Loving God More and Giving Him Less

  • Friday, February 3, 2012

  • "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Corinthians 9:6

    They were called "set-aside acres" and he had field after field of them. After the morning service had ended, I was given directions to the home where I would be the dinner guest of one of the Elders of the host congregation. They had selected this particular house for my afternoon relaxation for one key reason. The home was just over the Nebraska line from the Wyoming community where I was preaching that weekend and Nebraska was playing in a televised game in Columbia, Missouri. My host for the game was an avid Nebraska fan and the only one in the Wyoming congregation who had the game coming into his television. So they gracious arranged for me to enjoy a great farm-cooked meal AND some great Husker football.

    As I turned off the Wyoming highway onto the gravel county road, I was amazed at how many acres of land along both sides of the road appeared to be nothing more than weed beds. Mile after mile of untilled and unplanted fields surrounded me. Finally, following the sketched map in my lap, I turned off the gravel and into a long lane, driving up to a meticulously manicured farmyard. It was impressive for its orderliness and also for its absence of visible farm implements; not a tractor was in sight!

    As we enjoyed home cooking, I inquired about all the unfarmed land around us. "I retired at an early age," my host said with a smile. "They actually pay me NOT to farm that ground! Those are called 'set-aside acres' and for conservation purposes I receive a check for not putting them into tillage." He lived on a beautiful farmstead and had a new career in a business in a neighboring community. Money for not planting.

    Too bad the spiritual world doesn't work like that. Most of us would be doing very well these days! "I will bless you if you conserve/preserve your seed." Too many of us are actually living as though we believe that GOD has introduced a 'set-aside' program. But Paul declared, "He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God." 2 Corinthians 9:10-11

    If a consultant were to give you counsel regarding your financial strain and seeming lack of sufficiency, would he be shocked to find that you--perhaps in fear of loss, or regrettably, a lack of trust--were simply hoarding your resources in some reserve account rather than generously scattering them so that they might multiply to allow you to have both sufficient dollars to provide for your own family as well as give graciously to accomplish Kingdom work for God's glory? Have you defied the first rule of spiritual and financial prosperity? "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Corinthians 9:6

    God does not honor our spiritual 'set-aside acres' program. Rather, God rewards with great increase those who, by faith, take the resources He has graciously provided and scatter them wisely and widely for His Kingdom. "Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."

    The fourth quarter had just begun when it became necessary to begin my drive back across the state line to the church to preach once more. I was listening to the radio and was totally engrossed in the close game as I pulled into the parking lot. I stayed in my car until the very last possible minute and then headed inside. The Tigers had emerged victorious. So close…but I would have to face the playful mocking of the Wyoming crowd over a Husker loss. But then…one of the members came rushing into the auditorium just as we were about to begin the service to say, "The ball was tipped off a shoe in the end zone and the Davis kid grabbed it for a touchdown!" Husker pride rewarded in a small Wyoming church!

    Set-aside acres, a profitable conservation program for the agricultural community, but a failed practice for the community of faith. God rewards only those who sow seed generously and liberally. Can God joyfully reward you?

    See you Sunday, Church!

    Pastor Tom


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