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When You Give (4): “The Principle of First”

When You Give: The Principle of First

If God is first in your life, then everything will come into order. Abiding by the principle of first will bring blessing, no matter what trial you are going through.

The video below is the third message of The Blessed Life series by Robert Morris: “The Principle of First”

Robert Morris says this is the most important message of The Blessed Life series. The principle of first is a principle that runs throughout scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

The Blessed Life, Sermon 3: The Principle of First

The principle of first is about making sure God is first in our lives. In Exodus, God told Moses to consecrate the firstborn among the children and the beasts. Throughout Scripture, the firstborn always belonged to the Lord. Our obedience to God’s principles reveals the condition of our hearts.

Sermon Outline

Key Scripture: Exodus 13:1–13

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine‘ (Exodus 13:1-2).

“‘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’ (v. 12).

“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” (v. 13).

The firstborn must be sacrificed or redeemed.

In Exodus, the firstborn among beasts that were clean had to be sacrificed, while the firstborn of the unclean had to be redeemed. These two classifications are examples of what was to come. God’s firstborn Son, Jesus, was clean and had to be sacrificed. We are unclean, and therefore Jesus was sacrificed for our redemption. God gave Jesus first, in faith, even when we were sinners. Jesus is God’s tithe.

Robert Morris says:

You give the tithe first. You don’t pay your bills and see if you have enough left over to tithe. You give the tithe first. It’s the first ten percent. It’s not just ten percent; it’s the first ten percent, because it takes faith to give the first.

See God said, “When you sheep has a lamb, give me the first one.” It takes faith to give the first one before you have any more. You don’t know if the sheep is going to produce any more. That takes faith. God didn’t say, “Wait until your sheep has ten, and then give me one of them. And You can give me the one that keeps getting into your garden that you don’t like.” No, He said, “You give me the first one before you have any others.” …

It’s not the ten percent that enacts the blessing. It’s the faith that enacts the blessing. (Tweet this)

It’s giving the first ten percent. And the reason I say that Jesus was God’s tithe is because God gave Jesus first. He didn’t wait to see if we would clean up or straighten up to give his son. God gave Jesus when we were mocking him and spitting on him an nailing him to a cross. Romans says it this way, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” And Romans also said it this way, “God gave Jesus in hope.” In hope. And the root of that word [hope] is “faith” — in faith. We give our tithe in faith. So it’s the first ten percent.

Think about this—when the children of Israel went into the promised land God said, “Bring all of the silver and gold from Jericho into the house of God.” …  Why didn’t He say ten percent of Jericho? It’s very simple: because Jericho was the first city. He said bring the first into the house of the Lord and the rest are redeemed. They’re out from under the curse. They’re blessed. The first portion is the redemptive portion. Please hear me: when you give the first to God the rest are redeemed.

Hear me clearly: don’t give the first portion to the mortgage company. Because the mortgage company does not have the power to bless your finances. But God does. The first portion, first ten percent, goes to God.

The firstfruits must be offered.

Proverbs 3:9–10; Exodus 23:19; Genesis 4:3–5

The firstfruits must be offered.

“Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). (Tweet this)

Proverbs 3:9–10 says that we are to honor the Lord with our possessions and with the firstfruits of all our increase. When we do this, we invite God’s blessing into our lives, and “your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow.”

“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God” (Exodus 23:19). (Tweet this)

We saw in previous posts (here and here) that in Malachi, God said to bring the tithes into the storehouse. As Pastor Morris explains, there is specific reason the word “bring” is used:

The reason God uses the word bring instead of the word give when He talks about tithing is because you can’t give what doesn’t belong to you.

You have two choices when it comes to the tithe, according to scripture. You can bring it, or you can steal it. (Tweet this) Those are the only two choices. There is no other choice according to scripture.

Remember that when God said, “bring all the silver and gold from Jericho,” Achan kept some. And of course the next city, then, they lost the battle until they brought it to the house of God. Here is the point: in Joshua 6, God calls the tithe consecrated or set apart—the same thing He called the first born. But in Joshua 7, once Achan took it, He said, “Israel has stolen from me and they’re cursed.”

It’s consecrated when you bring it to the house of God. It’s cursed if you leave it in your bank account. (Tweet this) … Why would you want something cursed in your bank account? I mean, it has enough problems. Why wouldn’t you want your bank account blessed?

See it takes faith to give the first. It takes faith to believe that 90 percent redeemed and blessed will go farther than 100 percent cursed.

In Genesis 4, God honored Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. The reason is because Abel‘s offering was from the firstborn of his flock; however, Cain’s offering was not from his firstfruits.

“And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell” (Genesis 4:3-5).

Notice that scripture does not say that Cain brought firstfruits. He brought an offering in the process of time. Cain was a farmer; he didn’t bring firstfruits. Abel was a rancher; he brought the firstborn. It’s not just that God wouldn’t accept Cain’s offering; it’s that God couldn’t accept it.

. . . . . .

The tithe represents who is first in your life. Pastor Morris says:

You can tell me all day that God is first in your life, but let me see your bank account. And I’ll tell you who’s first. Where does the first ten percent go — that’s who’s first.

The tithe must be first.

Leviticus 27:30; Exodus 13:14–15

“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” (Leviticus 27:30). (Tweet this)

Notice the word, “all.” All of the tithe is the Lord’s. It belongs to God. He set it apart for Himself. That’s why it’s stealing to keep it, because He set it apart to Himself. That’s why it has to be first — because God is first and He owns it. In other words, if we’re going to return it, we have to return it first.

There are many blessings that go along with tithing, but it is the principle of faith and putting God first that initiates these blessings. The first portion, the tithe, is the portion that redeems the rest. God does not desire a legalistic begrudging response; He desires our hearts to be submitted to Him in joy and faith that His principles are true.

Tweetables

  • When you tithe, it’s not the 10% that enacts the blessing. It’s your faith that enacts the blessing. > Tweet 
  • Honor the Lord with … the firstfruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty…” Prov. 3:9-10 > Tweet
  • “The … firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God” ~ Exodus 23:19 > Tweet
  • According to scripture, you have two choices when it comes to the tithe — you can bring it or you can steal it. > Tweet
  • The tithe is consecrated when you bring it to the house of God. It’s cursed if you leave it in your bank account. > Tweet
  • “All the tithe of the land … is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.” ~ Leviticus 27:30 > Tweet

Questions: 

  • The principle of first is giving to God before we see if we’re going to have enough. What are some things in your life that might conflict with the principle of first? 
  • What types of fears or concerns, if any, do you wrestle with most when thinking about the principle of first?
  • What does your bank account say about who or what is first in your life?
  • Are you bringing to God all of the tithe, which belongs to Him? Or are you stealing it? It’s blessed when you bring it to God! It’s cursed when you leave it in your bank account.

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

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1. Sermon outline and summary paragraphs from Gateway Church.

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One Response to “When You Give (4): “The Principle of First””

  1. David says:

    Please explain three aspects being taught.

    1. You cite Lev. 27:30 for the proposition that the tithe must be first. Please comment on Lev. 27:32, which says the tithe is the last tenth of the animals.

    2. He teaches that the tithe should be offered as soon as we receive the increase. Please reconcile that with Deut. 14:28, which says the tithe was commanded to be given only at "the end of the year", and then only every third year.

    3. He teaches that tithes could only be brought (or returned) or stolen. He says they couldn't be "given" because they already belonged to the Lord. Please reconcile that teaching with Deut. 26:12-13, which commanded the farmers to make a ceremonial statement that they had "given" their tithe "as commanded".

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