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No More Leftovers: A Gift for My God - Wholly Loved - October 29

No more leftovers: A gift for my God

By Jessica Brodie

“Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.” Exodus 23:19a

I used to slip a dollar, maybe a five, into the church collection plate and feel just fine. I told myself God didn’t need my money and assumed tithing was an Old Testament concept or something only the wealthy did.

Much later, I came to understand tithing was for me—a way to honor God, to acknowledge Him tangibly as Lord over my life, to know He owns everything (including my bank balance!) and that I’m merely His manager.

Twice monthly, I forced myself to donate ten percent of my paycheck to Christ. Soon this became habit, an automatic line on my monthly budget.

I began feeling proud of myself … until one morning while reading Nehemiah.

The Israelites had recently returned from exile to Jerusalem and learned all the ways they’d disobeyed God’s Laws. Feeling horribly guilty about their behavior, they made a covenant with Him to follow His commands, including keeping the “sabbath year,” which meant forgiving all debts and letting the land rest from crops every seventh year.

They also pledged to give toward the upkeep of God’s house—not just with what was left over, but with their “firstfruits,” the best and initial results of whatever it was they could offer.

They pledged to bring the first, the best—not their leftovers.

I needed to do the same.

What I was doing—making sure God “got paid” His tithe—was behaving as though it was a bill, not a sacrificial offering. And that wasn’t the point. My tithe isn’t a bill. It’s a gift to Christ and an honor, and a way I can demonstrate my trust in Him.

I need to give my “firstfruits” to God. It’s a simple but important distinction. It says “God comes first,” both literally and figuratively.

After that, I can grocery shop, because I know He will provide. He always does.

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning journalist and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministry team. She’s also an author who currently serves as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. She is the author of More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and editor of Stories of Racial Awakening: Narratives on Changed Hearts and Lives of South Carolina United Methodists (2018), both from her newspaper’s Advocate Press. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction, represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her novel The Memory Garden won theAmerican Christian Fiction Writers’ 2018 Genesis Contest. She has a faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com.

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