Summary: Giving God our leftover time and resources Part 3.
Leftovers For God Part 3: Finances
Several weeks ago I preached the first two parts of this series titled "Leftovers For God." As you may recall, in the first messages I focused on your time and your talents. This morning I will conclude this series by focusing on how we give God our left over finances. As a reminder, our foundational Scripture is found in Matthew 6:19-21 which says "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Where your heart is there will your treasures be also. Whatever it is that you truly believe in, what you truly love and consider important, that is where your heart will be and where your time; talents and resources will be spent. This morning I want you to consider your finances and how you choose to utilize them and if you truly, based on how you utilize your money, are giving God of your first fruits or of your leftovers.
I. First Fruits
Let me explain what I mean by first fruits by looking at a couple of Old Testament scriptures.
"You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God……" Exodus 23:19a (NASB)
"From the first of your dough you shall lift up a cake as an offering; as the offering of the threshing floor so you shall lift it up. From the first of your dough you shall give to the Lord an offering throughout your generations.
In the Old Testament, in acknowledgement of the fact that the land and all of its products were the gift of God to Israel, and in thankfulness for His bounty, all of the first fruits were offered to Him. These were offered in their natural state (fruits, grapes, cereals) or after preparation (musk, oil, flour or dough). After they gave their first fruits, the Israelites were at liberty to use the rest. This was their practice and it was carried forth for many generations. Whatever they received from their labor down to that of making dough, they gave an offering to God of the first fruit, not of what was left over.
In other words they God His first and then they decided how to use the rest.
Two things are addressed in this practice, acknowledgement and thanksgiving. The Israelites understood that everything they received, from their fruit to the dough from which they made their bread was from God. In their giving to God from their first fruits (fruit meaning anything they received) they were acknowledging that God was their source. Because they understood that God was their source, they did not mind giving back to Him what He had provided for them, especially since He would continue to provide more. Consider the child who grows up with not having much. That child when they begin to receive has the tendency to keep everything for themselves. They would give up little since they did not know if they would ever need later what they would give up now. There are people who grew up during the depression era who to this day keep everything they get because during the depression era people were accustomed to doing without anything. The Israelites understood that God was their source, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Whatever they gave back to Him would be minimal compared to what He was providing to them.
The second thing that stands out in their practice of giving to God of their first fruits was their thankfulness. They were truly thankful for what they received, so much so that the first thing they did was give an offering to the one who made it possible for them to have what they have. Also, their thankfulness was very sincere. Have you ever watched the Oscars when someone goes up on stage to receive their reward? What do they do? They normally start of by saying "Thank you" to the academy for choosing them. Next they go through a whole list of people who made it possible for them to win the award. The list would go from their family members, the directors, producers and co-workers to the writers and janitors. The giving of thanks was to ensure two things: first, that people understood that they knew that they did not get to where they were by themselves and secondly, it would ensure that they would get future jobs from those they worked with and for. If a person got on stage and made it only about themselves and their skill, they would have a hard time ever winning the award again or getting the opportunity to work with good people. The Israelites were thankful to God for what He was providing in all areas of their lives everyday. When they gave to God of their first fruits they were assured that the remaining fruit would be blessed and plentiful for what they needed. Although they could do with it what they pleased, they knew they were walking in God’s blessings.