Bishop Robert Schnase in his Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations proposes that "Generosity enlarges the soul, realigns priorities, connects people to the body of Christ, and strengthens congregations to fulfill Christ's ministries."
In biblical times, first fruits came from the giver's sharing of livestock and harvest with the community and the temple. Today our first fruits may not include a new crop of corn or sheep. Even though our basic needs remain the same--food and shelter--our simple, basic desires have been replaced with a super-sized, extravagant version.
Instead of being more generous with our giving as we have more, we may choose to keep the best for ourselves and give what is left to God. When we do give, we give out of guilt, shame, or obligation. Add to this the expectation to receive something in return immediately, and we may give grudgingly.
Tithing, one-tenth of what we have, requires us to look at how we earn, give, save, and spend money. How we balance and relate to money is not a financial decision but a spiritual decision. Yes, how do we choose to honor God with our spiritual decisions about giving our money, time, and talent through the church community.
If we make decisions based on giving, we show a greater trust in God as the creator and source of all. We show spiritual discipline with our financial choices. Instead of that new expensive pair of shoes, we may buy a less expensive pair or avoid buying at all. Instead of sleeping in on Sunday, we come to church to be refreshed in community for the next week.
Thank you God
Giving our first fruits is a "thank you" to God for all the blessings we have already received. Instead of worshiping money we worship God. Spiritually we grow from self-centered acquiring, no-time-for-church activities, and avoiding mission projects to a willingness to give and share what God has given us with the church community. Through these spiritual decisions, we gain self-control in all parts of our life.
Together we can give more
With each of us giving to one pot of money, we are able to do more for others together. Remember, our giving is through the church, rather than to the church. In our giving we provide for ministries that help the church community reach out to those in need.