On the Corner

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On the CornerWatch it! I’m going to talk to you about tithing.

Ooops … I should never have mentioned the “T” word. For sure, I’m going to lose my readers. Can you stand it? Will you continue the exercise with me? C’mon! Stay with it.

One of the seven Jewish feasts celebrated throughout the year is called the feast of Firstfruits. It comes at the end of Passover-the first Sunday, the first day of the week. During Jesus’ life it happened to be the day of His resurrection. We call it Easter.

Did you notice that firstfruits was written as one word? I like that. It is a single, unitary concept to which we must give meaning in our lives. It can’t be ignored.

The Jew is required to bring to God the first fruits out of the ground in the spring harvest. These are the best crops-the choicest grain-the most lovely fruit-the first born of the healthy stock. The gift of the firstfruits signified that all of the harvest belonged to God. God wanted the best. He did not demand that all be given, but He wanted a token.

Throughout the New Testament, we read that Jesus was God’s gift of His firstfruits. With that the reciprocal nature of giving and receiving became evident. As we give our best to God, He returns to us magnificent gifts a thousandfold.

Often, we fail to see the relationship of the gift to Christ. In many ways, the gift symbolizes Christ. To neglect giving is to neglect what the gift stands for.

Somehow, many of us tend not to celebrate the feast of firstfruits in our lives. You might say: “Well, I’m not harvesting much grain these days.” No, neither am I. But both of us still have first fruits we can give to God.

Most Salvationists don’t do a good job of giving much of anything, let alone the firstfruits. We just sail on, giving the same small portion each year. We’re quick to complain if we don’t get our cost of living increase in our salary, but somehow it rarely gets connected to our monetary tithing. People seem to take great pride in pulling out a buck and placing it in the offering plate when, in reality, the notion of firstfruits is completely ignored.

And what about the gifts of our time.

Almost anything gets in the way of worshiping God. Major and minor sports events, exciting television drama, social activities or hangnails seem to be adequate excuses for failing to deliver the firstfruits of our self to God. Then, sometimes, when guilt pushes us to a service, there certainly doesn’t seem to be much “choice” fruit evident.

Some tell me they don’t attend church because they need to spend time with the family. Okay …but what kind of time? Does the family convene for devotions-or even to relate to one another? I suspect not. I suspect each member of the family goes his or her own way, and the time is used for independent activity rather than family time.

God does not require us to give it all. He only wants the firstfruits. This is the way He has asked us to represent our love for Him-to give our best.

Him and her to whom much is given-much is required.

That’s a truism. The orchards of our lives provide a magnificent crop. We are wealthy beyond measure. To refuse to give the firstfruits of our resources is to turn our back on the firstfruits of God’s gift to us-His Son. God does not give us minimum dimensions of our orchard. The firstfruits of the poor are equal to those of the rich.

In this country everybody is rich. God requires us to reveal to Him how much we love Him as we relate to Him with the gifts of the firstfruits of our lives.

Now-will the ushers please come forward.

The signup sheets for League of Mercy are in the lobby.

Prayer meeting is Tuesday night.

The visitation group meets at 7:00 on Monday for prayer and then visits in the neighborhood.

“As we give our best to God, He returns to us magnificent gifts a thousand fold.”

 


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