God Should Get the Firsts

Throughout biblical times, there was a general principle that the firstfruits of everything belonged to God. It was the most appropriate offering to give because it was understood to be the best.

What is so special about “firsts”? Obviously, the person who has first choice can choose the best. And during a bad harvest, it takes faith to believe that if you give God a cut off the top, there will be enough left over to get you through until the next year. With children, there is always a specialness about the firstborn because he or she is the one who changed your life, and made you into a parent.

WheatThis was so important that no one was allowed to eat the fruit of a field until the first offering of it had been given to God. The whole field was assumed to be set apart and holy as the fruit matured, and only after God had been given his portion could humans enjoy the fruit. The custom was widespread in ancient times, and some traditional tribes in Africa still do this.

Knowing about firsts is also important for understanding the story of Cain and Abel. Abel offers the “fat portions of the firstborn of his flock” whereas Cain just offers “some of the fruit of the ground.” (Gen. 4:3-4) Abel is wholeheartedly offering the best of the best, and Cain is begrudgingly giving the minimum. It’s no mystery why God accepted Abel’s worship and not Cain’s.

All this in mind, I’ve also been pondering this as I organize my life. I admit that whenever I have some important task like writing an article or preparing a talk, that I always ask myself if there is anything else that I need to do first. I hate little distractions of things that need to be done, so why not get them out of the way? And truthfully, if I dread writing something, it makes a great avoidance technique. By pushing the writing to the end, I can control the time I spend on it by not allowing it to take longer than the time that is remaining. (I know there are others like me out there!)

What I’m realizing now is that when I write an article or talk first thing, it is a gift to God out of my best available time. I can spend as long as is required to make it nice. I can give God an opportunity to inspire me by having moments after its done to think and pray about it again. It is like an offering of my firstfruits.

But an article or presentation that is written last thing isn’t an offering at all – it is what I’ve been compulsed to do. Its purpose is more to serve my needs than God’s — to meet a deadline, or to have a decent talk together. Usually the project comes together just fine anyhow, and God graciously gives me inspiration at the late hour. But in terms of giving God my best, I know I haven’t done it.

What would happen if I always gave God my firstfruits?

Published in: on August 23, 2007 at 9:08 pm  Comments Off on God Should Get the Firsts  
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