Sometimes God asks us to trust in Him before we can see Him act. Giving is a prime example. The entire picture of the biblical idea of generous giving is summed up in the words, “first fruits giving.” The idea comes from an agrarian society which is firmly rooted in and connected to the farming industry.
Imagine that you are going to enjoy a fresh tomato from your vine to go on top of that juicy grilled burger next summer. In my life I just go to the grocery store and buy my tomato. In biblical times you actually had to grow one. It starts with the preparation of the soil many months before any fruit is produced. Seeds are planted. Seeds are watered. Seeds are waited upon. Sprouts shoot up. Birds are kept away. Weeds are controlled. Plants are watered and fertilized and watched. Plants grow. Buds form. Plants are pruned for a more abundant harvest. Plants continue to be watered, weeds continue to be controlled, pests continue to be monitored and fought. Finally fruit forms and begins to ripen.
Note that this process takes months to develop. A tomato doesn’t just show up in a day or two like we would imagine in our immediately gratified society. What would one eat while waiting for the tomato to go from seed to fruit? Last year’s crops, if there was enough. Supplies are running short by the time the fruit begins to ripen. Will you have enough food to get you into the new crops that are currently ripening on the vine, or will you go without for a week or two before the harvest is ready?
Finally, the first fruits are ready! You’ve been nurturing these plants for months and now the tomatoes are beginning to ripen into that delicious red hue! You are ready to take your first bite! It’s an exciting time to be sure. But, it is also a stressful time as you count your harvest and hope that there will be enough to provide for your family for the entire year to come so that you can continue through the next crop cycle.
In this exciting and stress-filled time God steps in and says, ‘Bring me your first fruits.’ It is the ultimate sign of trust. I have a decision to make now. I can eat my first fruits, or collect those tomatoes and can my world famous red sauce, or I can trust and obey God’s way by giving away the very fruit that means sustenance and provision for me and my family. To give the first fruits is to show total trust in God. Anything could happen to the rest of the crops. A hail storm, insect plague, drought, or other calamity could strike and I would be left without food. When I give the first fruits I trust that God will provide. That can be a hard move to make. It goes counter to my instincts. It goes counter to my financial planner. It goes counter to our immediately gratified culture. It shows incredible faith and trust in God as the ultimate provider.
Give it a try sometime. Give to God first and to credit cards, savings, college funds, grocery stores, internet providers, phone bills, and entertainment later. Show God your trust and watch Him provide abundantly! Wait an extra week or so for that slice of tomato and the juicy burger…you’ve got to wait for the beef and bun anyway since you’ve given your first calf and bushel of wheat as well! What great trust you have in God! He will provide.