Yesterday, in between showers, I took Molly dog for a walk in the park and I noticed these beautiful leaves that had fallen to the ground. When I found them they were still glossy and supple and felt full of life. But this morning they have begun to dry and fade and will eventually become lifeless.
Of course, whilst they were still part of the tree, they created and stored energy, from the water supplied by the tree, the carbon dioxide supplied by the air and sunlight – microscopic sugars. This energy was then shared with the tree to build up its branches and produce more growth and leaves – a perfect example of giving and receiving, of mutual generosity
However, once a leaf becomes separated from the tree, all of its stored energy is useless, its beauty begins to fade, and you are left with nothing except a mulch for the garden or crumbly dust.
We too can be full of energy and life, have more than enough reserves to sustain our way in the world, and plenty of opportunities to share what we have to make a difference, but if we keep these things to ourselves, storing up treasures in ever increasing amounts then we become like these leaves. We will have broken that connection to the source, and that mutually beneficial relationship that enables us to grow and flourish will have been severed; our riches will be worth nothing more than the likelihood of becoming someone else’s rich compost.
The saying, ‘you reap what you sow’ comes in many guises throughout the bible, from proverbs and psalms, prophets and parables, but the underlying message is clear, the amount you receive is equal to the amount you give and vice versa. In our New Testament reading, Paul is reminding the Corinthians about the principles of Christian giving. Giving is like sowing seed: what you get is linked to what you give. In Christian giving both the thought and the attitude count. We are reminded that God is the greatest giver. He provides in all kinds of ways – in crops and food and spiritual gifts. His greatest gift being to send his only Son, Jesus, to be the Saviour of the world
The Corinthians, like us, will discover that by changing their attitude to giving that they themselves will receive more. They, like us, will be enabled and encouraged to be generous, both now and in the future. This will be a harvest of praise to God when people see his grace in their lives. So, more than ever we need to give generously, willingly, and cheerfully, of our time, of our talents, of our resources; because what we will receive back will be so much more
But wait, haven’t we heard this exhortation to be more generous so many times before. Haven’t we for a moment taken stock and reviewed what we already give in time, talents and resources and decided that we can say we are giving in at least one of these ways very generously so surely that counts?
I wonder though if God takes stock and reviews his generosity or does he simply pour out more blessings in abundance hoping some will at least try to match him.
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance,
so that by always having enough of everything,
you may share abundantly in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8
Time, talents, and resources, it should never be a case of which one should I choose to be generous in…
Generosity of time should not be counted in hours and minutes, but being willing to offer enough time and more, so that things can be accomplished that will benefit not only ourselves but others too.
Generosity of talents should not be scored by the ability to outshine everyone else as the star of the show, but by sharing those skills to enable everyone to rise to their full potential
And generosity of resources should never be about percentages. If you have sufficient then the rest is a surplus, which might just be the necessary amount to provide for those with little or nothing.
As Christians and church members, we carry within us the seeds of faith, seeds that are to be sown to enrich each and every life that comes into contact with our own, to make those connections. God generously supplies the water, the spirit and the light and we are called to convert that into a generous life-giving energy. This is grace and it is freely given, is inexhaustible and unextinguishable.
This is our generous God, let us be his generous people. Amen
A sermon for Harvest Festival based on 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15 and Luke 12:16-30