Summary: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Cor. 9: 6-7
Theme: God loves a cheerful giver
Harvest time is not only a time to rejoice, but also a time to remember the Lord’s many blessings and to say thank you. When we say thank you to another person that person often knows whether we really mean what we are saying or whether we are just trying to be polite. In every culture, especially in our own culture, it is customary to say thank you with a gift. Some cultures say thank you with flowers while others say it with a piece of African print. Some cultures also say thank you with chocolates while others say it with a gold necklaces or bracelets. The best way to say thank you, however is with a gift that the person would appreciate most and we can only know what to give if we are very close or intimate with the person. How best can we say thank you to the Lord today? What gift can we give to the Lord on this special day? Would it not be appropriate to say thank you to the Lord by supporting the development projects of the Church? Whenever I hear about Church building projects, I am always reminded of a story about a congregation that had gathered in an old Church to raise funds to build a new one. This Church was in a poor section of the town but had one extremely rich member who had a prominent seat at the front. During the fundraising programme he got up and made the highest contribution of one hundred thousand Cedis. As he sat down a piece of the roof came off and fell on his head. He immediately got up again and made another contribution of one hundred thousand Cedis. For a minute there was silence in the whole Church. Then a whisper was heard from the back, ‘hit him again Lord.’
We must never feel compelled to give for the Lord’s work. What we offer to the Lord must be given cheerfully for God loves a cheerful giver. We can only give cheerfully when the condition of our heart is right with God and our giving dictated by our love for Him. This is because God not only looks at the gift; He also looks at the heart. The condition of the heart when we give is much more important that what we give. If the heart wants to give more than the person is able to give, God sees it and records it accordingly. But if the hand gives more than the heart wants to give, probably just to show off, God records what is in the heart, no matter how big the offering in the hand might be. Our giving must come from the heart if it is to please God. The right condition of the heart is very important because before God accepts the gift He first accepts the giver. God will only accept the one whose heart is right before Him. When the heart is not right with God, the sacrifice cannot please the Lord because it is impossible to know what to sacrifice without a right relationship with God.
The story of Cain and Abel is a very familiar one. Both Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the Lord but the Lord did not accept the sacrifice of Cain because of the condition of his heart. God only accepts what we give Him when the condition of our heart is right. His promise that “the measure we reap is according to the measure we sow” can only be fulfilled when we meet His conditions. This principle operates in every area of life. The farmer who sows much seed will have a bigger harvest than the farmer who sows less seed. The investor who puts a larger sum of money in the bank will collect more dividends than the investor who puts in less money. The more we invest in the work of the Lord, the more fruit will abound to our account. The “good measure” God gives back to us is not always money or material goods, but it is always worth far more than what we gave. The mere act of giving, however, does not automatically ensure an increase just as sowing seed will not automatically ensure a harvest. A farmer who sows his seed in the wrong place cannot expect to reap a harvest. There are certain basic principles in agriculture that need to be followed if one wants to succeed. Not only does he need to choose good, suitable soil to plant in, but he also needs to properly prepare the soil and take proper care of the crop as it grows. If these conditions are not met he cannot receive the expected increase. His failure to receive an increase will not be because there is anything wrong with the laws of agriculture, but because he had failed to apply them. In the same way to succeed in the business world one needs to first seek advice from investment consultants about where to invest and how much to invest. It is very difficult to understand why we should think that investing in God’s Kingdom should be any different. Here it is even more important that we first seek God’s advice on where to invest, how to invest, when to invest and what to invest. We can only make the right investment in the Kingdom of God when the condition of our heart is right with God. God has blessed all of us with resources that we should see as seeds. These seeds are not to be hidden, foolishly eaten, or thrown away. Let us open our hearts to the Lord and ask Him to grant us His grace so that we can use His blessings in a way that pleases Him. “He is able to make all grace abound toward us that we, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”