“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” –Proverbs 3:9
In his latest video, Dan Stevers highlights the importance of giving God our first and our best, focusing mostly on the story of Cain and Abel. “The concept of firstfruits extends to every aspect of our lives,” he writes. “God doesn’t accept leftovers; God must be first.”
The video contains excerpts from Robert Morris’ popular book, The Blessed Life: Unlocking the Rewards of Generous Living, which is a stirring exploration of the power of generosity. In the book itself, Morris begins the first chapter by explaining that the “principle of firstfruits” is really the key to understanding Christian stewardship as a whole:
The principle of the firstfruits is very, very powerful. I have heard it said that any first thing given is never lost, and any first thing not given is always lost. In other words, what we give to God, we don’t lose because God redeems it for us. But what we withhold from God, we will lose. Jesus echoed this principle when He said: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:25, NIV).
The first belongs to God. We find this principle all through God’s Word. We can give God the first of our time. We can give Him the first of our finances. That’s what tithing really is—giving our first to God. It’s saying, “God, I’m going to give you first and trust You to redeem the rest”…The first portion is the redemptive portion. In other words, when the first portion is given to God, the rest is redeemed.
Churches typically engage in these conversations when it comes to tithing. But although tithing is both a foundation and fountainhead of Christian stewardship (economic and otherwise), the “firstfruits principle” begins when we accept Christ not only as our Savior but as our Lord, submitting ourselves in obedience to God’s plan, calling, and direction across all areas of life.
At a fundamental level, the upside-down economics of the Gospel transforms our perspectives and reorients our hearts, minds, and imaginations. When acted upon, it directs the very work of our hands, and in turn, impacts the fruits of our labor. It’s why tithing is such a crucial sticking point on this subject: it forces us to take action in obedience and assume the (seeming) risks of following Jesus. It forces us to reach beyond our earthly circumstances and pseudo-rationalistic calculus (“give to get”) and reconnects the material to the transcendent, the predictable to the mysterious.
Starting from here and going onward into all other spheres, putting first things first alters the entire economic order. As temptations toward materialism, consumerism, greed, envy, and lust continue to manifest, and as our blessings of economic prosperity continue to be taken as excuses for indulging these temptations, firstfruits obedience and sacrifice offers a strong buffer against the love of man, prodding society back toward the love of God.
In all that we do, from our finances to our families to our creative service to our cultural and political engagement, let us remember that the source of all stewardship starts with the Lord of Lords.