The principles of tithing, the firstborn, and firstfruits are biblical and eternal. Aligning your life and actions with them can't help but bring God's blessing.
We find a great example of this in Genesis 4:
And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but he did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell (v. 3-5).
Many people have wondered for years: Why did God respect Abel's offering but not Cain and his offering? The Word makes it a point to tell us very clearly that the offering Abel brought was the firstborn of his flock. But it doesn't say that Cain brought the firstfruits of his crops. Notice that the passage quoted above says, "and in the process of time." In other words, Cain grew his crops and then, "in the process of time," got around to bringing an offering to the Lord. The implication is that he didn't bring his firstfruits to the Lord. Could that be why God did not respect Cain's offering? I believe so.
Abel, on the other hand, brought the firstborn of his flock to the Lord, and God accepted his offering.
There is a lesson in this for us. God is looking at our hearts when we give. And when we give of the first of our firstfruits or our tithe, God receives and respects that offering. The tithe is your firstfruit. The tithe must be first! The Bible is clear on this matter:
And all the tithe of the land, whether the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is holy to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30).
Just as the firstborn and the firstfruits belong to God, so does the tithe belong to him. But like the other two, it must be first. As he declared, "all the tithe of the land...is the Lord's."
I once heard Mike Hayes, Pastor of Covenant Church in Carrollton, Texas, use an excellent illustration of this truth.
Now, if I had 10 one-dollar bills to give away and asked two specific questions about them, I suspect most Christians would get the first one right but would scratch their heads at the second one.
Imagine, I've given you 10 one-dollar bills and laid them out on a table in front of you. Now, my first question is, "How much is the tithe on this money?" I think everyone would get that one right. The tithe on 10 dollars is, obviously, one dollar. But here's the more difficult question. Which one is the tithe? "Obviously, the first one," you might say. But which one is the first one? Is it the one on your left or is the one on your right?
Let's say you get paid on Thursday and immediately pay all your bills, then buy groceries and then write your tithe check before going to church. Have you tithed the first of your increase? No. Is it possible to give a full 10 percent and still not be tithing in accordance with God's principal? Absolutely.
For understanding, let's go back to one-dollar bills. Which dollar is the tithe? Let me tell you how to decide that. The tithe is the first one spent or given. The first money that you spend represents your firstfruits. In other words, when you get paid, the first check you write should be the tithe check.
Is it really an act of faith to give 10 percent after all your other bills are paid? What does it say about our priorities when we willingly pay everybody else first and then see if there is enough left give God his portion?
The first portion we spend should be the tithe. That is the firstfruit. And according Exodus 13, that first portion is the redemptive portion. The first portion has the power to redeem the rest. This is the essence of Paul's message in Romans 11:16:
For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
There are so many blessings that go along with tithing, but it is the principle of putting God first and the principle of faith that initiates the blessings. It is the trigger.
The first portion is the portion that redeems the rest. The first portion carries the blessing. That's why you don't want to give the first portion to the mortgage company. Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians fear the IRS and the mortgage company more than they fear God.
Another way to say it is, we respect them more than we respect the Lord. The tither says, "Yes, I have a stack of bills here, but I'm going to give to God first and trust him to bless the rest of the ‘lump’."
Please keep in mind, I'm not proclaiming the truth about tithing because God needs money; I'm delivering these truths to you for your sake. God doesn't need you to give – you need to be blessed!
Excerpted from "The Blessed Life" by Robert Morris. Copyright ©2002 Gateway Church. Published by Regal Books. Watch Robert all this week on LIFE Today.