Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. Leviticus 23:10
As the Hebrews wandered in circles in the Sinai desert for forty years, they became acutely aware of all that they did not possess. As nomads they had no land to call their own, they did not have established dwellings, and they did not have fields and crops to sustain themselves. They were forced to rely solely on the provision of God. And God provided. So, as they began to contemplate what life could be like in a land that was said to flow with milk and honey, they probably didn’t have an issue with offering the first fruits of their labor and the very best of their produce to God as a way of expressing gratitude. How hard is it to think of being generous with that which you do not possess? But once you have received the gift and lived in the land for some time, once you begin to reap what you believe to be the rewards of your own labor, once you feel like the owner of all that you have—how much more difficult it is to part with what you believe is rightfully yours!
But all that we have is a gift from God—whether we recognize that fact or not. God gives us life, God has created the world we live in, and God promises to provide for us whether we find ourselves in the breadbasket of the world or in a barren desert. God rightfully deserves the best of what we have. Offering God the first fruits of our harvest—whatever that harvest might be—is a wholly appropriate gesture of thanksgiving. How easy it should be to offer that which we have to God, who promises to always supply us with more! Why, then, is it so difficult for us?
Do you offer the best of what you have to God?
Lord, I give You my leftovers if I remember to give You anything at all. I feel entitled to what I have. I believe I have earned it. But if I take a moment to step back and survey the abundance of this world, and how little I actually produce in it, I find I am reminded that everything belongs to You. My claim on this world and all that I have is tenuous and temporary at best. In truth, I own nothing —I am squatter in Your world —all things are Yours. Help that realization to fuel my generosity. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.