As we strive to honor and glorify the Lord with our lives, I want to encourage you to examine your worship through your first fruits and tithing. Do you know how much of your first fruits giving to the Lord is (as a percentage) compared to your total income? If you don’t, you should. Here’s why. Approximately 15% of everything Christ said is related to the topic of how we are to handle the resources entrusted to us, (more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined) and nearly half of Jesus’ 38 parables deal with money or material possessions.
The Lord will accomplish His purposes with or without our participation, but how we manage and/or use our resources has both earthly and eternal ramifications.
There are numerous verses in the OT that speak of “first fruits and tithing”. Tithe means 10%. The good news of the gospel is that when Christ came He did not replace the law, but fulfilled it (Matt 5:17-20). In doing so Christians no longer live under the law restricted in legalism, but now live under grace by faith (Gal. 3:23-24); so tithing is not a matter of having to give, but through transformed hearts, it has become a matter of desiring to give as an expression of gratitude.
What is the difference between first fruits and tithes? The primary purpose of first fruits is to serve as a reminder of God’s ownership and sovereignty. Everything we have comes from Him (Exodus 13: 1-2 & 8-9) so we gladly bring our first fruits each week because of what He has provided. Tithing is the benchmark or measuring stick we are to use to determine the amount of our first fruits and it is also the vehicle the Lord put into place for His will and work to be accomplished through His pastors, worship facilities, Bible studies, missions outreach, etc. (Num. 18:20-32).
When Christ removed the legality of the “tenth” He did not eliminate the need for “tithing” but said giving would become a matter of the heart (2nd Corinthians 9:7). However, there is value in using the tithe (think percentage) as a measurement for determining our first fruits. Using the scriptures to develop a proper perspective encourages wise behavior and godly decision making. While it does not guarantee a life without struggles, it can help us avoid some of life’s pitfalls and enables us to navigate every challenge responsibly.
If you do not know what your first fruits giving to the Lord is (as a percentage) compared to your total income, take a few minutes with a calculator and figure it out. Whether it is 1%, 10%, 15% or more, you would be wise to find out what your number is. It will reveal how your priorities are aligned with God’s word. If you would like to know how much you’ve given year-to-date for the ongoing work of the Lord at Wellington, you can call the church office (859-219-3100) and request that information.
As we approach the celebration of the incarnation of Christ our Savior, let us grow up in the faith (Ephesians 4:15) by exercising biblical discernment and recognizing how “earthly things” can provide temporary joy but a fading satisfaction. On the other hand, spiritual maturity rejoices in the opportunity to be generous as an expression of love and gratitude for our Lord and His calling upon our lives to do His work.
To put a different spin on a popular advertising slogan, “Give Responsibly” during this approaching Christmas season and make sure the Lord is honored in all that you do.
It is a joy for me to serve our Lord together with you!
Elder Serving with Finance Committee