“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” – Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV).
In most of the old African household there was a tradition where once the day’s dish was uncovered the best portion of food was first passed on to the head of the house, before the rest dug in. For a father this was recognition of his leadership and pleasing to him. Though one may express concern about children coming last, this tradition in a way made them realize life has a pecking order. Children, once they grew up into adulthood and set up their own households too, the best portion was first passed on to them before the rest had a feast.
Creaming off the first and best portion to a leader was not just limited to African households but also features a lot in the way God deals with man. The Lord assigned his people to take care of the priests first before anything. “You are to give them the first fruits of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep, for the Lord your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the Lord’s name always” (Deuteronomy 18:4-5). This tradition followed up to Nehemiah’s time. “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree. As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there” (Nehemiah 10:35-36).
In the kingdom of God, there is a pecking order, quite obvious, “But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor 15:23). The Apostle James encouraged believers, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18).
Now, as we know, in some of our old African households the best portion was often first creamed off for the head more out of duty. In fact, the members might not have had any meaningful relation with the father at all. Yet, when after a rich harvest, we cull off the best, gather it and take it to the Lord’s house, we do it not just out of a sense of duty, but gratefulness for the Lord’s blessings upon us. Just as one writer put it, “the first fruits offering opens things up to work in our favor on the income side of the equation. Our barns are filled so there will be provision there when we need it. And our vats are overflowing as more and more income comes our way over time!’ How about taking up God on that!
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, I thank you for all the blessings in my life, and help me honor you with the first fruit, to receive your protection and be blessed even more, this I pray in Jesus’s name.