First Fruits

 

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine. – Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV)

 

In Scouting the Divine, Margaret Feinberg talks about the concept of “firstfruits,” and the practice of bringing a portion of the first harvest of a crop to the priests (p. 79, 81-86). This was a way of honoring God and of sacrificing to God… and perhaps a way of feeding the priests. It was also an incredible act of faith.

Feinberg talks about a conversation she had with her farmer-friend Joe, and about how Joe’s family celebrates “firstfruits” together. Each year when the first part of the harvest is ready, the family spends the day working together and filling themselves full of these early fruits of the harvest (79). It makes my mouth water to read the description of these juicy, freshly picked fruits and vegetables. I’m not a farmer or even a prolific gardener, but as a lifetime midwestern girl, I know there is nothing like fresh produce right off the vine.

Taking that mouth-watering sensation that I already have, I imagine living during Biblical times when the land was tied so firmly to a family’s livelihood, and when nature could quickly and easily destroy the crop at any time. The joy over the firstfruits of the harvest must have been immense, coupled with the longing for these fresh vegetables after the winter months.

I then imagine taking a portion of those firstfruits – so precious, so delicious – and giving them to God. There would be no guarantee that more produce would come. A drought, flood, or plague of insects could quickly devour the remaining plants. To give part of that initial harvest to God would require faith and trust that God would continue to provide. It would also require that I give up part of the harvest that is potentially the best, the thing I’ve been most longing for – and give that to God.

I cannot fully relate to what that agricultural existence would have been like. But it makes me ask the questions – What are MY firstfruits? Am I giving those to God, or to something else in my life? Perhaps my firstfruits are my thoughts upon awakening each morning, my energy throughout the day, my physical abilities, money, time, talents, etc. Do I trust God enough to give God all the beautiful things about my life before I do anything else with them? And do I believe that, when I do this, God will return my firstfruit offering to me with abundance?

What gifts and blessings are in the bountiful harvest that God has given you? In what ways can you do better at giving the firstfruits of the bounty in your life to God? Is there anything that is standing in your way of being able to give in this way?