We see many people not hold back. Many times it is when someone is having a tantrum or voicing an opinion. Then there are those who don’t hold back at the all-you-can-eat buffet. There are those who don’t hold back when they are racing or competing in sports. Not holding back means doing it all. It could be eating it all, giving it all, saying it all.
In today’s passage, we read about the Israelites who responded to Hezekiah’s command with generous hands. “They didn’t hold back, turning over a tithe of everything,” the Bible says. They gave the firstfruits of everything—EVERYTHING! There was so much stuff that was dedicated to God that it was piled in mounds. Look at the time involved—over three months of piling items. Talk about not holding back.
When I read of this it brings me great joy. I always love to read about people who are so generous and giving. It is such a special thing to give; it is a gift to give. I always get more joy from giving than from keeping. Sadly the statistics show that most people hold back a lot. I have heard it said if everyone tithed without holding back, giving the ten percent, people would be cared for and there would not be all of the situations we see all around the world. You might think that ten percent is a lot. You might think you cannot do it. But trust me, when you do it, God sees you through. You always have just what you need. So don’t hold back. Live with your hands open.
“As soon as Hezekiah’s orders had gone out, the Israelites responded generously: firstfruits of the grain harvest, new wine, oil, honey—everything they grew. They didn’t hold back, turning over a tithe of everything. They also brought in a tithe of their cattle, sheep, and anything else they owned that had been dedicated to God. Everything was sorted and piled in mounds. They started doing this in the third month and didn’t finish until the seventh month.”
-2 Chronicles 31:5-7 [MSG]
When we give something to God, we are to give our best. God has given us His best and everything that we have is not even ours—it is His. Everything.
When we look at Cain and Abel, today’s passage speaks volumes. Abel brought an offering from the FIRSTBORN animals. They were CHOICE CUTS of meat. Firstborn. The first of what Abel had was given to God. Cain also brought an offering, but the passage simply says “produce of his farm.” It likely wasn’t the firstfruits. It was what he gathered from his farm but it wasn’t the first.
As you read your Bible, again and again we read of the firstfruits and the dedication of the oldest (first) child to the Lord. When we tithe, it is to be the first of our income—money right off the top before we do anything else. When we provide an offering (which is something above the tithe), it should also be something that is meaningful. We shouldn’t give out of excess. It all comes down to the heart. It all comes down to trusting God. He has given us His best.
“Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.”
– Genesis 4:3-5 [MSG]