“But this I say, he who sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly—and he who sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man, according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give—not grudgingly or of necessity—for God loves a cheerful giver. And, God is able to make all Grace abound toward you—that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”

II Corinthians 9:6-8

Just as Grace and gratitude go together, so do Love and liberality always travel together.
When you hear the word, what picture comes to mind? A wealthy benefactor giving a large gift to a college? A philanthropist making a large donation to hungry people in an impoverished community or nation? Someone dropping a pure-gold coin in a Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time?

Or, does the picture of Calvary come to your mind?
When Paul penned the words in today’s Manna, he had II Cor. 8:9 in mind: “For you know the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He were rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich.” He’d already told his letter’s recipients (the Corinthian Christians) about the struggling Macedonian saints and how “in great trial of affliction they had an abundance of joy and how out of their deep poverty they abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (8:2).

But, now he’s bringing his message closer to home by reminding them of “The Law of the Harvest.” No doubt they knew about farming. . .sowing, cultivating and reaping. . .and how “sowing bountifully” is better than “sowing sparingly.” And, he said, “The same is true in the spiritual realm. Generosity springs from Grace-gratitude, while miserly grumbling reveals ingratitude and distrust.”

No doubt Paul knew Jesus’ words, when He said “To whom much is given, much shall be required” (Lk. 12:48). No doubt he’d heard of Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14-30), where one servant was given five talents, another one two and a third one only one. While the master was gone, the one who’d been given five invested them and returned to his master 10 talents upon his arrival (vv.19-20). The servant who’d received two did the same and gave his lord four talents upon his arrival (v.22).

But, the third servant—who’d received only one talent—“dug a hole in the ground and hid his talent during the master’s absence” (v.18)—and had no additional money to give him when he returned. No wonder the master commended the first two servants (vv.21, 23), but condemned the third one (vv.26-30)—for he knew his problem wasn’t his fear of losing the talent, but was his inward attitude toward him, the master (vv.24-25).

And, dear Pilgrim, the same is true for us. If we see God as gracious and generous toward us, we’ll also act toward others the same way (Mt. 7:1-5; 15:19; Prov. 23:7a). That’s why the reason we give is more important to Him than how much we give. May the Holy Spirit help us today to be so filled with His Life and Love that it’ll overflow to those around us.

September 14, 2011