GENEROSITY WITH GLADNESS
WHAT IS 'FIRST FRUITS'?
It is important to understand why we do what we do in church especially in the area o finances. Below is some information to help outline the purpose of the bringing our best at the beginning of the year.
‘Fruit’ in our modern day context means: income, wealth and finance. So at the start of each year, families and individuals bring a special financial offering that goes beyond our normal offerings. We follow in the footsteps of great biblical leaders by coming to God and giving the first of our wealth and the best of it to God.
WHY DO WE BRING OUR FIRST FRUITS INTO THE CHURCH?
1. God asks us to.
“As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19)
The house of the Lord is the Church; that’s us! It’s also a wonderful thing to think that the church we are building together is what God calls ‘His House’. What an honour and what a privilege!
2. You’re investing back into your home; your spiritual family.
Why wouldn’t we give extravagantly to our people and our vision. We are after all investing in our children and young people, in our men and our women, the broken who walk through our doors and the desperate who are touched by our community engagement, and all the generations and nationalities that call our church their home. The church is the vehicle by which the world is transformed and this includes the neighbourhoods where we live and the people we work alongside. Our giving goes back into the community we belong to.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE GIVER?
1. We are making a statement for the year.
First Fruits is not a New Years resolution; it’s a declaration. It’s when we speak life over our future and our situation. We say the time to come, “God will win and so will I. I am planting my roots in God’s soil and He is my provider.” We prophecy to the future: “Watch out, Worry, and step aside, Selfishness, forget about it, Fear, you no longer have a part in God’s destiny for me. This year I put my faith in the God who sets me free. It’s my time and it’s my turn.” These are powerful statements we make over our lives at the start of the year! In 2019 we are empowering the church to Count the Stars, to believe for the innumerable abundance of God’s plan for your life and be obedient to Him as you walk.
2. We are starting as we mean to go on.
We are not walking this year in our own strength and our own limitation. We are starting the year putting our faith in the right place and positioning ourselves under the abundance of our Heavenly Father. I put my trust in a God who receives the first fruits and blesses the rest.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33
3. We are setting up the harvest.
King Solomon tells us, when we give our First Fruits, our ‘barns will be filled to overflowing’ and our ‘vats will brim over with new wine’ (Proverbs 3:10). Imagine a harvest being more than your current containers can handle. Let’s not make this about money either. Let’s see God for who He is: the Lord of everything! As givers, we are setting up a harvest of God’s grace in any area of life. This might mean the restoration of your mental health or physical health, this might be a relational issue or struggles with others, or it could be to do with your work or neighbourhood.
Our motive for giving is not to receive but we give because we want to prosper the Gospel (the good new of Jesus Christ) in our lives as well as the town we seek to transform. We give our first and best to God our of obedience and faith, that’s our starting place, knowing that God will both increase our harvest and protect it too because that’s His character.
“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” – Apostle Paul, Hebrews 11:6
WHAT AND HOW SHOULD I GIVE?
Generosity is grounded on good stewardship and managing our money well. So what and how do we give a First fruits offering that is both wise and extravagant? Here are some principles for making the most of your giving:
“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.“ – James 1:5
God knows you and He knows your financial situation; He may want you lean in for His guidance. Go to Him daily and ask Him: “God, help me out. I want to give generously. Show me what my ‘first and best’ is.”
Think about what you want to give, it may mean that you want to commit to more than just this opportunity as you may have a figure you wish to give over the year and it will start with the first fruits offering.
However, in all that you decide ensure whatever you give, it is given in faith and joy!