In my quest to read through the Bible this year, I've been reintroduced to the beauty of the Old Testament historical books. One thing that has convicted me time and again is that God unequivocally commanded His people to give of their first fruits, their very best, in offering to the Lord (Ex 34:19-20, 35:5-9 are just two examples). My parents taught me to always set aside the tithe of my finances to the Lord first, and then divide the rest up in my budget, something I try (but don't always succeed) to do. However, what about other forms of tithes and offerings? I'm so guilty of handing God my leftovers, my scraps when it comes to my talents and time. For example, I only sign up for service projects if I have time leftover in my week from work, spending time with friends, watching my favorite TV shows, and sleeping. Or when was the last time I heard of a need for clothes for a friend or acquaintance and rather than dig through my overflowing closet for my rejects went to the department store and bought a new outfit to give?
Last August, I made a survey trip to Manila to scope out what my ministry was to be. Before I went, I talked to the missions pastor of my church about taking donated clothes for the new babies at the birthing clinic. She suggested I take baby quilts, lovingly made by a wonderful group of ladies in the church. When I saw the quilts, my heart melted. They were beautiful! I knew that these moms who lived in squalid conditions would never have the opportunity to own something as precious as this but for the generosity of some ladies in Southern California. These quilts were definitely "first fruits."
It got me to thinking, how can I make this new ministry more accessible for people to give of their time and talent and not just their treasure (money)? Flying over to the Philippines is not always an option for most people...but what about other forms of "tithe?" Some ideas I have had are:
- a new digital camera and small photo printer in order to give new families a family picture to treasure
- small photo frames for these pictures...this is something an Awana or Sunday School group can make
- more quilts!
- crocheted or knitted booties, mittens, and caps
I can't wait to get over there and give of my time, talent, and treasure for these dear people. But in the meantime, I can't forget to give of my first fruits right where I'm at.