do not be weary in doing what is right, kindness, feed the hungry, work, living in idleness, toil and labor, worked night and day, an example to imitate, unwilling to work, mere busybodies, work quietly, earn their own living

Do not be weary in doing what is right

Revised Common Lectionary readings: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Our reading from the revised common lectionary is a passage from Paul to the church in Thessaloniki (and I won’t get into the debate about whether this was even written by Paul or by another leader in the Church).

Irrespective of authorship, some of the recriminations to the church are just as valid today as they were 2,000 years ago. He’s talking about the free-loaders. Those who are just along for an easy ride and are not pulling their weight.

Remember, the early church lived in community, where everyone’s needs were taken care of by the collective. So, they all poured what they had into the coffers and then the church took care of making sure that everyone received their meals and were cared for.

Nonetheless, there were some that Thessalonians says were living in idleness, being busybodies. I am sure that it was more than just “living in idleness” and being “mere busybodies” – because if you have ever worked in an office with a staff member that was idle and a busy-body, you know how that can drag the entire team down!

You get one person that is busy watching everyone else work and full of gossip and criticism of how the job is being done, and what is and is not right, and before long, you have two discontent workers, then three, and then four.

Rather than each person working quietly, each taking care of their own responsibilities and getting the job done, now you have negativity and complaints running rampant. And it all starts with one person feeling that they aren’t required to break a sweat like the rest.

The writer of Thessalonians counters this, saying I gave an example to imitate, by my own toil and labour. I worked night and day, so that others could see that no one is entitled and everyone should earn their own living.

This is a very practical perspective of living, even within the church – a look into human nature and what happens when we start to think that God will supply all of our needs, like Santa Claus, rather than looking to the nature of the Creator.

what are you working on, show, don't tell, loving-kindness, work quietly, doing justice, walking humbly

What does doing right look like from a spiritual perspective?

Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” 

– Harold S. Kushner

If we look at this from a more spiritual perspective, rather than the very practical one we find in Thessalonians, what can we find? How can we live better in community with each other and with the Eternal?

Connected with God and doing right

Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know him better. But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love.

1 John 4:7-8 (TLB)

For starters, and it’s more than just a suggestion – we are called to BE loving and kind. Those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God.

Would the people that know you well describe you as loving and kind? I’m not talking about your personality, whether you are charismatic or introverted. I’m not even talking about how well you relate to crowds of people.

But, when you treat others, closely – how would those that know you describe you? Do you show that you are child of God simply by being loving and kind?

This doesn’t mean that you don’t exercise boundaries, or that you become a people-pleaser! You can be loving and kind and say “no, I won’t do that for you“. It does not mean that you have to be another person’s doormat, trampled on, in order to show you love them and are kind to them.

But if you are not loving and kind what are you filled with?

I’ve used this metaphor before – when you squeeze a lemon, lemon juice comes out. If you bump into someone, carrying a cup of coffee, they spill their coffee. And when someone knocks into you, what spills out of you? Is it loving-kindness?

World Kindness day

Wednesday, November 13, was World Kindness Day. The internet was alight with examples of how to practice kindness – random acts of kindness, small acts of kindness, and celebrations of kindness in the community.

But, as Christians, as those who claim to be children of the Creator, followers of Christ, we are told that we are to be filled daily with love and kindness.

Not as something that we celebrate one day of each year.

But that as a demonstration of this is who we are.

if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love

1 John 4:8

How are you doing in your day-to-day life, showing that you are a child of God?

day-to-day, child of God, loving and kind, god is love, this is who we are

What does the Eternal ask of you?

No. He has told you, mortals, what is good in His sight.
    What else does the Eternal ask of you
But to live justly and to love kindness
    and to walk with your True God in all humility?

Micah 6:8 (VOICE)

Other versions translate this as act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

It’s a really simple formula:

  • live justly
  • love mercy / love kindness
  • walk humbly with your God

Take a moment for some true self-awareness. To see yourself as others would see you. As they might feel that they have been treated by you.

Would they say that you live justly? That you love mercy and kindness? That you walk humbly with your God?

In what ways do you need to allow yourself to change, to strip away the ego and the self, to allow transformation through the renewing of your mind to take place?

Hard lessons of spiritual growth

While it’s true that we are told to not be weary in doing what is right, in showing kindness, feeding the hungry and working quietly, there are two important lessons that I have learned and continue to learn.

The first is this:

Fill your cup – don’t try to do this in your own strength

The reason that we find ourselves short-tempered and failing at being full of loving-kindness is because we’ve gone back to ego and self. When we try to do it all through “toil and labour”, rather than from a place of being a child of the Divine – filled with Divine Love.

Consider the difference between: we are separate and “should” love, and remembering that we are filled with love and that this is what flows from us naturally. How much easier is it to just focus on being filled with the love of the Divine, allowing it to flow from us effortlessly, versus trying to do it as an act of our own strength?

If I am short-tempered and irritable – it’s not just about me fixing my attitude. The problem is MY attitude – that “separateness” from the Divine. When the ego and I began to play the game, rather than simply being a conduit of Divine love through me.

The solution is discovering where I got off track – at which part of the day did I fail to refill my tank? When did I start to do this in my own strength, rather than remembering that I am simply the vessel that holds the Divine within me?

And the second lesson is:

Show, don’t teach

This one is even harder. How often do you say to your children – “do as I say, not as I do“?

People aren’t so much interested in what we have to say, at least when it doesn’t align with what we do. They are more busy watching us, looking for the authenticity in our words and actions.

Can you walk the talk of kindness? Can you truly be loving, allowing the Divine to flow through you?

Show, don’t tell.

The challenge for all us of is to live a life of loving-kindness that is an example for others to imitate, each working quietly, doing justice and walking humbly.

What would that look like in your life?

How can you put this into practice today?

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” – Harold S. Kushner
“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” – Harold S. Kushner
living authentically, authentic Christians, fruit of the Spirit, speaking the truth in love, let love be genuine, true to self, true to God, authenticity, faith, works, show me your faith apart from your works, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, humility, the truth will set you free

Living authentically – the authentic Christian

One of the reasons that I think Christians get such a bad rap, is that we only ever talk about our struggles behind closed doors – if we admit them at all! Perhaps if we admitted our struggles to those outside of Churches – especially the struggles with ego and learning to truly love, we would find that others were more accepting when we tried to share our journey with them!

But, if your upbringing in the church was anything like mine – God forbid that we admit to others that we have doubts about faith, God and “salvation”. You parrot off that you are sharing God’s love with the world, as you Bible-bash them into salvation.

Read More »
compassion, love, mercy, kindness, empathy, understanding , sensitive, charity, heart, generous, balanced, emotions, alignment, aligned, coherence, coherent, gratitude, coach, life coach, transformation, change, heart-centered

Compassion: loved by the Divine

I’ve spent a lot of time, these last three weeks, in silence – being still with my thoughts. I also spent a lot of time binging on Netflix in between. I was trying to work through a particular pattern in my life that I was sick of repeating!

But, I also had to recognise that I couldn’t spend 8 hours a day just in inner work. I would reach a point where I was tired of thinking and contemplating, and wanted to be mindless and entertained. It felt like too much to try to work it all out.

Read More »
field of mustard, mustard seed, humble, humility, noble cedar, cedar trees, evergreen, faith, growth, branch, uprooted, chopped down, defeated

“A noble cedar or a humble mustard seed?”

A few months ago I threw some avocado seeds into my compost bin, and now I’ve discovered I have a beautiful avocado seedling growing in my compost.  I’ve very happy about that – but all I did was throw it away! I was expecting to make compost, but now I am very pleased that I need to ask Alexis to locate a great place to plant an avocado tree.  And we all know how big an avocado tree can get.  So, I’m not sure where that avocado tree will get planted, but I am pretty sure that it will produce some great avocados!Read More »

For God so loved the world…

Readings:

  • John 3: 16-21
  • Ephesians 2: 4-10

For God so loved the world… that over two thousand years ago, Jesus came to this earth in human form to show us what this love truly means. Through his life, his teachings and his example, we find a new way, a better way. He gave what we may consider to be the ultimate sacrifice, his earthly body, in a painful and excruciating death, so that we might receive the gift of Oneness of our spiritual bodies with God, no longer separated but as Children of God. Through this, we might fully understand the meaning of eternal life, as spiritual beings living continually in the presence of God.  Not waiting for our earthly death for eternity to start, but recognising that we are already living eternity.

Jesus came and taught us humility, as he lived as a refugee in Egypt as a child, much like Syrian refugees live today in Jordan and Lebanon. Do we treat our refugees any better than we have treated Jesus?  How do we treat the refugees from Venezuela? The refugees from Haiti, from Africa? If we imagine that each of these refugees was Jesus, how are we doing?

‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25: 40)

In Matthew 18: 1 we find the disciples discussing “Who really is the greatest in the Kingdom of the heavens?” He calls a child, stands the child in the midst of the disciples and tells them:

“Unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into the Kingdom of the heavens. Therefore, whoever will humble himself like this young child is the one who is the greatest in the Kingdom of the heavens; and whoever receives one such young child on the basis of my name receives me also.”​—Matthew 18:3-5.

As we consider how we are treating the sojourners and refugees among us, then we known how great we are in the Kingdom! Before the last supper, we find Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

Because God so loved us… Jesus showed us the importance of reading the Word, as a twelve year old when he read and discussed in the temple the scriptures. Luke 2: 47 says that “all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” At twelve years old. He not only was willing to read the Bible allowed in the temple, but to answer questions and explain it. And yet, we seem to struggle each week for participants to read the scriptures aloud in church each Sunday.

Jesus showed us dedication and patience, as he worked as a carpenter, under his father’s tutelage. And yet we reject the authority of our parents, failing to honor our mother and father as we are called to do.  We push our way forward for honor and rewards, seeking the limelight, rather than being willing to work in the background.

Because God so loved you… Jesus showed us how to handle the temptations that arise in our day to day lives. Through his temptations of hunger (lust of the body), egoism (misuse of our power) and materialism (kingdoms and wealth) we see what is means to be a child of God, holding fast to that identity, and still standing strong in the knowledge of what that really means. In these temptations, we see the challenge to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God” – are you really a child of God? Prove it.

Through these temptations, we see how the ego wants to use our spiritual power and gifts to satisfy human cravings. This is attempting to turn stones into bread, the attempt to find gratification in using spiritual power to satisfy human, personal desires.And yet, Jesus shows us the better and higher way. Are you fully secure in your identity as a child of God? Can you, like Jesus, respond: “It is written”?  Our human nature wants to demonstrate prosperity and success or healing and “prove” that it works. We think some outer achievement will make us happy and successful. But Jesus teaches us a higher way: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”

Most importantly, Jesus showed us what it really means to have a relationship with God, to have the indwelling of the Spirit. Jesus showed us, in his every day living and loving, what it means to truly be One with God the Father.

John 14: 4-7 promise us:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
…7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

We are reminded of this again in John 17: 21-23

As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 …  so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

For God so loved the World that he sent us Jesus… who taught us what it means to be a child of God (as each one of us has already been called to be). Paul says in Colossians 2:9 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” The Message says “Everything of God gets expressed in him, so that you can see and hear God clearly”.”  Are you living out your life as a son or daughter of God?  Is every quality of God fully expressed in your life and living and loving?

Psalm 82: 6 says in a stunning way:

You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.

The same calling to greatness and Oneness with God that Jesus had, each of us has.  To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is “of God.” We were created by God, in God’s image, to do God’s will on this earth.  And God so loved each one of us, as sons and daughters, that God sent us Jesus to show us the way home.

Jesus reminds us of this in John 10: 33-38:

33 The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.”
34 Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. 38 … know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Like the Prodigal son, we have lived our lives without authority, power, belonging and sharing at the table of the feast: but God loved us. And so today we are reminded of this rich mercy, of the great love with which we are loved. We are made alive in Christ, seated with him, shown the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us! If we are living in separation from God, then we are throwing away the gift of love that was given to us.

And because of this great love that we have been shown, we are all challenged today to love each other! The test of how well we have overcome that which separates us from God is how well we love our brothers and sisters:

John 13: 35

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

compassion, Romans, Matthew, Psalms, Jesus, Christ, Messiah, Paul, countrymen, Christianity, moved to action, Luke, widow, sick, lame, blind, crippled, healed, hungry, practicing presence

Sermon: Compassion

READINGS:

  • Romans 9: 1-15
  • Matthew 14:13-21
  • Psalm 145: 8-9, 14-21

Compassion:

These verses from Matthew & Romans 9 contain a common theme: the compassion of Jesus for the crowd and the compassion of Paul for his Jewish countrymen.  Paul is anguished that his Jewish countrymen cannot see the truth of Christ being the promised Messiah:

9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred … to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, …and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, …

He expresses himself as having great sorrow and unceasing anguish for these, his countrymen: how many of us could say we feel like this for our countrymen in Panama?

Where is our Christianity, if we have no compassion? For so many people, life is hard: every story of the gospels shows us Jesus moved to action.

Take a moment with me, to consider the following passages:

  1. Luke 7: 13 – When the Lord saw her (the widow from Nain whose only son had died), he had compassion on her and said to her “Do not weep.”
  2. Matthew 15: 32 – he had compassion on the crowd that came to him with their sick, lame, blind, crippled, mute and healed them. But more so than this, they were hungry and so he ordered the disciples to feed them, all 4,000 of them!
  3. Matthew 9: 35-38 – Jesus was travelling throughout the cities and villages, teaching, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and affliction. And when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
  4. Matthew 20: 29-34: As Jesus left Jericho, a great crowd was following him and 2 blind men were sitting by the roadside, calling out to him. And Jesus stopped and asked “What do you want me to do for you?”, and they said “Let our eyes be opened”. And moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes, and immediately they regained their sight.

Where have we, as Christians, gone wrong? I cannot imagine a Christ without compassion, but I see so-called Christians without compassion! Where has humanity gone wrong?

I want you to consider a 2, 3 or 4 year old child: if you drop something, they will scuttle to help you pick it up. If they see another child crying, they are anguished and want to make it better. They are anxious to help with the cleaning, the dishes and all those household chores. They are compassionate and caring, they notice the emotions and feelings of those around them.

But then, somewhere along the way, they lose that compassionate nature and they start to think only about self – “I want” and I don’t want to share. What happens to disconnect us from our compassionate nature? Why do we stop taking the time to say “what can I do to help this person”?  We’re living in an epidemic of incivility, disengagement, and despair – in politics, in the work place, in our homes, and even in our church.

What Is Compassion?

Compassion: put simply is empathy PLUS action. It is more than just kindness; it is sensitivity to the suffering of others with a commitment to do something about it. It is:

  • the smile we give to a stranger
  • the food we give to the homeless or our oldies in our AAAM missions program
  • giving someone the benefit of the doubt
  • it is listening to understand, rather than listening to answer back
  • it is making all conversations safe – even when we have a difficult conversation or feedback to give

We all need more compassion in our lives: a totally different perspective when it comes to how you perceive yourself and others. We start with compassion towards those we are in contact with every day in our homes, each week day in the office, or once a week in our Church.

Think of this for a moment:
Let’s say you are very worried about your daughter’s health. You took her to the doctor and he decided to take tests in order to rule out a Dengue Fever. Later that day you are in Arrocha, buying some medicines, preoccupied with your daughter and an acquaintance passes you and says hello. You say hello in return but because you are so deep in thought you don’t stop to chat.
Later on you hear the acquaintance felt insulted because you “snubbed” her. Even though it was not your intention to snub this person, and you had a very good reason for your behavior-the acquaintance assumed the worst.

That is, simply, what most of us do. We assume the worst:

They were rude! They were harsh! They were judgmental! Did you hear the tone in their voice? Did you see the way she looked at me? She ignored me! She walked right past me!

Learning to have more compassion involves making the radical shift to assume the best in others.

What would Balboa Union Church look like if every person in this Church were truly compassionate in word & deed, as Christ was?

Where Do We Start?

First – we start with ourselves!

How good are you at being compassionate to yourself? Do you forgive yourself when you make mistakes? Do you love yourself and your body? Do you take time to ask your body how it’s feeling? If you haven’t identified what you are feeling, how are you going to be able to identify what other people are feeling?  How are you feeling right now? Do you have any aches or pains? Are you feeling nervous or uptight anywhere? Is there tightness in your stomach or a tension in your shoulders? Are you carrying any tension into today from the week that was – are you carrying the past with you? Are you brooding or concerned about the future: where are you holding it in your body?

We start with baby steps: practicing compassion each day. First, I want us to take a small step towards compassion for ourselves:

I want you to think about your body scan that you just finished and what you identified: that part of your body that is tense, tight, aching, whatever it was that you felt: and I want you to bless it. Right here, right now. I want you to pray mercy on yourself. I want you to show yourself some compassion – and instead of complaining about that part of your body, “oh, that knot in my neck”, or “that pain in my knee” or “that old injury that always plays up” – put your hands on it, and say “God bless you”.  Pray love to that part of your body that you always complain about! And every time you feel that ache, pain, tension: I want you to use it as your cue to pray for yourself. Remember God’s love for you, and surround that part of your body with love, acceptance and joy: and bless it. I am sure that you have cursed it enough times already – and I imagine that’s not working for you! So, why not try something different for the next 30 days? Whether it be a slipped disk in your back, a recurring pain in your shoulder, a tightening in your jaw, a sore ankle from when you fell over: let it be reminder to you to love yourself, bless yourself and show yourself and your body some compassion!

Then the second step is showing compassion for your neighbor:

It might be just that person you passed in the street: if you are out and about a lot, in your car, I want to suggest that you use red lights, stop signs or just the traffic jams, and allow them to be your “pause”. Every time you stop, take a deep breath, notice how YOU are feeling, remember you are God’s representative in this world, and then breath out a blessing on another person – maybe a pedestrian that is crossing the street, or the person sitting in the car next to yours, or the traffic cop that is directing the traffic. And each time your car stops, take a moment to pause, to breathe in God’s love, and to exhale a blessing on another person: to reach a point where the red light or stop sign becomes your cue to cultivate compassion, and it helps you establish a habit of compassion for your fellow man.

And then, I want you to bring compassion home, to your house – the place that it is most needed! Unfortunately, most of us treat the people that we live with, our families, with a certain level of disdain that we would not give to others! And it takes extra effort to treat them with compassion, because you really know them, flaws and all! Each morning, take a moment to ask yourself what act of kindness you can perform today in your home, however small.  If you really want a challenge – try the 40-day love dare for your spouse or a person that you live with in the same house!

The world needs Christians that actively practice compassion and caring for their fellow man.  Without compassion, our love towards God is meaningless!

Let’s pray:

Spirit of Life,
Thank you for the opportunities to love that present themselves in the turmoil of life!
When the light catches the tears in another’s eyes, in moments without words, let us be present.
Let us seek to make another’s wellbeing the object of our concern.
Give us compassion and humility in our hearts. Let us be kind, gentle, generous, loving, giving and forgiving wherever we may go. Allow us to be as compassionate as the air we breathe. Give us the strength to help our brother, to pick up those who have fallen. We declare and decree that we will follow the example Jesus has set before us, in his Mighty name we pray!
Amen

 

Sermon: Giving Generously

Lectionary:

Mark 12: 38-44

LEARNING TO GIVE GENEROUSLY

President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

In the spiritual realm we might say to every Christian: “Ask not what God can give to you, but what you can give to God.”

I was recently rather taken aback with a University of Chicago study, which showed that secular children gave more generously than their religious counterparts (Nonreligious children are more generous), asking myself “what are we teaching our children in Church and at home?”.

The new research, done with children in six countries (Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa, and the United States), included 510 Muslim, 280 Christian, and 323 nonreligious children. The study focused on one facet of moral behavior: altruism, or the willingness to give someone else a benefit that also comes with a personal cost.

The test revolved around that ubiquitous childhood currency, stickers. Children ages 5 to 12 met individually with adults who let them choose 10 of their favorite stickers. The children were then told that the adults didn’t have time to distribute the rest of their stickers to other kids in a fictive class. But each child was told they could put some of their 10 stickers in an envelope to be shared with other kids, who were described as being from the same school and ethnic group. The scientists used the number of stickers left in the envelope as a measure of altruism.

The children from nonreligious households left 4.1 stickers on average, a statistically significant difference from Christian children (3.3) and Muslim ones (3.2). Also, the more religious the household, based on a survey of parents, the less altruistic the child. In older children, the split was most stark, with religious youth increasingly unlikely to share.

The most stunning finding, for me, was that some of it was based on “who will know” – i.e. whether or not anyone would know which child gave how much.  The secular children were found to be more consistent in their acts – irrespective of whether someone would know or not that they were the one that gave – they would do good whether or not someone is watching.  As Christians, have we really taught our children to act and behave in a particular way because they think they are being watched, because they think they have to, because it makes them look good and others see them in a good light?

There’s a saying I saw on Facebook:  expectingsomething

If you’re helping someone and expecting something in return, you’re doing business, not kindness.

 

Our reading today from Mark shows a stark contrast between those who simply do good for the perceived benefit that they will receive and those who quietly go about doing good in the background.  Jesus was harsh against the scribes, as teachers of the religious law – because they should know better!

Jesus talks about the practices of the teachers of the law. These were the professional interpreters of the religious laws. They were responsible for copying, editing and studying the sacred texts and explaining them to the people. They were learned men, some of the few in society who could read and write. Having these skills gave them power over others.  They paraded about in flowing robes and were waiting to receive respectful greetings as they walked about.  They looked for the seats of honor and to be seated at the head tables in banquets.  They pretended to be pious by making long prayers in public, because they were paid  by the length of the prayers: they learned the art of making long prayers, because longer the prayer, the more money they received.

Jesus gives quite a damning indictment of the actions and words of the teachers of the law. In fact it’s probably one of the sternest remarks that Jesus ever gave. What would Jesus criticize of the pastors and teachers of today?  We may not wear long flowing robes, or prayer shawls, but I wonder if, in the church we are at times like the teachers, with a religion of show, a religion is is about the outward appearance and not living out the faith in daily life.

And yet, all the while, a poor widow caught Jesus’ eye, for her two pennies – giving everything she had to live on, and putting her trust and faith completely in God to supply her needs.   Keep in mind, that the word poor used in Jesus’ time meant pauper, destitute, in deep poverty.  No doubt her poor dress and appearance showed her desperate plight.  What she gave was a real sacrifice! What the others gave was not a sacrifice! It did not cost them nor hurt them – they gave only what they could spare!

How many times are we giving God the crumbs of the leftovers?  How many times do you find yourself talking from a place of scarcity?  I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough money, there aren’t enough hours in the day, I’m out of energy, I’m too tired? What about your important relationships? Are they getting the best of you, or just the rest of you?  I would really like to, but I just can’t fit it in…

The law of the harvest, the law of sowing and reaping is seen in our giving and in our failure to give. Where are you sowing your time and energy?  If  Jesus spent a day watching you, what would he say about how you are spending your time, your talents and your material wealth?

2 Corinthians 9, verses 10-11 reminds us:

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous…

Giving is an evidence of God’s providence – We are able to give because we believe that God provides.

Before this, 2 Corinthians 9, verses 6 to 8 stated:

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Our generosity is measured not by what others give but what you are capable and willing to give. So if you want to know if you are generous, then evaluate your capability and willingness to give. And this doesn’t just apply to your money – it applies to your time and your talents, to how you are investing every asset (material or otherwise) in your life.

This passage teaches us how much God really wants from us. This goes beyond money. The main example in this passage is money, but it extends into all aspects of our life. This relates to time, abilities, responsibilities, and money.

John Wimber says:

Show me where you spend your time, money and energy, and I’ll tell you what you worship.

If someone wrote your biography on the basis of your checkbook and your appointment diary, what might it say about you, your loyalties, your focus, and about whom you serve?

This morning I pray that when Jesus looks at us as we give – not just this morning but always – I pray that he will find cheerful, extravagant givers, who have discovered that God is able to make all grace abound to us, so that in all things at all times, we will have all that we need, abounding in every good work. Abounding in time, abounding in energy, abounding in patience and grace, abounding in love, and abounding in generosity.