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“The First Fruit”

I would suppose, as most would, I have a biased opinion of my Father. He was a very wise man and always correct in his thinking. My Father never had great material wealth or possession, but he was never without resource. All through my growing years he would pass down his wisdom in judgment of my action, or correction, and instruction in that which I wished to do. Along with that guidance I from time to time recall things he had said. Today I ponder two of his comments which come more to life as I travel on. One is that when it comes to giving to the Lord, it’s the first fruits of our labor that are to be returned to Him. If we are faithful to give unto the Lord he will be just as faithful to provide for all our needs. The other is that if you can’t manage 10,000 dollars then you can’t manage 1,000,000 dollars either. I have set out these many years since proving both these statements to be true. I have neglected the Lord and found myself in times of want. I have been faithful and found myself in times of plenty. Both times living on the same income. I’ve also learned that more money is not the solution to not enough money. I have lived on greater income with less than I now have. I have come to learn that these things my Father has told me hold spiritual truth at their root as my Father was a spirit led man.

The foundation of this spiritual truth I believe is found in the Book of Geneses. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) Here in the garden man was given stewardship over God’s creation. My first thoughts were what a wonderful gift. Has anyone given you a world lately? No? God did. True this is my Father’s world but we have been given charge of it. It is ours to care for and this is a tremendous responsibility. For the most part we have failed and now we are soon to reap the rewards of our exploitation of this our Father’s world. Yet in spite of our neglect the earth remains bountiful but every farmer knows that a portion must be returned to the earth for it to yield. But this is not just common sense, or a physical law, but a reflection of a higher spiritual law. For every reward a portion must be returned to the source for it to yield further. Any business man knows and must live by this concept. But this was first taught in the Bible which tells me it was God’s idea, His wisdom, and only by that shall we profit. “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.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)

I qualify this law in the words our Lord taught in the Parable of the Talents. “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ’And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14-30)

We are then to invest that which we have been given from the Lord and return a portion for the Kingdom work of the Lord. “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) For all that there is belongs to the Lord Creator of the heavens and the earth. We for now have been given charge of it but soon He shall return and that which we have returned to Him as a measure of our love for the Lord shall also be a measure of our reward.   This is our offering by which we shall profit. “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” (Acts 4:32)

The tithe is described in the Book of Numbers as a portion to be set aside for the Levites. (Numbers 18:20‑32) The tribe of Levi was responsible for the care of the priesthood and in charge of worship for the Israelites.   Today I feel in the Christian faith that the Church, as in the facility and ministry, is the purpose for our tithe. We are responsible to maintain a place for our Christian fellowship and outreach. This is important to say the least and it requires money. But I have found truth that if one commits the first tenth to the Lord He is faithful to make the other nine tenths sufficient.

We must remember that our tithe is in direct relationship to our stewardship. We are to commit our time and talents as well as our financial resource. We have each be given time and talent. Should we not commit these also to our Lord then each shall also be cut short and be fruitless. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:1-8)

If we are to profit, if we expect to be cared for in His providence, if we expect to receive reward in the Kingdom Of God, then we must give our tithes and offering. He only asks for a tenth of our first fruits for the furtherance of His ministry and our all for his service. What better investment is there? What better reward could there be? Is it not a small measure of our love in the Light Of His? “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34-36)

 

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

November 29, 1998

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