I love all kinds of different music. Well, almost all kinds. Sorry to the fans out there but I don’t do country music. I’m from the south and talk with a twang of sorts but I do not enjoy listening to it in music. But there is one song I remember from my high school days that has been on my mind this week. Maybe that’s because this Sunday is Commitment Sunday where we celebrate our pledges and financial commitments made to the church. [Admittedly, it is only this one line that is relevant – the rest of the song is about a girl…]
I gotta little change in my pocket going jingle lingle ling – Georgia Satellites
I remember when I was studying the Bible for the first time seriously as an adult (it was Disciple Bible Study before I entered seminary) and I read all of the places in the Old Testament where God called the Israelites to offer God first fruits from the harvest as a way to honor God with our very best. (Deuteronomy 26:1-11Verse page” data-hasqtip=”3″ aria-describedby=”qtip-3″> , Nehemiah 10:35-39) That’s when I began to understand that stewardship was not just about giving God our money. It is about using something we value very much in order to value something even more important in our life – God. By giving God our very best and most prized possession, we show how much we love God. And how willing we are to be obedient to God. Not an easy lesson for most of us.
But it’s not only giving back to God a prized possession, it’s giving our very best. God calls for first fruits when giving our most prized possession was from our harvest. Think about it- you work so very hard for so very long to raise the harvest – whatever it is. When the crop finally ripens to harvest time, how badly you can’t wait to partake or sell that which you have labored over. But God asks that we offer the tithe out of that first harvest. Not wait until the end with whatever is left over.
I think God asked that of us humans because God knows how we operate. We will take care of the things we like most or the things that put pressure on us first and then we will give away that which is left over. Inevitably God gets the change in our pocket if we are not intentional.
But what has always amazed me since I first understood and began to practice first fruits giving to God is that whenever I give my tithe at the beginning of the paycheck, inevitably we have all that we need. God’s theology of abundance is that simple. Honor God with your best, and God honors you for your faithfulness.
For those who approach their giving to the church from the standpoint of giving what they can out of what they have left at the end of the month, I challenge you to try for 3 months to tithe 10% out of the top of your monthly income. Yes, even over the holidays. And see what happens. Because the God who blesses us with so very much deserves so much more than the change leftover in our pocket. God deserves our very best.
Grace and Peace,