Webster’s Dictionary defines first fruits as, “The earliest gathered fruits offered to the Deity in acknowledgment of the gift of fruitfulness.” As believers in Jesus, we know that God is the one true Deity who deserves our worship. When a farmer puts in the effort to grow a crop, whoever he decides to give the first produce to is very special to him. Today we are going to explore what it means to give God our first fruits.
What Does Firstfruits Mean in the Bible?
Bible Study Tools Dictionary shares, “(Heb. resit [tyivaer]; Gk. aparche [ajparchv]). The concept of first fruits derives from God's creation work. Because God created everything that exists, all of creation belongs to him (Psalms 24:1). Consequently, that which is first and best belongs to him and is to be given to him.”
In the Bible, we see the word firstfruits mentioned 32 times. This is a valuable concept for every believer to understand. The very first mention of the word is found in Exodus 23:16. God’s people are told to celebrate the Festival of Harvest with their first fruits. Verse 19 says to bring the best of the first fruits to the house of the Lord. This begins the idea of giving God our first and our best.
Although the exact word is not mentioned, we can see this concept in the story of Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:4-5 says, “And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”
Abel brought an offering to God of fat portions from the firstborn. He brought a “first-fruit” to give to the Lord. The Creator was very pleased with this gift. Cain did not bring this kind of offering and God did not have favor on it. Cain was angry and sad. “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it’” (Genesis 4:6-7).
Cain had an equal opportunity to bring a “first-fruit” offering to God. Even after he did not give the Lord His best, God was giving him another chance. It was not the end for Cain, but instead, Cain decided to commit a horrible sin and killed his brother Abel. What we can learn from their lives is that we each have an equal opportunity to give the Lord our best and our first. However, we get to make a choice if we will offer to Him or keep for ourselves.
Some Scriptures We See the Word Firstfruits:
Leviticus 2:12: “You may bring them to the Lord as an offering of the firstfruits, but they are not to be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma.”
Numbers 28:26 talks about the Festival of Weeks, “On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.”
Proverbs 3:9: “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;”
Ezekiel 44:30: “The best of all the firstfruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.”
What Is the Difference between Firstfruits and Tithing?
A first-fruit is different from a tithe. Although both are offerings to God, the first fruits are giving the best in the beginning. A tithe is a small percent or portion of the total. A large difference between the two is that the first fruit has to be given at the start and from the best. A tithe is a portion dedicated without an order per se.
There is a connection between the two though. Both first fruits and tithing involved agriculture. Cortni Marrazzo from Crosswalk says, “The tithe was an offering of one's agricultural income to the Lord as an expression of thanks and dedication. In the Old Testament agricultural economy, tithes were paid not in cash, gold or goods but in crops or livestock, for only the agricultural fruit of the promised land was to be tithed—not other forms of income.”
Deuteronomy 26 goes through the first fruits and tithes. Firstfruits of the produce were supposed to be offered when the people arrived at the promised land. Then in verse 12, the Israelites were to set aside one-tenth of all of their produce in the third year (the year of tithing). The tithe was actually used to help the foreigners, orphans, and widows to be able to eat. It is interesting when we look at the first fruit as our offering to the Lord and our tithe as our gift to those He is taking care of in His name. We see this same heart for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow in the New Testament as well (Matthew 25:31-46 and James 1:27).
Why Are Believers Firstfruits of God?
2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.”
James 1:18 says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
Believers are beautifully said to be the first fruits of God. This is an absolute humbling thought. We as sinners redeemed by Jesus can be considered the first fruits of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 shares how because of Jesus, we are God’s first fruits. This holds a deeper meaning. If we are supposed to offer first fruits to the Lord, then this means we are called to offer ourselves. I think of Romans 12:1 where it tells us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices unto the Lord. We have the opportunity to give our Creator the beautiful gift of hearts.
How Can We Offer Ourselves to God Daily?
We can give ourselves to God today by acknowledging Him as Lord through our words and by our actions. We can pray and invite Him into our days and do everything for His glory. We can choose to be aware that everything we do is not in our own strength, but by the power of His Spirit. We can remember that we are unworthy, but Christ has made us worthy of the calling to be children of God.
I think of a child bringing a parent an abstract-looking drawing and that parent celebrating the gift and placing it on the refrigerator for all to see. We might feel as if we have nothing of greatness to offer the Lord of the universe, but we are His children and any opportunity that we have to give Him our best and our first is valued.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Monika Grabkowska
Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com