Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bruised Olives

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing…” Prov. 3:9-10.

At first glance we think of this passage primarily relating to money and tithe.  We must remember that at the time of this writing offerings were given to God based upon what the person owned.  If one owned an olive grove, the best of the best was expected to be given to the Lord.  If one raised cattle, the most perfect was expected to be offered upon the altar…the purity of the offering showed the level of reverence and love they had for God.  Once Christ died for each of us, we were purchased with His blood and filled with His Spirit.  From the Spirit, we have vast wealth from which to offer God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law’ Gal. 5:22-23.  When we place the attitudes of the Spirit over the attitudes of our flesh, we find ourselves honoring God with our thoughts and actions.  In every area of our lives we have the opportunity to display the fruit of the Spirit first – the firstfruits.  If our attitude is bitter we toss bruised fruit in His offering plate…If our attitude is one of judgment we throw sick cattle upon His altar.  His offering soon becomes cluttered with ego, entitlement and self-focus, an offering plate too heavy to lift.

The firstfruits that honor God are the words and attitudes that reflect Christ-like character.  Anybody can look like the flesh but it takes work to emulate the Spirit.  The manner in which we treat and relate to others will determine how they see us.  Jesus used this truth as bookends in Matthew 7:16-20.  As He discussed the heart attitudes, the explanation is simple – we will be identified by either flesh living or Spirit living.  By their fruit, you will recognize them…Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ 

The purest offering for which we honor God is to live a life where the Spirit’s fruit shows first.

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