RICK BROWN: Make 2017 a year of firsts in your life
The “first.” First steps. First birthday. First love. First job. First car. First home. That first dollar you earned that you framed and hung on the wall. First class. First place. First choice. I remember my first Christmas with Karen. And recently I experienced another first: first Christmas apart.
There are many things in our lives that are firsts. The “first” is something special. You remember the first man on the moon: Neil Armstrong. How about the sixth? Edgar Mitchell. First is, well, the first, a never to be repeated moment.
We are in the first days of a New Year. It might help us to think about how to start these first days and weeks well. God is our example.
He loved us first. “We love because he first loved us” writes the Apostle John. God made the first move in our relationship, not us. Remember when you were young and were interested in someone and the awkwardness of figuring out who would initiate the first move? It’s huge. Well, God did that for us. He always moves first.
He loved us by giving us his firstborn son. “Firstborn” has to do with rank. We believe Jesus has always been as part of the Godhead. He was not created. So here “firstborn” means he is the highest rank, above you and me or any angel or being.
And he loved us by giving his firstfruits. Jesus is called that in scripture: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
“Firstfruits” is an agricultural term. It means the first part of the crop. It is a sample of what is to come. A farmer might take a sample, the firstfruits of his crop, to the market to show what is to come. “Taste this and see that more is on its way.” So Jesus is the firstfruits of God’s harvest. What he did first for Jesus he will do with us. Just as he called Jesus out of the grave he will do the same with us. How do we know? Jesus is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
So God gives love first. He gives his firstborn. He gives the firstfruits. In a good relationship we respond in like manner. Some of you may want to give your firstborn away, but that’s not the point. We give God our first, our best. And we begin with our love. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
What things? What we worry about: what we will eat, what we will drink, and what we will wear.” In other words, all the things we often love more than God and get our attention. Jesus says that those who are not believers in God chase after those things. But not his children.
So we love him first. And we can demonstrate that love by giving of our firstfruits. We give to his family, the church. “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the LORD.”
“Holy” is a word that simply means “set apart.” The first part of our income is holy, that is, it is set apart for God. It is part of “seeking first his kingdom.” So we give him that and learn to live on the rest that he has blessed us with.
And we give him the first of our time. The early church met on the first day of the week as that was the day Jesus was raised from the dead. “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread …” The tense used here is one of a habitual meeting. We demonstrate our love for God by giving him the first of our time, not the leftovers.
We are still in the first days of 2017. Make it a year of firsts in your life.
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