Put Your First Fruits Toward Debt
by Brett Birschbach
Wait, what? I’m pretty sure God said, “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 34:26) And that’s absolutely right. Our first fruits should indeed go to God, toward the unpayable debt we owe to Jesus Christ our Savior, not out of obligation or any hope to repay it, but out of love and thankfulness. But as Christians, we all know that, right? And regardless of where we find ourselves financially, we should never consider stealing from God in order to pay our earthly debts.
But what about the money that remains after those first fruits? How do we spend that money, and how do we pay down those debts that nag us on a daily basis and drain us of our energy to go out and serve the Lord to our fullest? When I started my journey in “the real world” and got my first credit card, I did my best to put extra money at the end of the month towards that debt. However, there just never seemed to be all that much money left to dedicate. I’m not proud to say, but my giving to the Lord followed the same pattern.
In His infinite wisdom, God commanded us to give to Him our first fruits. In my (sadly) finite wisdom, I can’t possibly claim to know all of God’s reasoning on this topic. However, God being a pretty smart guy, a few logical reasons come to mind:
- People are selfish (by sin) and spend money according to their priorities. Putting God at the top of the list puts Him at the center of our priorities and emotions, exactly where He should be.
- People are greedy (by sin), and will never have “extra money.” Seriously, extra money? Shelve that oxymoron right next to “jumbo shrimp.”
- People are undisciplined (by sin), and can often not get themselves to do things they know they should. Giving to God our first fruits changes the act from an emotional dilemma with our sinful nature each week when the offering plate goes by to a conscious, onetime decision in a moment of prayer and clarity.
A turning point for me and my family was the switch to first fruits. First and most importantly it was our giving to the Lord. But then I applied that same principal to our debts, giving to them the first fruits of the remainder. Instead of paying down debts with oh-so elusive “extra money” at the end of the month, I deliberately built those extra pay down amounts right into our monthly, non-negotiable expenses. Now at the end of the month if there was no money left, it simply meant one less time eating out instead of one more month with no meaningful progress against debt.
Similar to the logical bullet points above on why we give first fruits to the Lord, putting first fruits (of the remainder) toward debt does the following:
- It shows our family and proves to our self that we are finally prioritizing getting out of debt.
- It protects us from making purchases that are “wants” of greed instead of “needs” when doing so would slow down or even reverse our reduction of debt.
- It changes our approach to debt reduction from constant emotional decisions swayed by the mood of the day to instead be based on a decision made in a moment of clarity after discussion with our spouse and prayer.
So put the first fruits (of your remaining fruits) towards debt, and start making progress toward a debt free lifestyle!