Two weeks ago, I read in a National daily in Nigeria, that there was uproar in a local church because the Pastor requested members of the congregation to pay their first salary of the year- for the month of January as first fruit offering to the Church.
Yesterday, I attended a Church service, where a similar request was made by the Presiding Pastor. He reminded all working members of the need to give their first month full salary to the Church as first fruit, and for Businesses- the profit of the first month. The Pastor reminded them that this is a Biblical injunction.
I must admit that this is the first time that I heard of Churches requesting members to give their first month Salary as first fruit. Before now the injunction in most Churches is that the first Salary of a new Job should be given as first fruit. And I am aware that most practicing Christians do this
In an earlier post, I outlined the main scriptural passages that dwell on the giving of firstfruits. For the benefit of all those that missed that posting, the scriptural passages are reproduced below:
And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the filed….the first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God – Exodus 23 vs. 16 and 19
And thou shall observe the feat of weeks, of the firstfruit of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year end– Exodus 34 vs. 22
The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God – Exodus 34 vs. 26
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye be come unto the land which I gave unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruit of your harvest unto the Priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you:…’ –Leviticus 23 vs. 10
All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, they firstfruit of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them have I given thee…
And whatsoever is first ripe in the land , which they shall bring unto the Lord, shall be thine; every one that is clean in thy house shall ear of it. – Numbers 18 vs. 12-13
And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord , hast given me. And thou shall set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God – Deut. 26 vs. 10
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thy increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine
– Proverbs 3 vs. 9-10
The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thy oil and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him
– Deut 18 vs. 4
But now is Christ risen from death, and become the firstfruits of them that slept – 1 Corinthians 15 vs. 20
Let me start by stating that, from experiences and spiritual revelations, I have come to learn and believe that no man can out give God. Any offering made in righteousness and holiness, will always receive a reward.
Therefore, even if you decide to commit all your earnings or profit to the work of God, in faith, you shall surely receive a reward and God will provide for all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.
Be this as it may, I do not remember that I ever given all my first salary in any new job or all the first month’s salary of year as a firstfruit. I have given out of it, but definitely have never given all. I do not believe there is scriptural injunction for this.
Let us remember that Church doctrines are different from Scriptural injunctions, and in all my decisions I allow my understanding of the Bible to dictate my Christian life, even if this is against popular church opinion.
I believe in firstfruits, but I do not believe all my first salary in a new year or from a new job or all my initial profit in a new business endevaour constitutes firstfruits.
If we study the passages quoted above that dwell on firstfruits, we shall understand clearly that the intention of God in instituting this ordinance are:
– To honour him, as the maker and giver of wealth.
– To ensure that Priests and Levites that are working for him full time, are also honoured and have their material needs provided for.
– To create an atmosphere of Praise and worship in his presence, helping us remember our past years in the wilderness when we lacked, how we cried unto him, and he had delivered us from our afflictions.
– To ensure a continuous flow of income for the expansion of the work of God.
In effect, giving of first fruits is a biblical injunction.
But we need to answer two critical questions, what is a firstfruit and what constitutes first fruits?
Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thy increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine – Proverbs 3 vs. 9-10
The passage above from Proverbs should help us to answer the first question. A firstfruit is best described as the initial gain or profit you derive from every NEW activity that increases you.
Now to the second part of the question- What constitutes firstfruits? Let us study more passages:
And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the filed….the first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God
– Exodus 23 vs. 16 and 19
The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God
– Exodus 34 vs. 26
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye be come unto the land which I gave unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruit of your harvest unto the Priest:
And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you:…’
–Leviticus 23 vs. 10
If we study Proverbs 3 vs. 9-10 in conjunction and in the context of Exodus 34 vs.19, Exodus 34 vs. 26 , and Leviticus 23 vs.10 , then we can reach some conclusions.
In Exodus 34 vs.19, the Bible mentions the ‘first of the firstfruits’ not all the firstfruits; in Exodus 34 vs. 26 the Bible talks again about the ‘first of the firstfruits’ and not all the firstfruits; and lastly in Leviticus 23 vs.10 God demands a’ sheaf’ of the firstfruit of your harvest’ not all the firstfruits of all your harvest.
If we consider this analysis dispassionately, it is clear, unambiguous and obvious that God does not expect us to give him all the firstfruits of our profits (for Businessmen’s), or the first salary (for paid workers), or the first month salary in the new year as some Churches are preaching. This is the biblical truth.
What God expects us to do is to give the BEST of our firstfruits to honour him as the source of all increase. It is not left to the individual to decide what constitutes the ‘best’ or to use the Bible language what you consider as the ‘first’ or a ‘sheaf’ out of your firstfruits.
If you consider 20% or more out of your first salary in a new work or 20% or more out of your initial business profit as the best sheaf out of your firstfruit, so be it. If you consider the whole salary or the whole profit as the ‘best’ ‘first’ or ‘sheaf’ out of the firstfruits, so be it.
But the express injunctions in some Churches that members should give all the first salary in any new work place, in a new year, or all the profit of a new business endeavour as firstfruits, is carnal and definitely has no Scriptural basis.
The truth is that the Spirit of mammon has taken over most of our Churches and various sorts of doctrines are being propagated as the Gospel truth.
In any case, there is no scriptural injunction that defies rationality. Jesus came to carry our burdens and lighten our yokes, not to add to it.
But like I stated earlier, decide what constitutes the ‘first’ or best ‘sheaf’ out of your firstfruits and act according to you faith.
It’s a big one, I know. I read this article a while ago. It challenged my beliefs. You should probably bookmark this page and for future reference. If you have another perspective, please bring it up with a backing of scriptures, let’s discuss. We all must learn to have a scriptural basis for whatever we practice or believe, its that important. Don’t be forced to give anything out of compulsion. Many preachers try to talk money out of ones pocket, ensure you are giving as the scripture says:
Remember this: The one who plants few seeds will have a small harvest. But the one who plants a lot will have a big harvest. Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give. And God can give you more blessings than you need, and you will always have plenty of everything. You will have enough to give to every good work.
– 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Have a great week!
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