Picture being a farmer who grows a number of crops during the course of a year. This is your livelihood. Now, as a farmer, read this verse:
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops. - Proverbs 3:9
Why would this verse be very difficult for a farmer to handle? Well, it has to do with the term “firstfruits”. Firstfruits are what you harvest…you guessed it…first. The very first crop to be harvested during the growing season are your firstfruits. The verse is saying God wants you to give from your firstfruits. This is kind of crazy. Why? Because as a farmer, you don’t know what the rest of the growing season will be like.
Conventional wisdom would say, “Save the harvest from the firstfruits and give once you’ve got some crops stockpiled.” That’s not how God wants us to give. “Firstfruits” giving is sacrificial and trusting in God’s provision. It’s living life on the edge.
Here’s to “firstfruits” giving!
One of the reasons you may lack contentment is that you’re not giving enough away. Enough money. Enough time. Enough skill and energy. Let me explain...
If I use a glass jar to pound in a nail, I’ll quickly find out two things. First, the nail won’t go into the wood. Second, the jar will break when I use it for that purpose. A glass jar wasn’t built to pound in nails. That’s not it’s “telos”.
A “telos” is the intrinsic purpose for something. The “telos” of a glass jar is to hold things like homemade jam. That’s what a glass jar was built to do. Only when it’s fulfilling its intended “telos” will the jar “experience” contentment.
The same is true of human beings. Part of our “telos” is to be givers more so than receivers. How do I know that? It’s starts with what God is like.
And we are made in his likeness - to share in the family resemblance. Which means our “telos” is to resemble the generosity of God. Stinginess leads to emptiness. Generosity leads to fulfillment.
Dissatisfied with life? Try giving away more: money, time, skill, and energy.
Here’s the final installment in this series. Much more could be said, but we’ll leave it here.
Unholy discontent arises when we perceive that we lack something. I’ll list a few examples to get you thinking about where the source of your discontent lies.
This last reflection is meant to get you thinking about how a lack of something in this life is serving to prepare you for the next life. In the Scriptures, we are shown countless times that a significant problem we contend with is worshiping, serving, craving, created things rather than the Creator (e.g. Rom. 1). I believe God withholds created things from us in order to prepare us for the way things will be in heaven when the Creator/creature relationship is put in the right order. When considered from this perspective, discontent is an opportunity to prepare for heaven by “demoting” created things and “promoting” the Creator. If this work doesn't happen in this life, we will find heaven to be disappointing. How sad that would be.
Thomas Watson says it well, “…faith carries the soul up and makes it aspire after more noble and generous delights than earth affords, and to live in the world above the world…”
May this be true of us!