Stained Shirts and Leftover Pizza…

Ben Schoettel   -  


Imagine for yourselves who you might consider to be the most influential, important, or special person alive today. (This isn’t Sunday School, so you don’t have to say Jesus…) I’m talking presidents, athletes, authors, actors, Taylor Swift (it’s okay to admit it), whoever comes to mind.

Now imagine them asking YOU to invite them to your place. You get to host someone who has made such an impact on your life. They are going to see and get to know you personally, and on your territory. Then… to top it all off… it is their birthday (I know… this scenario is getting more and more unlikely… but hang with me.)

The guest of honor arrives. They even go ahead and declare that “_______ is my new best friend. I would do anything for them. I love them with all my heart. I am so honored that they would allow me into their life. I could not imagine spending this special day with anyone else. I am so glad I told them my favorite meal and exactly what I want for my big day, because I know they love me enough to make it happen.”

Uh oh… Now imagine this is the moment that you realize that you not only forgot to get them the gift they asked for, but you also forgot to prepare their favorite meal. Or any meal. (This dream quickly turned into a nightmare…)

So, after everyone sings for the guest of honor, you sheepishly creep up to them to give them a plate of leftover pizza (from who knows when) and an unwrapped and stained t-shirt (the last one left in the drawer.) At this point, I wonder if they (or anyone else) would believe that they are still your favorite? Would it be shocking for them to question your love?

“Firstfruits” is a word in scripture used in both the Old and New Testaments. There are a few different applications to this word.

One of them is to describe Jesus as the “firstfruits” of the New Creation (meaning the first to enter this new Kingdom under the new covenant established in His resurrection. The “firstfruits of new life.)

Another is to describe us as receiving the “firstfruits” of the Holy Spirit. This in a way is a description of what happens in our lives when we surrender and become sanctified by the Holy Spirit. We are now fertile ground in which the Spirit can now bear fruit in our lives.

Then there is the “firstfruits” of our harvests. This is the description that is found both in the Old and New Testaments to describe what we are to offer to God. Long story short, the people of God are continually told that we are to give our firsts back to God for the work and witness of Jesus, the One who “loved us first.” For us to give to God first means we allow God to determine our needs in this Kingdom at each point in time. God does not ask for our “leftovers” because then we have the power to determine what we can and cannot give. If we take on that role, it becomes nearly impossible to resist the temptation to believe the myth of scarcity (the belief that there is not enough for everyone, so I need to protect mine.) Plus, what do we all know to be true about the human experience? More often than not, if we are not intentional from the beginning, there is not much left at the end.

Would we want to believe we serve a God that sees us as worthy of old pizza or a stained shirt? We serve a God that calls us beloved. And even from the beginning as God worked to establish a holy people, God’s love in action to meet the needs of the people required our faithful offering of “firstfruits.” When this practice of “firstfruits” offering was neglected, it was soon followed by inequity, injustice, oppression, and then the cries from God’s beloved “God, where has your love gone? Why is there suffering around us? Why is there not enough?”

Please do not internalize this to the point of believing that you are solely responsible for the needs of all of humanity or that that we don’t have limits. Instead, as we close out this series on sacrifice, I believe it would be wise for us all to look at our time, talents, and resources, and ask ourselves if we have been loving and trusting God with our “firstfruits” or our leftovers.