“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
~2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV).
Are there many ‘tithing’ sermons where this verse isn’t used? And yet, it is has such a broader application, notwithstanding tithing. (We’re loath to ever forget though that churches need money to survive, and to minister effectively, not to mention, putting bread on their ministers’ tables!)
As I write I consider one servant of God—a woman advanced in years, with her husband, both financially comfortable and of ‘grandparent age’. This woman entered my life at the very beginning of my active ministry. It was during one of those ‘Forty Days of Purpose’ campaigns. I’ve never seen a person more generously committed—in all manners of speaking—than her.
This Woman Gave and Gave and Gave
She gave of her money via cash when people needed it, or through the buying of time-worthy gifts—those gifts ‘in good season’. She gave of her incredibly talented abilities and her spiritual experience. She became a leader of note overnight; brought into bat by the Lord. She worked tirelessly for several years before slinking away when others were suddenly able to take on what she’d started, and she even skilfully dodged the fanfare normally accorded people of such generous valour.
This woman gave, almost best of all, always when it seemed from hindsight to be just the right time.
Giving the Best Gift
The most generous giver gives first to themselves... that might seem a little strange and out of place here. “Are you sure that’s right?” I might imagine you’re thinking.
The best lesson a good observation from this woman provided was her ability to rejuvenate herself, even though it appeared often as if she might be actually burning out. One thing she never lost was this radiant joy in her smile and laugh; both appearing spontaneously like rooster cracks at dawn. In all of this was her resilience, but more so, her ability to know when the right time was to withdraw.
The best gift a giver can give is to rest when required so such a lovely and blessed life can continue doing same, until the life therein breathes no more. It is little good burning out by doing good. Even worse is it to begin to do works of good faith without love, as if we were compelled to do so. There is no generous heart in that, only compulsion, and Paul commends us to give only from the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The best gift is to give back to self so the generous giver can keep on giving.
Here we must save sufficiently of ourselves—just enough of safe proportion—that we don’t threaten the longevity of our mission for God. This is a time-held wisdom; an eternal truth.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.