Lent – Day 23

Can You Be Trusted?

sacrifice-brings-forth-blessingsIn yesterday’s reflection we mentioned two types of offering; a tithe (to give 10% of what you earn) and a Sabbath offering (to give 1 day in every 7 to God). Both require a measure of faith. To give 10% requires faith that the 90% will be enough to live on & resting for one day a week requires faith that you can fit all the work which must be done into the remaining six days. But there’s another type of offering in the Old Testament which requires a very different level of faith.

Exodus 23 commands the Jews to give a ‘first-fruits’ offering. So as they start the harvest they are to bring what they gather/harvest first and use it to celebrate the harvest they’re about to undertake. They’re told, ‘before you’ve actually harvested the crops, have a party with the first-fruits’ – put another way, ‘before you even know if the harvest is a good one, celebrate it in faith’. Give the first part of the crop you harvest, even before you know what the whole harvest will be like. That’s very different to the tithe, which effectively says ‘when you know what you’ve earned, calculate 10% and give it away’. A first-fruits offering is a commitment made in advance, and made in faith, before you even know what the whole is going to be; but you give it anyway, because in giving it you’re demonstrating your faith and you are celebrating & giving thanks for what is to follow. There’s something very significant about the offering made in faith ahead of knowing what you really have to give. God promises to honour that faith & generosity:

‘Honour the Lord with your wealth and the first part of your harvest.Then your barns will be full of grain, and your barrels will be overflowing with wine. – Proverbs 3:9-10 ERV

Notice that there’s no measurement in this verse – it doesn’t say how much to give the Lord, just that you give your first-fruits. In response to you giving your first-fruits, you will be blessed (but you have to give first). As we mentioned in yesterday’s reflection, God promises to generously reward our generosity.

‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!’ – Malachi 3:10 NLT

Just before this verse God accuses them of robbing Him by not giving what’s required of them – He essentially says they’ve been holding back. But now He says ‘test me on this – try it – and I will bless you so much more than you can imagine’. But they had to give first in order to receive the further blessing.

One final example. We should all know the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. Notice that the disciples had to demonstrate their faith in Jesus in order for the miracle to happen. Jesus blessed the little food they had, but at the point He told them to hand it out it was still just five loaves & two fish. They had to give it away in order for it to increase. They had to act in faith, believing that Jesus would do something incredible. Actually, it was the disciples who did something incredible. They demonstrated their faith in Jesus and blessed others with the food they’d been given. [it’s not mentioned in Scripture, but just how much do you think God blessed the little boy who gave up his lunch so the 5000 could be fed – awesome!]

You are blessed if you have a roof over your head & a bed to sleep in, access clean running water, electricity, food in your cupboards, more health than sickness, and clean clothes to wear. To so many those things are luxuries – yet to us we barely even consider them. Think about the things that we consider luxuries – we are truly blessed.

The question is, can you be trusted with the blessings God has given you? He wants you to give them away to bless others.

Reflect:

‘Giving jump starts our relationship with God. It opens our fists so we can receive what God has done for us.’ – Randy Alcorn

‘God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.’ – Randy Alcorn

sacrifice-brings-forth-blessings

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