It’s a story as old as time itself, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:1-7).
The Lord was concerned that Cain did not see fit to give the Lord the very first portions of his bounty. Cain was angry that the Lord wasn’t satisfied with his gift. So starts the struggle we have been engaged in ever since. Today, the Lord still expects from us our first fruits and we, too often, only give Him the leftovers.
Larry Burkett states, “A verse in Proverbs says that God has asked for our first fruits: the first and best of all that we receive. A farmer first sets aside a portion from the harvest for seed to plant the following year. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have another crop. As Christians, our tithes are like seeds. Clearly, if we give to God the first part of everything that comes into our possession, we are honoring Him. It is an attitude of giving. And it is only by honoring the Lord from the first part of all we have that God can take control”
Mr. Burkett speaks of Proverbs 3:9-10, “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.” It’s God’s way of saying, ‘trust me, I will provide.’ By giving Him the first fruits of all of our gain, we show him that trust, and we honor Him in our giving.
And, of course, God would never expect from us anything that He was not prepared to give. In giving us His only Son to die and rise again, He gave the very best of what He had so that we might prosper. From 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Scripture says that we are “obliged” to give God our very best because of all that He has done for us. Nehemiah 10:35 says as much, “We obligate ourselves to bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord;”
Back in the time of Nehemiah, God’s people were ranchers and farmers. Their livelihood came from the field. Today, we are much more likely to earn our living in other ways. Today, instead of receiving a few shekels for a sheep our a measure of wheat, we’re apt to find our income in the form of a paycheck for services rendered.
The principal remains the same, however. God expects us to honor Him with the first parts of our income in the form of tithes (a set portion) and not from the leftovers. He wants to show us His faithfulness to us for the faith we have put in Him by filling our barns with plenty.
Am I saying that first fruits are a magic path to riches? Of course not. What I am saying is that, God will provide for you. Even if you give of yourself by giving God the very first of your gains, you will find yourself provided for. If you haven’t tried it before, that is your challenge.
God was trying to teach Cain a valuable lesson. He wanted Cain to know that if he didn’t put His full faith and trust into Him, then evil would have an easier path to his heart. Partial surrender is really no surrender at all.
It is natural for us in our fallen nature to want to keep the very best of what we have and try to appease God by giving our least. But this only serves as an illustration of the shaky faith we have put into our Creator. We’ll trust Him with the little things, but the other things we’ll claim for ourselves so that we might maintain self-control.
Challenge yourselves to give your first fruits. See how God will reward you for the faith you have placed in Him. Trust in Him to provide for you and to care for you in a way that only He can. Live for the reward of heaven and do not put your hope in the things of this world. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, forgive us for not trusting You with our first fruits and lead us to a greater understanding of Your provision. Help us along the path to righteousness and, by Your Holy Spirit, guide us to faith in You. Amen.