Happy New Year guys. I am glad we all made it to the new year. I am excited to see the new year knowing fully well that 2016 is a year loaded with many goodies. I believe it is our year of accelerated promotion and so shall it be. Did I hear you say a louder Amen? (Laughs) Amen!!!!!!!
Some three or four years ago an old friend of mine asked me to help him clarify this subject of firstfruit as he and his wife have had disagreement on it over time. He said the first month of the year is always scary for him because of the difficulties that often come after they faithfully pay their firstfruit in their church.
Some two months ago, a young single mother also did a mail to me asking to know about firstfruits and I did replied to clarify what I know and believe is firstfruit from the pages of Scripture.
Again, a few days ago, we had an interesting discussion on Top Radio 90.9Fm on the Topic: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PERSONAL FINANCE. We took the topic knowing that the first month of the year for many is usually a month of bills; school fees, regular home upkeep etc etc.
In the course of the discussion I did share on the subject of Giving to God as a game changer regardless of the shape of finance (good or bad) for an individual. Expectedly alot of queries poured in on the subject of Firstfruit like that was the only thing shared on the 2-hours program #Sincerelymen.
Firstfruit appeared in the New King James version old testament 24 times and 7 times in the new testament of the same version. And I need us to understand that the ancient people of Bible time were mostly farmers. And so, their produce was what was used as tithe, offering and indeed firstfruits. However, as times have changed, today many people have different profession and earn money in exchange for goods and services. Hence, the reason money is the main item offered for tithe, offering and firstfruits. Imagine how todays church will be like if everybody had to bring their goat, ram, cow, goat, apple, orange, banana, mangoes, corn, laptop (for those who deal in laptops) phones (for those who deal in telephones) etc etc to church as offering, tithe and firstfruits?
I also need us to know that we should learn to read Scripture with an open mind and an understanding heart. We need to take note of;
- The Origin of a Scripture in terms of what has been said before the Scripture we are quoting (say in previous verses or chapter) and not just to copy or qoute a Scripture to achieve a purpose
- We should check who is making a commandment in the Bible and to see whether it is an express commandment to a group of people or it is actually to all.
- Firstfruits is a commandment by God like all other forms or kinds of giving like tithes and offering. And from times of old, it depends on what you produce or what God or the priests command per time. We read of Firstfruit of grain and wine in 2 Chronicles 31 Vs 5; bread of firstfruits as given by a man from Baal Shalisha to the man of God in 2 Kings 4 Vs 42.
- As Israel was God’s firstfruits in Jeremiah 2 Vs 3, so did Jesus become firstfruit for those who have fallen asleep as well as to those who are His- 1 Corinthians 15 Vs 20-26
- Beyond what we give today as tithe, offering, or firstfruits, God the Father brought us forth by the word of truth to be a kind of firstfruit of His creatures- James 1 Vs 18. In order words, God is not only interested in what you have but who have you. When you and I become firstfruits to Him, what we have does not have us but He has us!!!
The five points above will help our understanding of firstfruits and you will soon see the reason for this in a shortwhile.
Firstfruit is a controversial subject. It is not as definite as Tithe and offering. Definite in terms of percentage for tithe or freewill as for offering. Different teachers, Pastors, preachers have different interpretation for the subject. Some preachers say;
- It is whole first salary in the month of January
- It is whole first salary in the month of January irrespective of when it is earned
- It is whole first income in the new year
- It is whole first income in the new year irrespective of when it is earned
- It is the increase on what you used to earn and what you now earn whether on salary or business income, not the whole salary or income.
Interestingly, I belong to the school of thought that says it is the increase on what you used to earn and what you now earn and this is what I shared on radio. If there is NO INCREASE between what you used to earn and what you now earn THERE IS NO FIRSTFRUIT. If there is a salary raise or a new business breakthrough at any time in the course of the year, you need to pay firstfruit on your increase irrespective of the time of the year it occurred. FIRSTFRUIT IS NOT DUE TO BE PAID IN JANUARY IF THERE IS NO INCREASE IN DECEMBER OR JANUARY!!!!
Like I said on radio, firstfruit from what I know from Scripture is the first and best part of what comes to you in a new land. “Land’’ is where you farm, is from where you farm to harvest produce later. “Land” is where you earn a living. It is what accrues to you as a result of your effort on your ‘land’’ ( i.e place of work, career, profession or business).
For instance if your harvest from your farm in monetary terms is N2 million last year and your new harvest is N5 million. Your firstfruit is N3 million, which is the increase on what you used to earn. Like I said on radio if your previous salary was N40,000 and you now got another job which pays N80,000, your firstfruit is N40,000 which is the increase between N80,000 and N40,000 that you used to earn and it is paid once. That is, it is one-off not what you keep paying every month in a year!!
So, what is the basis of all these assertions? Friends, I have studied the Scripture and in a moment we will do Bible study on this subject and I believe the Holy Spirit will open our understanding on this subject matter.
Those who say it is the whole first salary have a Scriptural basis for what they say quoting scriptures like;
“And we made ordinances, to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the Lord; to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees. The new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God……..”
Nehemiah 10 Vs 35-37 (NKJV)
If you read above Scripture well from the beginning (Verse 1) you will observe that firstfruits was a law passed by Governor Nehemiah in agreement with the priests. The names of the priests was listed in verse 1-8 of Nehemiah 10.
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest’’
Leviticus 23 Vs 9-10 (NKJV)
Do I need to say more here that this Scripture is clear ab initio who gave the commandment?
You recall here that the children of Israel were being led by Moses and they were sojourners on the way to the promise land.
When you come into your land is what God said here, not when you come into a new year!
In addition, the Bible reads further;
“Honour the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase’’
Proverbs 3 Vs 9-10 (NKJV)
Friends, honour the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase. Firstfruit of all your increase NOT ALL YOUR INCREASE!
It is upon this Scripture that I based my conviction and my recommendation on radio a few days back.
Lets see this Scripture in other translations of the Bible;
“Honour the Lord with your capital and sufficiency (from righteous labors) and with the firstfruits of all your income’’
Proverbs 3 Vs 9-10 (Amplified)
“Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce”
Proverbs 3 Vs 9-10 (New Living Translation)
NOT ALL YOUR PRODUCE, but the best part!!!!!!
“Honour God with everything you own; give Him the first and the best”
Proverbs 3 Vs 3-10 (The Message Bible)
This Scripture initially can be interpreted as everything you have but it further clarifies it as FIRST AND BEST. First and best means the choices part of what you have. The freshest if you like.
Lets see further Scriptures in Exodus;
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God…….”
Exodus 23 Vs 19
Friends, with respect to reaping and harvesting, times change differently for everybody. That is why we all were not born in the same month, at different times people also die or transit out of planet earth at different times of the year. Please take note that GOD DOES NOT WORK ACCORDING TO THE ENGLISH CALENDAR or any other!!! He works according to Heaven’s calender for each of His creation. Your time of increase is different from mine and so both of us or all of cannot pay firstfruit at the same time!!!
Inaddition, when you pay all of your January salary as firstfruit, what do you use to go to the ‘farm’ (place of work) to harvest in the next month of February. Recall that Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Mathew 11 Vs 30 (NKJV)
Yes, Believers work by faith and so, if you have faith that God will supply your needs after giving all of your income in one month, then go ahead and do so. God who sees in secret will certainly reward you in the open.
Where you need to have a re-examination of yourself and indeed your giving is when your barns are not filled with plenty and your vats did not overflow with new wine as was promised in Proverbs 3 Vs 10 after giving your firstfruit.
The purpose of this article is essentially for information and education on the subject matter. Please do not use this as a tool to disobey or confront your church leadership.
The Scripture enjoins us to obey the authorities that is set over us (Romans 13 Vs 1). Obey your church leadership for as long as they are set over you or for as long as you subject yourself to their teachings.
If you have a rejoinder to this article, please feel free to do so at least for the purpose of knowledge. You can write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, Happy New Year
Adegboyega is a student of the Bible and author of some Christian books which are available at CSS Bookshop, 50 Broad street, Lagos Island; Book Affairs Bookshop, Suite 28 POWA Shopping complex opposite MKO Gardens Alausa, Ikeja; Laterna Ventures, Oko Awo Street, Victoria Island.
He also speaks on finance, career, relationship and marriage on Top Radio 90.9Fm every Sunday 4/5pm-7pm and PetalsFm 102.3 (Ibadan) every Thursday 7.10pm-8pm