Ready for a quick trip down memory lane? Sweet, let's go. When I was growing up, one of my favorite foods was... (wait for it...) leftovers. Yes, we were the family that it was totally legit to eat the leftover lasagna from supper for breakfast the next day. I remember in middle school we were writing our "Newsletter" and did a survey of our tiny student body of their favorite "after school snack." There was one write-in vote for "Leftovers." Fortunately for me, the surveys were anonymous and when everyone literally laughed out loud at the ridiculousness (practicality?) of the thought, I never owned up that twas I who wrote that as my favorite snack.
Let's be honest, somethings are better leftover. My top picks: Homemade macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, pizza, egg casserole, strawberry pretzel salad, German potato salad and anything involving chocolate. (Ok, chocolate is good fresh, leftover or licked off a plate-- anything goes in that category.) Hold on... now I gotta run and take a snack break. (Just kidding)
As much as I still adore leftovers, I do know someone who isn't the biggest fan... God. He doesn't want our leftovers. And sometimes, that can be hard! Most of us deal with some, all or a combination of the following on a daily basis: spouse, work, kids, bills, church, community activities, parents, siblings, homework, exercise, grocery shopping, sleep, (insert your own daily activities here). So the question is: Where does God fit?
Unlike our "shoved-to-the-back-of-the-fridge-leftovers," God should be at the front of the list for a priority of things in our life. Exodus 23:19 says “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God." Now don't miss construe what I am saying here. God DOES understand that we aren't always going to be on our A-game, peppy as Saturday Night Live Spartan Cheerleaders. However, he does expect the BEST or "Firstfruits" of ourselves to be dedicated to him.
"Firstfruits" is mentioned in the NIV 31 times... "Leftover" is only mentioned once. To me, that is an indication of what God expects from us. We can give the most and best of ourselves daily by our actions and our thoughts. I don't know about you, but if I put off something until the end of the day, the less likely it is going to get done. Example: If I wait to have my quiet time with the Lord until after supper, something seems to be more likely to come up or cause distraction. Plus, I might be weary from the days hoopla and chaos, so I won't be my "best." I try to pray before I even get out of bed in the morning, asking God that whatever I do that day it may be to his glory. After all: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
Another and more "touchy" area of "firstfruits" and the non-leftovers issue is the idea of money, especially tithing. No where in the Bible does it say "Each time you get paid, wait til the end of that money then give me whatever you have leftover. Yep, that'll be fine." Instead it says "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10) This is the great news-- God isn't asking to tithe back to Him because He "said so" and is on a power trip. Instead He has made us a PROMISE that if we show this act of faith and reverence to Him by giving our "firstfruits" He will let the returns overflow! If that's not motivation to cut a check, I don't know what is!
Bottom line: God doesn't want our leftovers, whether it is in devotion, energy, love, money or service. He desires our firstfruits. Yes, it seems as if much is asked of us, but oh beloved, SO much more is given! It is our privilege to serve him in this way. “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree." (Nehemiah 10:35)
Are you representing a beautiful, ripe, sweet piece of fruit right off the tree or a wilted lettuce salad leftover from the day(s) before? God desires our firstfruits, not our tupperware-clad-back-of-the-fridge leftovers. It tastes sweet to Him-- but oh-so-sweeter for us!
To the Glory of God,
"As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything." - 2 Chronicles 31:5