In Nehemiah 10, as the Israelites grow closer to God, more obedient in their faith, and more spiritually mature, the text describes incredible changes that take place in their lives.
First, they moved away from the world. In Nehemiah 10:28, we read, “They separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God.” Growing closer to God and His word means moving farther away from the world.
Second, they made a financial commitment to God. They obligated themselves “to contribute yearly one-third of a shekel for the service…and all the work of the house of our God” (Nehemiah 10:32-33). Living a life faithful to God required them to commit to supporting the work of the temple.
Third, they determined to give to God first. Their offerings were not to be from what was leftover or from their excess, but they said, “We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests…” (Nehemiah 10:37).
Today we do not worship God the same way the Israelites did, but to live a faithful life, we need to make similar changes. As we grow closer to God, we will surely move farther away from the world. Have we done that? As we become more mature in our faith, we should become more generous with our time and money to support the work of the church. Can we see that change in our lives? As we become more spiritually mature, we need to be more determined to give back to God from our “first.” Is that what we do?