The Word for today:
mark this: Nehemiah 10:35-37 —
We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil.
The Bible talks about the supernatural a lot. What I know about the supernatural is this: God is and I’m not. If I were to walk on water today, it would actually be none of my business. I might be atop the waves, but if God were to withdraw his hand, down I’d go. I’m ready and willing and believing; and like Peter, I’m always ready to jump out of the boat. But supernatural I’m not.
What we can be that’s just as exciting as supernatural is superlative. Now don’t stop reading because you’re thinking that I’m going to exhort you to become the best. I can’t even define best. Who’s the best singer? or baseball player? or writer? or bricklayer? Who knows?
By superlative, I’m not talking about someone else’s best. I’m talking about your best, and my best. That’s what is meant by the concept of firstfruits that we find throughout the Bible.
You might never be good enough to sing the solo in your church choir. But if you sing your very best to God, he will delight in it, because you have placed God first by giving him your best. In so doing, you have attuned your heart with his: he gave us his first and best when he gave us Jesus (1), so when we send him our best, our hearts rhyme with his.
A memorable example of rendering our firstfruits to God is found in the Christmas song about the little drummer boy. He didn’t have lavish gifts to give the King, but he gave the finest he had:
I play my drum for him.
I play my best for him.
You and I are to live a superlative life–the best we can offer–and then leave the supernatural up to God. Give him your best hour, your best effort, your best day, and then let him do with that what he will.
I can’t unleash light. I can’t heal the sick nor raise the dead. But God can do all of that with the hour and the effort we’ve handed him. My particular “drum”–the best thing I can bring to the King–is the meager writing talent you see in these sentences. I tap these sentences out, best I know how, and let their sound escape into the thin night air.
The results are left to him, in the supernatural realm which he commands. I can only cast these words to the wind. The wind–where and how these seeds fall–is at his supernatural direction:
“The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
We tremble–and we should–at the idea that we will give an accounting of our lives to God. But as we tremble, let’s remember that God is going to give an accounting, too. He’s going to be telling us just where he sent the wind. He’s going to show us what he made out of whatever we handed back to him.
I may not be in the varsity rank of writers. And your drum may be second-hand. But second-string or second-hand will never be an issue with God.
We might think that our best isn’t good enough. The biblical principle of firstfruits tells us that God begs to differ.
(1) see 1 Corinthian 15:20, 23