the one about the preacher who was asked how he decided the amount to give to the Lord’s work?  The preacher had two guidelines.  First, his offerings were always from the first fruits of his labors.  Second, he offered the Lord as much as the Lord wanted.  His process was to convert each paycheck to cash and immediately throw it all into the air.  Whatever the Lord caught belonged to the Lord, whatever the Lord let fall to the ground was his… 

Giving of our first fruits is not an ambiguous directive.  It is difficult to word-smith it into something that doesn’t actually mean first.  Oh sure, I have tried.  But I struggle with the thought of giving away the first portion of whatever I earn.  I am much more comfortable making sure the bills are paid and the cars are full of gas and the refrigerator is stocked before fulfilling my pledge to support my church.  I can easily justify this because (1) if I don’t fulfill my pledge to the church someone else will pick up the slack, and (2) if I pay the church first and need the money later in the month it’s very awkward to ask for my money back.  Am I alone in my reasoning?  

Of course we know the church depends on our offerings every bit as much as we depend on our paychecks.  If my employer were to withhold part of my check for fear the company might need it later I would scream, “But I need that money.  I depend on it!”  Why would I expect it to be any different with my church?  Too often we treat our pledge to the church, or our commitments to other charitable organizations, as optional—something easily skipped when the money is gone.  After all, our intentions were good… 

But God wants our first fruits.  We receive, then we give…then we trust.  We cannot be blessed by our own stinginess, only by God’s generous provision.  When our month outlasts our money we should find other ways to make ends meet. Tom’s sermon title is, “Wisdom and Finance,” based on the book Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity.  The scripture reading is Proverbs 3:1-10.  Life Worship begins at 10:45.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Contemporary worship begins at 9:30 at the west campus. 

Come home to worship this Sunday!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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