Christian educators not only get to share the priceless knowledge about God’s presence, but also can guide people to respond to God through an essential pattern of “first fruits living.”
What is “first fruits living?” It is giving to God the first and the best of what God has given to us, and managing all the rest according to God’s own generosity. What a glorious way to live! Here are some Bible texts you can use to teach the practice and six reasons why first fruits living is so important – because it:
Applies to all our resources and relationships as gifts from God (2 Cor. 9:6-8). We put God first each day through prayer with God. We put God first each week in corporate worship of God. We put God first every time we receive income by giving a percentage of it to God’s work, off the top. We put God first in our social life by having fellowship with other Christians. All these dimensions keep us mindful of God’s primacy in our lives. It forms the basic fabric of our living in whole-life dedication.
Grounds us in gratitude for the bounty we have already received (Dt. 26:5-11). Generous giving always begins with God. So when we give the first fruits of our time, money, assets and passions, we celebrate God’s faithful acts and the opportunity to be involved in God’s ministries.
Becomes a daily pattern that shapes a lifelong way of living (Mt. 6:24-33). We cannot make both God and money our first priority; we must choose. When we choose God, our trust in God works to calm our anxieties about having enough of what is necessary to sustain us.
Counteracts the god of consumerism (Mt. 6:19-31). “He’s worth a million dollars,” people say, as if a person’s assets equal his or her worth. But we are children of God, no matter how much or how little we own. When we practice first fruits living and simplify our life style, we are freed-up from the endless race for more money and things.
Teaches us how to live as God’s first fruits of the new creation (James 1:18). It’s not just that we give our first fruits; it’s also the way that we live that can be the first fruits of God’s new creation. We do this by being bold “entrepreneurs of the gospel,”1 returning to God the best of who we are.
Points us back continually to God’s grace (2 Cor. 9:11-15). Beyond what we give to God, we seek to manage “all the rest” that God has given us according to God’s own generosity. So we become God’s agents, generously sharing in natural response to God’s amazing activity in the world.
Written 9/2011 for iTeach newsletter for Christian educators
1 = Lynn Miller, Firstfruits Living, 88.
Think About It:
* Where have you personally experienced God’s amazing generosity?
* How could you practice first fruits living in any aspect of your life and teach it to others?
Betsy Schwarzentraub is a stewardship author and writer and former Director of Stewardship at the General Board of Discipleship.
A Christian View of Money: Celebrating God’s Generosity, by Mark Vincent. Available at http://www.cokesbury.com
Afire With God: Becoming Spirited Stewards, by Betsy Schwarzentraub. Available at http://www.cokesbury.com
Enough: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity, by Adam Hamilton. Available at http://www.cokesbury.com
Firstfruits Living: Giving God Our Best, by Lynn A. Miller Available at http://www.cokesbury.com