“Bring the best of the first fruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exo 34:26)
When you bring a gift to a king, you would think twice before presenting something substandard. Just as we would honor an earthly king, so we should honor the King of Kings.
In this instance, not only are we asked to present the best but also that our offering should come from the first fruits. As God begins to bless us, we may need to consider how we can reserve the best for Him. That may take many forms depending on what the blessing may be. But one thing is for sure—only the best of the first fruits is appropriate to give. It also reminds us where the blessing has come from.
Quick Prayer: I want to reserve the best for You, Lord. Teach me what that really means. Amen.
“But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.” (2 Sam 24:24)
A sacrifice is not unsurprisingly meant to be a sacrifice. A sacrifice is nothing if it costs you nothing. A sacrifice is not an offering designed to appease a capricious deity. Our standing before God is unquestionable if we are washed in the blood of Jesus.
Yet sometimes it is good for us to give sacrificially to temper our own desires. Just as we train our bodies into a submitted state, we need to train our appetites and desires to keep them submitted to God.
Quick Prayer: Please accept my sacrifice, Lord. Amen.
“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” (2 Cor 8:12)
When is a gift acceptable to God? It is an important question because there is no point in giving unless it is acceptable. Does the amount matter? No, God is interested in two things.
First, is it given willingly? When we give, it should be cheerfully and with a willing heart, not under duress or for selfish motives. Second, and I think somewhat surprisingly, it is to be given according to what one has.
It is not to be given in expectation of what we may receive or to be given according to what one does not have. We are called to give out of the harvest—out of the blessing we have already received.
Quick Prayer: I am willing to give from what I have already received from Your hand. Amen.
“According to their ability they gave to the treasury for this work 61,000 darics of gold, 5,000 minas of silver and 100 priestly garments.” (Ezr 2:69)
The seemingly eternal question: how much should I give? If we have moved on from, “Should I give?” to the next stage, the question remains. We are called to give “according to our ability.” Each one of us has been blessed in different ways and with different measure. We are to give according to our resources, yet we all have a part to play.
It is not the amount or even the proportion, but we are all able and willing to be a part of God’s work and a reflection of His heart. Look at what God has already blessed you with. Decide in your thankful heart what to give, and give cheerfully according to your ability.
Quick Prayer: Thank You that You ask me to give according to what You have already given me. Amen.
“Then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.” (Deu 14:25–26)
Here is a Scripture that proponents of a legalistic approach to tithing may want to overlook. It says to take what you were going to give and go and buy wine, great food, and whatever else you want and have a great party before the Lord.
We have lost something of the heart of God if this makes us slightly uncomfortable. It makes me a bit uncomfortable. But why? It reflects the heart and desire of God to be joyful before Him, and He enjoys seeing us blessed. I think this is the kind of party where Jesus implored us to go to the highway and byways and invite the unlovely and socially unacceptable. Now that is what church is all about.
Quick Prayer: Thank You that sometimes a sacrifice is to be shared and enjoyed. Amen.