Note: Today’s daily devotional is taken from day 278 in the Romans: Theology for Everybody newly released book you can preview for free HERE. Thank you to everyone who has given to Real Faith and helped us give away free Bible teaching to around 100 million people this year.
If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. —Romans 11:16
Paul talks about two ways to keep from apostasy. Remember, apostasy refers to those who are with God’s people but are not of God’s people. They are surrounded by faith but not filled with faith. They know what truth is, but they don’t love it. It is so important for Christians to understand that it is possible for anyone to be swayed toward apostasy. If the Jewish people don’t care, then you also could get to the place where you don’t care. If their children stopped caring, then your children might not care.
So how do you guard your heart from apostasy? It starts with first fruits. Now this is a strange concept for us Gentiles, but first fruits in the Bible means first and best. You worship God by giving Him your first and your best. Paul talks about the dough offering, referencing the sacrifice commanded in Numbers 15. There were many offerings in the Old Testament, but whatever your vocation was, you gave your first and best to the Lord. If you were a rancher, you gave a percentage of your flocks. If you were a farmer, you gave a percentage of your crops. And if you were a baker, you gave a percentage of your dough. In the Old Testament this was a tithe, which literally means 10 percent.
As believers, we see the tithe as a floor, not a ceiling—a minimum, not a maximum. We give our first and best to God because God will do more with 10 percent that is consecrated to Him than 100 percent that is not. If you believe God is involved in your business, your life, and your finances, then you want to give to Him and invite Him to use that 10-plus percent for His purposes. This opens the window for God to bless and even multiply the remainder of what you have. It is an act of worship, because Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Your heart follows your money. Our currency says, “In God we trust,” but it should say, “In this god we trust.” Sadly, most Americans put far more confidence in their portfolio than they do in the Lord, who is over their portfolio. If you give to the Lord, then your heart will follow the Lord. People who stop giving eventually stop caring about the Lord. By giving first, you commit and consecrate your heart and your life to the Lord.
I talked to a guy not too long ago who was a new Christian. He asked, “How much do I need to give to God?” I looked at him and said, “You need to give 100 percent.” The guy looked at me confused. I said, “Of your sin.” He smiled and replied, “Oh, great, no problem.”
Jesus wants 100 percent of your sin. Before we can give God our best, we must give Him our worst. And in return, God gives us 100 percent of His best—the Lord, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells us God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. We get Jesus in exchange for sin. This is the mystery of the Christian faith. We give God our worst, and He gives us His best. We give Him our sin, and He gives us His Son.
Some people ask, “Why do I need to give my wealth to God?” I don’t look at it as giving 10 percent of my money to God. I look at it as God letting me keep 90 percent of His money. He could have gone the other way by requiring 90 percent and letting us keep 10 percent. The problem is we tend to think of worship as songs we sing and not sacrifices we make. But in the Bible, when people come to worship, they never come empty-handed. They always bring something as a sacrifice. You can’t worship God unless you come with something in your hand.
What are you willing to sacrifice to God in 2023?
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