Firstfruits and Regular Stewardship
Read Psalm 51:10-12. Where does our giving to God come from? What is the basis for your stewardship?
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University is a wonderful program designed to get personal finances under control and to get out from under the slavery of debt. His favorite Bible passage regarding personal finances and debt is Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”
Ramsey firmly believes that stewardship and giving offerings is one of the utmost duties of the Christian. To show the importance, the first line of the monthly budget is your tithe to your congregation.
That begs the question: What is a tithe? Read Leviticus 27:30-32. Is it ten percent or thirty percent? Read Tobit 1:6-8. Righteous Tobit worked with a triple tithe in his offerings. Read Numbers 18:20-32. What is the purpose of the tithe?
What do we need to know about stewardship?
First of all, your primary offering should be a firstfruits offering. Read Exodus 34:22. A firstfruits offering, especially during the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), comes from the very beginning of the harvest. The first part belongs to God. This was the difference between Cain and Abel. Read Genesis 4:1-7. Why was Abel’s offering worthy of more honor from God than Cain’s? Read 1 John 3:12.
The first thing with a proper firstfruits offering is that it requires forethought. It requires planning. You can’t just gather stuff together and offer it. A firstfruits offering isn’t considered when you open your wallet because it’s time for the offering. It isn’t a firstfruits offering when a need arises and you respond to the call. These are still offerings, but they don’t follow what God expects from your primary offering.
Read Acts 4:32-37. Are these offerings firstfruits offerings? How can stewardship be abused? Read Acts 5:1-11. What was Ananias and Sapphira’s sin in their offering? Do you ever worry that your offering will cause you to be struck dead?
Secondly, God requires offerings to be done regularly. Read Numbers 28:1-8. The Levitical sacrifice of the holocaust, the whole burnt offering, was done every morning and every evening. It was done regularly to show the Israelites their dependence on God for everything. These offerings were done regularly.
The patriarch Job regularly made offerings on behalf of his children (1:5). He did this because he knew that investing in their faith was more important than giving. Read Luke 19:11-26. In the parable, the master invested of himself into his servants by putting them in charge of part of his treasury. He could have just given them the money, but he wanted to give them a bit of responsibility. However, he takes away what has been given when that responsibility is shirked.
Read Malachi 3:6-12. What is God’s problem with Israelite worship? What is God’s promise for a return to faithful stewardship?
Read Proverbs 3:9-10. As a final thought, we look at this verse and think about to Jesus’ parable in Luke 19. The man who had made ten minas also received the mina hidden in the unfaithful servant’s handkerchief. “To everyone who has, more will be given” (Luke 19:26). “Your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Proverbs 3:10).