God Must Be First
Principle: [from Latin prīnceps = leader, emperor.] The definition is:
an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct;
guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct;
a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived; an originating or actuating agency or force.
Difference between a Principle and a Rule: A rule is often the specific application of a principle as in the golden rule. Pharisees held the Sabbath as a rule. Jesus rejected their thinking because they had exalted the rule above the principle.
This teaching is about God multiplying the “harvest of your righteousness”. It is based on a principle set by Jesus: Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Some say, “don’t talk about money, Pastor; talk about something spiritual”. Nothing is more spiritual than how you handle your money. It is the supreme test of where our heart is. A faith that hasn’t reached your wallet, hasn’t reached your heart.
Money is something we use every day as our medium of exchange. Our very survival depends on it. How can Jesus save us to the uttermost without caring about that which is so intrinsically tied to our very survival?
The Bible links evil to a love of money, so there is nothing more important than our attitude toward it. “But it’s uncomfortable”. If so, you would have disliked the preaching of Jesus. Of 36 parables, 16 had to do with our attitude toward money! Verses about faith: 350; baptism: 40; prayer: 275; love: 650; money: 2,350. Recall the widow’s mite? The Pharisees were giving their large offerings, and she gave her 2 mites. That whole story has to do with our attitudetoward money. If God’s not interested in money, then why include that story?
Why include the Unjust steward? Jesus said, if you have not been faithful with your money, who do you expect to commit to you the true riches? His story had to do with our attitude toward money. The Rich Young Ruler went away sorrowful because he didn’t own his possessions…they owned him! It’s about our attitude…!
Money is like fly paper. It offers a sweet, honey-like substance, which is also very sticky. The fly approaches saying, I want the honey! He lands and begins to eat, saying, I got the honey! He tries to leave but the paper says, I got the fly! Many live saying, I want the money… and before they know it, the money has them!
So what’s the point: The point is that God Must Be First.
Exodus 13:1-2 1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”
Exodus 13:12-13 12 that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s. 13 But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
The Firstborn Must be Sacrificed or Redeemed.
This is a principle and points to Jesus. If it's unclean, it has to be redeemed with the sacrifice of the clean and, if it's clean, it has to be sacrificed.
Were you born clean or unclean? (David says we were all born in sin.) Do you have to teach a child to be bad or does it come naturally? We have to teach them to be good. Jesus was born clean and was sacrificed so the unclean could be redeemed.
Jesus is God's first. God didn't wait to see if we would straighten up and then give Jesus. The Bible says that “while we were yet sinners” Christ died for us. God gave Him before anyone believed in Jesus.
He made that sacrifice first! This a principle THROUGHOUT Scripture.
Why do we meet on Sunday if the Sabbath is the 7th day of the week, Saturday? It’s because Jesus rose with new beginnings and because we are to give the first day to God… and the rest is blessed (begin your day and enterprise with God and the rest is blessed. When you give the first portion of your finances to God, the rest is blessed.)
2) The Firstfruits Must be Offered.
Exodus 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God…
Proverbs 3:9-10 9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.
When your animal has offspring, sacrifice the first = faith. Not, “Wait until the animal has ten offspring and give me the tenth one.” He said, 'Give me the first one and the rest will be blessed'. This is something about tithing that many people don’t understand. 10% is so every person can give, whether you make a little or a lot. It levels the playing ground. Bringing the first 10% takes faith. That means give the 1st 10% to God first and then pay the bills with the rest, not pay the bills and see if enough is left over for God.
Spiritual Principle: God will always be first, whether you put Him first or not.
When they went to conquer the Promised Land, God said; “Give me all of the silver and gold from Jericho”, the first city. He didn't say, “Conquer ten cities and then give me one”;
He said, “Give me the 1st and the rest are blessed”. They disobeyed and the 2nd city, Ai, was not blessed. They had to get it right before they could conquer the rest. This is the principle throughout Scripture. This explains why God accepted Abel's sacrifice but didn't accept Cain’s who brought neither the firstborn nor the firstfruits:
Genesis 4:3-5 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of thefirstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering…
Abel was a rancher and gave the firstborn. Cain was a farmer but didn’t give firstfruits. He gave an offering, but on his terms, which God will not accept. God can't change because He's perfect. If He could get better, He couldn’t be God.
God can't think like we think. We think to figure things out. God is Omniscient! Nothing has ever occurred to God. God has never said, "You know, it just occurred to me!" His thoughts are not human thoughts. God can't accept an offering that's not first because of His preeminence. He expects the first… on principle.
The Tithe Must be First.
Leviticus 27:30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.
It is set apart to the Lord. It is the first because He uses the exact same language with the firstborn. He says, “It belongs to God”, "...it is the LORD's".
People say, "Well, tithing was under the Law, and I'm not under the Law as a Christian; I'm under grace so I don't tithe".
(1) Abraham commenced it in Gen 14:17-20.
(2) Jacob continued it Gen. 28: 22.
(3) Then Moses came along, and God gave him the law in Lev. 27:30. He commanded it.
(4) A few hundred years later, Malachi confirmed it.
(5) Then, years later, Jesus commended it:
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
Jesus said you ought to; I’m convinced! Note, also that obedience in tithing is never an excuse for unholy living. You can’t buy God off.
Abraham commenced it, Jacob continued it, Moses commanded it, Malachi confirmed it, and Jesus commended it.
Who am I to cancel it?