Enlarging Our Harvest
My husband, Dan, and I have worked in a variety of ministries over the past 35 years and have seen God’s provision even when money was tight. We have always tried to operate from a spirit of generosity with our time, talents, and treasures.
Dan and I have experienced God’s blessing as we seek to honor Him with all we have. There have been times when I had no idea how we would make ends meet—we always make sure that our tithe is the first bill we pay, and we have seen God always provide above what I could ask or imagine.
We don’t give because we expect something in return. Instead, we operate from the conviction that God can’t pour out His blessings if we have a clenched fist, holding tightly to our possessions. A spirit of generosity is an attitude to be cultivated as we humbly receive from God what we need each day.
Are you operating from a place of open-handedness, or are you clutching tightly to what you have? Do you freely give of your time, money, talents, and spiritual gifts, or do you simply receive from others without offering any help? Or, even worse, is your ‘help” offered in the form of criticism? Do you choose to withhold your tithe, or do you cheerfully give even when you have other expenses to pay? Do you expect God to bless you without offering anything to Him or others?
These are sobering questions. We can all easily fall into the “taking” category at some point or another, but we are called to embrace the opportunity to reflect the generous, giving nature of God. 2 Corinthians 9:10 tells us, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”
We cannot out give God. We should not expect God to bless us and increase our harvest and ministry when we have a stingy attitude towards all He has given us. God can provide above and beyond what we need in all things. Open your heart. Open your hands. Pour out blessings upon others, and watch God take what you give and increase it for His glory. Don’t be stingy with your life! Be extravagant in your giving, and watch God bless and enlarge your harvest.
Our Generous God
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” –James 1:17
Earlier this fall, I stood at the bedside of a hospital crib where my grandson lay motionless. He and his twin brother had fallen seriously ill with RSV and pneumonia. Decades of life and ministry had not prepared me for the sight of seeing my grandsons suffer, needing support for breathing. It left an imprint on my heart. During those long days of waiting and banging on the doors of heaven to heal my grandsons, I rehearsed what I knew to be true about my Heavenly Father. Would I trust my generous God with whatever the outcome might be?
At first glance, when reading James 1:17 we might not see how this verse directs us towards the generosity of God. But upon slowing down and really reading it thoroughly, we find the words“every”; “good”; “gift”; and “no change or variation.” Each word alone could give us the idea of generosity, which defined in the Oxford dictionary means, “Showing readiness to give more of something than is strictly necessary or expected.” The Greek meaning for every means “all, every, of every kind” and is found 1,078 times in the Bible. With every used that many times throughout the Bible, I would say that defines generosity.
This verse also points us to our good and perfect gift from God, who gave the ultimate gift, His Son, Jesus Christ. A good, free, and perfect gift from Him that provides a way for the dead to be rescued from the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13). God does not change like the light that changes from day to night or the shifting shadow that moves when we move. Malachi 3:6 reminds us: “For I, the Lord, do not change . . .” showing us His generous nature. What a comfort and firm foundation for us as we face the future, the unknown, the trial we may be facing today or when standing at the bedside of a grandchild.
We can rest in our generous God whose character and eternal purposes do not change, providing us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). My grandsons are now home and back to keeping their parents on their toes. We can trust God for all and any outcomes, and sometimes God will answer in a way we do not expect, but we can trust His intentions for us are always good (Rom. 8:28). He is our generous God.
You Can Be Generous
We live in a world full of scarcities that rivals our call to generosity. During my life, I have walked through scarcities of food, love, patience, grace, time, and finances. At various times, I horded these precious items, only able to give out begrudging teaspoonfuls. The anxiety of having too little was overwhelming as my hands held tightly onto the little scraps of “enough” that I had mustered together. I was unable to give without losing the security that I desired.
Being a single mom, I realized long ago that I never had enough patience, time, or money left over for others. My house was never clean enough; my much-desired reality of laundry completion was never accomplished; I had neither time nor resources to spare.
But, secretly, in the deepest closet of my heart, I enjoyed this pursuit of being superwoman. I wanted to have a spotless house, perfect children, time to serve others, and time for myself. But I wanted it all on my own terms, without changing myself or giving anything. I simply could not be generous. I needed to change my mindset, to clean out the self-sufficiency in this closet of my heart for generosity to move in. But how?
My answer began here: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21). I had to admit that I was stuck in a cycle of giving based on what was left over, then internally sweating about what was now gone. How could I taste the fullness of God’s generosity if I was unable to test my own?
When we put our faith in God and His eternal treasures, a life of generosity can begin. The treasures of time, money, kindness, and patience do us no good stored up. But when received from God for His use through us, these resources can transform lives in the name of Jesus. God can be revealed to the broken world around us through our giving.
Is God enough? Will He be enough? Can I be generous without looking back?
Scripture promises, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
God will not disappoint; He is faithful to His promises. Trusting Him, I have repeatedly seen His riches and radical generosity. God wants to amaze us with His goodness.
How, then, can we unburden ourselves to be generous?
Take inventory of the immeasurable. Fix your eyes upward to see the abundance of God’s giving and the wealth that He offers—spiritual health, relational healing, emotional wholeness. He will overflow your accounts with unlimited blessings, friendships, security, grace, love, and patience.
Say these words today: “God, I will trust You. All I have was given by You. What I have is Yours to give.”
A Generous Person
Her name is Margarita. She is Cuban-American, and I am invited to her 85th birthday open house at a local nursing home facility. I have met her in person only once before this event. Shortly after I arrive, our eyes meet. With an expression of delight that animates her from head to toe, Margarita gives me a friendly wave and approaches me in her motorized chair. After a warm embrace, Margarita looks me over and offers a gracious compliment. When I wish her a happy birthday, she responds with an incredulous, “Eighty-five! Can you believe it?” and giggles in delight.
Margarita grabs my hand and continues her commentary on life. She expresses love and appreciation for her accommodations, her caregivers, and her Savior. I sense that her heart is a well-watered garden that provides a place for beautiful things to grow. She does not resent being transplanted. Instead, she delights in her Abba’s provision. Margarita explains, “Every morning I recite, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, the Lord is my shepherd.’ And it’s true! Some days I wake up feeling great; some days I wake up feeling off. But every morning I declare, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’” I squeeze her hand and declare, “Yes! Every day, God is so kind.” And my spirit is refreshed.
Margarita exemplifies this proverb: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).
The word “generous” (the Hebrew word “bᵊrāḵâ”) in this proverb is most often translated as “blessing” in other verses. The source of all generosity is God Himself, who declared to Abraham, “I will bless you . . . you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). I am convinced that God is the source of every gracious word spoken by Margarita. Love simply bubbles out of her from a very deep place in her spirit.
The word “refreshes” (the Hebrew word “rāvâ”) connotes a sense of being satiated or completely satisfied. Margarita’s enthusiastic welcome, her Spirit-filled words, and her tender insistence on holding my hand throughout our conversation filled me with joy as we mutually celebrated our Abba’s kindness and faithfulness. The same Hebrew word is used here: “They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights” (Ps. 36:8). I truly felt like I was drinking deeply from God’s river of delights alongside Margarita!
Finally, the phrase “be refreshed” (the Hebrew word “yārâ”) carries the idea of being taught. The same Hebrew word is used here: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Ps. 32:8). Margarita’s demeanor and her effusive testimony of God’s goodness to her is evidence that our Father is faithful to refresh us through His Word and His presence. The source of Margarita’s joy was certain.
Do you know a generous person? Take a moment this week to express your thanks to her. Schedule time together if possible.
Are you a generous person? We can all increase our generosity through receiving from God all that we need. Ask God to instruct, teach, and counsel you. Allow God to rearrange your schedule and priorities. From God’s abundance we can all bubble over with joy, gratitude, and grace—just like Margarita.