The Bible calls each of us to give back to God our first fruits...the first and best portion of the harvest.
Exodus 23:19 says, "Bring the best of the first fruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God."
The book of Proverbs echoes this saying, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops." (Proverbs 3:9)
By giving to God the first part of our incomes rather that what is left over, we demonstrate that God, not our possessions, has the first place in our lives. Our resources truly belong to Him because they were produced by Him through our hands.
Deuteronomy 8: 17-18 says, "You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth."
Giving to God first helps us conquer greed, helps us properly manage God's resources, and opens up to receive God's special blessings.
The New Testament teaches that our generous giving should be:
Regular - In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul instructs, "on the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collection will have to be made." (1 Corinthians 16:2)
Proportional - In 2 Corinthians 8:12, Paul teaches, "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have."
Sacrificial- Jesus teaches of sacrificial giving in the book of Matthew, where it is written, "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on.'" (Matthew 12:41-44)
Jesus' words show that the value of a gift is not determined by its amount, but by the spirit in which it is given. A gift given grudgingly or for recognition loses its value, but a gift given out of gratitude and a spirit of generosity is pleasing to God.
The goal for St. Michael parishioners, therefore, should not be equal giving but rather equal sacrifice.