So What's the Deal on First Fruits?

Ever had a burn out 'paying' tithes? Actually I don't care that much for the term 'paying tithe', even though the word tithe is a solid Bible term. My preference is first fruits. I think this area of teaching is one of the most misunderstood by some groups today. Let's see if we can get a fix on what 'first fruits' really represents.

This is Bible Study DU015 - So what's the deal on first fruits?

Here's snippets of the Scriptures most often used for the tithe: "Will a man rob God ... You are cursed with a curse ... 'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,' says the Lord of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'" (Mal 3:8-10)

The struggle folk often have is wondering where a tithe fits in the new covenant. Actually it doesn't fit, not in the sense of it being a law that must be kept. No one has to tithe to go to heaven. Next we hear, 'But wouldn't NOT tithing put us under a curse?' Never. The Law of Moses is not the instrument of righteousness for the new covenant. Jesus alone is our righteousness.

Yet, the apostle says that the Law of Moses is good if we learn to use it lawfully. Using it lawfully speaks of viewing the Law through the lens of the new covenant. In another place Paul said that the curse on the Law has been removed in Christ.

But what does that mean in regard to the tithe? Paul said that the curse that is placed upon the entire Law of Moses has been removed in Christ, not simply the curse placed upon the tithe. If the curse has been removed, what then remains? What remains is the blessing. (If you understand it properly.)

Let's see snippets of another portion. In this case we will look at the term first fruits. The sage said, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes ... Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine." (Pro 3:5- 10)

Perhaps the question we need to ask is, 'Does honoring the Lord from the first of our produce change in the new covenant?' Is this some outmoded promise that has no application to believers today?

Good questions. The issue differs quite a bit in the new covenant. Actually the teaching on first fruits is simply a way for God to teach His people about honor and about giving. Remember what the Lord said about giving; "It is better to give than to receive." There are reasons for this.

The point always comes back to honoring the Lord from one's heart. This is what the first fruits is teaching. The apostolic writer said that in the new covenant, God places His laws into our minds and writes them on our hearts. (Heb 8:10)

Listen to these New Testament Scriptures:

"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together and running over. For by YOUR STANDARD OF MEASURE it will be measured to you in return." (Luke 6:38. Caps for emphasis only. Notice how the Lord says our 'blessings' are measured by our own measure.)


"The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." (Gal 6:6,7)

And again:

"This I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. EACH ONE MUST DO JUST AS HE HAS PURPOSED IN HIS HEART, NOT GRUDGINGLY OR UNDER COMPULSION, FOR GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed." (2Co 9:6-8)

What I want you to key in on are the words in caps. Our giving must always be in accordance with our heart. Our giving is never to be done grudgingly, or under compulsion.

See where the struggle comes in? Spiritual laws don't swing back and forth according to the covenants. Spiritual laws are always in place. The great difference in the new covenant is that the Holy Spirit teaches us how to give, where to give, and when to give. It will always be a thing of the heart. If it is not in your heart to give, then don't give.

However, you also need to be forewarned. Don't expect the blessings of the giver to come to your house if you have not learned to be a giver yourself. So ask yourself these questions; 'Am I having all sufficiency in everything?' Or, 'Do I have an abundance for every good deed?' 'Or am I living on barely get along avenue?" Keep in mind what Paul said about not being deceived.

Let me share just one example among thousands. A young couple in our church gave a recent testimony. They were into tithing on a regular basis. But things were slipping. They would wait until everything else was paid, then they would write a check to Christian Challenge. But even at that, some times they would hold on to their tithe checks for awhile just to make sure things balanced out right.

Take to heart that we rarely ever speak of tithing or first fruits from the pulpit. My take on this is that life itself will teach you this truth. Here is what the brother shared with the congregation. Their ears perked up over something that Nathan or I had said by way of a passing remark.

They went home and talked about how they were not honoring the Lord, as they should. That is when they made a decision. From now on the very first check they would write would be their first fruits check, and it would be on the gross, not on whatever was left after taxes. (I'm simply relating a testimony. Not telling you to do anything.)

Guess what? They got so excited. The very next week the blessings began to roll in. I am serious. They started naming the things that began to happen to their finances.

So, why am I telling you all this? It is because the Lord has placed it on my heart. I'm an old warrior of the cross. I know what works and what will not work. And believe me, giving first fruits to the Lord from a heart of joy works every time.

Now, I am going to say something that I'll say with a bit of reluctance. The reason is because I don't want anyone on this forum to think that I am making an appeal for anything. However, we have a number of members on this forum who do not attend church anywhere, and most likely do very little about first fruit offerings.

What the Bible teaches is that we should always sow with a view to righteousness. Jesus Himself told us not to judge by appearance, but to judge with righteous judgment. This means that you must let the Lord lead you in what and where to give. And this includes what I am about to share.

So here is an idea to grasp. There are two forums that plant seed into your lives on a continual basis, Lois Gibson's Spiritual Abuse site, and Christian Challenge International. Lois works full time and carries the major expenses to keep up her site. And you should know by now all the work that goes into what Christian Challenge does via the internet and otherwise.

This is only for those who do not presently have a home church, unless the Lord guides you to do something extra. Once again, I am not making an appeal. I simply want to share with you what the Lord has placed on my heart. Become a giver. You don't have to concern yourself with Spiritual Abuse or with Christian Challenge. These are only considerations. Yet both places are excellent places to sow seed to the kingdom.

I hope this teaching reaches your heart. It has been my experience that most financial problems that believers walk through come back to their own billfold. If you are not a giver, don't expect to be a receiver. No, the Lord is not going to let you starve. But why struggle over finances when you know the thing to do is honor the Lord.

One caution is needed. Once again, if you can't do it from your heart, certainly don't do it out of the flesh, or out of fear, or out of condemnation. Pray about it. See what the Lord would have you to do.

Please meditate on this study before jumping in with a rebuttal. All a rebuttal will do is tell us where your heart really is. There is a lesson to be learned. Will you learn it?

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

This study was originally shared on January 6, 2007. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.

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Page added January 7, 2007


August 23, 1997
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