Planning for Harvest

By Craig Borlase | 21 September 2011 | Comments (1)

Harvest image by curious kiwi

Take a look at 2 Corinthians 9 and you’ll come face to face with some bumper sticker verses: ‘whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly’ (verse 6), ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ (verse 7) and ‘God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work’ (verse 9).

If you weren’t a fan of context you could take these as fuel to fire a prosperity gospel: after all,  if we give a big enough offering with a big enough smile we’ll surely end up with a whopping great blessing on our lives, right?

Sadly, that’s not quite what Paul has in mind, but the passage is still dynamite when it comes to the subject of our giving.

Paul’s right when he says that we reap what we sow, but we should remember that Paul’s using the agricultural term metaphorically here, and so we are not meant to take the words literally. Instead of giving as a transaction, Paul paints a picture of a bolder, brighter way of being, one where our choices are motivated by our heart rather than our wallet. Each of us should give ‘what he has decided in his heart to give’. As the late John Stott commented, ‘there is a sense here of a settled conviction about how much to give; of a decision reached after careful consideration, and always with joy and cheerfulness.’ 

Stott also made the link between this passage and Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthians where he encourages planned, systematic giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-3). While there’s nothing wrong with spontaneous, Spirit-prompted acts of generosity, we primarily need to approach the matter with care, prayer and time. Decisions about what, and how, we give should not be left to spur-of-the-moment emotions, just as a harvest cannot be reaped when the farmer feels ‘in the mood’.

Harvests, like generosity, take time, purposeful planning and an eye for the long game. As well as making us more efficient in our giving, this also allows for a greater connection with God through the process. As Paul says,

‘This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.’(verse 12)

We 21st century Christians have such potential. We have the power to become informed about so many areas of need, and the possibility to plan our giving in ways that make a sustained, effective difference right where we feel God is calling us. We have the opportunity to share our stories with others across the planet in an instant, and the chance to let our generosity become one of the driving forces in our faith. What a great, indescribable gift!

 

Take action:

Engage more with this harvest time: go to www.biblefresh.com and read more of Stewardship’s blogs. 

Take stock of your budget and accounts and spend some time reviewing your giving.

Tinned goods have become ubiquitous at harvest, but tin cans sitting in the back of dusty cupboards are poor symbols of God’s abundance and generosity. This autumn let’s reconnect with the idea of celebration and generosity, go to or even run a harvest supper or harvest celebration.

comments:

David Anderson

October 11, 2011 5:18 PM
A heart searching comment on giving. However I wonder if today it is no longer a question of tithing our finance but tithing our time. Time seems to be a major constraint in many churches today.

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