You Just Can’t Do It

Have you ever planted a garden from a few little seeds and been amazed at how much can be gathered at harvest time?  It used to marvel me that putting in one bean in the rows at a time would soon be bushes full of green beans in just a few weeks’ time.

Considering the phrase, reap what you sow, how does this concept work when giving time or money to either tithes and offerings to the church or time volunteering or giving from the heart in other ways (paying it forward comes to mind)?

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness  2 Corinthians 9:6-10

Michael used to have a saying when we planted our crops every year. We have to plant enough for others and all the varmints besides so there will be enough left for us. 

I know a lot of folks who bristle at the idea of tithing to the church, especially if they have in the past been made to feel as if they didn’t give enough. I found out a few years ago from my sister that my dad stopped going to church because of an incident such as that when he and my mom were relatively newly married.  The church was adding on to the existing building trying to raise building funds. This was a big church and decked out rather nicely… well apparently what my dad gave wasn’t good enough and he was visited one evening by the pastor and associate or one of the deacons or elders or whatever and was told that he ought to give more, after all, my dad had a good job.  Never mind that they had also adopted their first kid (my older brother) and were in the process of adopting my older sister.

Things like this make it hard for people to “give with a cheerful heart” sometimes.  My dad is a very good, hardworking and honest man who is wise with his money, but not stingy.  But that experience left him pretty dry on contributing to the church from that time on.  Others I know have experienced similar, so they have found ways of giving or donating time and/or other resources.

And, like everything else, there is the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to giving… that of folks who give nearly everything they have in hopes for the preacher’s word of faith to come through. That God will multiply their seed of faith by sending them a check for something equivalent to a lottery win.  Prosperity preachers have been  twisting the idea of a cheerful giver for a looooong time, and not to put down the victims who send in their life savings, but there have been people with hearts hoping for riches in this life more than the next who succumb to that kind of ear tickling.  Unfortunately both extremes lead to some bitterness.

This is one of the things I have wrestled with for a long time- trying to impart the importance of tithing to Michael when he was one who had bad experiences in the past and didn’t understand my willingness to give money when we were living frugally as it was.  He didn’t like it when I did, and I did understand his reasoning even though he didn’t understand the concept of “You can’t out give God” and that it is by faith that we give, not out of what the money will necessarily go towards.  I mean it’s important and wise to give to a cause or church for the right reasons, but we have to have faith enough that the money will be spent by the recipient, for God’s work as intended.  What we give is between us and the Lord, and those who receive and are stewards of the tithes or offerings is answerable to the Lord as well on how they spend it.   I have a feeling a lot of jet setting preachers will have a lot to answer for some day.

But I also don’t want to give expecting God to give me back say, enough to buy a house or go on vacation or get me a newer vehicle or anything like that.  I know He could, but He is not our personal Santa or genie- He is our Creator who knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows why we give what we do, and He has His ways of giving back in more unexpected and creative ways than we could imagine. I won’t ever give with the hope of getting a lottery sized anonymous check in the mail, but knowing how God loves to give, I know He will bless the cheerful giver.

For obvious and not so obvious reasons for the past few years when considering how to tithe and how I can give the way I used to when I don’t have the resources I used to- I think of the story of the Widow’s mite.  Considering my last few years, I have found myself walking in faith a little more and trusting the Lord more and more. Yes there are times often I still have anxiety and fear of too much, which shows lack of faith and trust, but for much I am learning to step out of the boat a little more than I used to.

I’m not saying this to brag, because there’s a ton of things about me and my walk that are still baby steps, and still ‘ye of little faith’, and any kind of day where I am a bit stronger in faith than others is all because of Jesus, not me.  But I am beginning to really understand and see in real time, the concepts of giving from the heart and trusting the Lord with it, than I used to.  While I’ve always tried to give when I could, and enjoyed giving something totally unexpected to strangers, it was still mainly when I could, when I had plenty.  Now that every dollar I earn needs to be stretched in ever more ingenious and creative ways, I still want to “test” the Lord, because I want to be faithful, like the widow giving her last few mites.

I have found that God is giving me back in ways which I was able to give when I had more.  And other times when I could have used some of what I gave, I am being blessed by others in the same ways now that I am a little more in need.  It’s the same with time offered- not just in deeds, but in prayer.  While I have prayed in ways I’ve never prayed before for someone, I find out that others are praying in the same fervent ways for me.  That is an abundant an amazing blessing and I am so grateful.

Can we out give God?  One only need to look at the Son who was given to realize that we just can’t do it.  It’s not about what things we can get in this life, but what He has given and what He has given for the next life that matters most. The rest that He gives is amazing icing on the heavenly cake.

Have a blessed Monday all.