I love the story in Luke where Jesus was watching the offering box as people gave. Many people gave large amounts and people took notice. Then there was a widow woman who walked up. She grabbed two small coins and put them in the offering. Jesus exclaimed that this poor widow had given more than everyone else. Confused, the disciples wondered how. Jesus then explained that others gave out of their abundance, but she gave from her need. She didn’t find an excuse not to give because she was generous.
God loves it when we learn to give generously. I say “learn” because for most of us, it’s not natural to be generous. We’ve worked hard for our money and value it, but that is often what makes us stingy. When we are stingy, we forget that God is our source of income. We think of ourselves as the provider and therefore want to only give when we have left over money. But if we view God as our provider, we see the money as His and are free to give it away.
Deuteronomy 15:10 says, “Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers GOD, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures” (MSG). When we give generously, it triggers God’s blessing in every area of our life. It tells God that you no longer see yourself as the source of your income, and that means He can trust you with more.
In Luke 6:38, Jesus put it this way, “Give and it shall be given unto you.” He went on to say that the same measure you use to give, will be used to give back to you. When we are generous, God is generous. You don’t have to have a lot to give a lot in God’s eyes. He can take a small gift and multiply it so there’s left overs (see the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish). We have to get out of the scarcity mindset and into the abundant one. Give freely and spontaneously. It’s not your money anyway – it’s God’s!
When we go through hard times, we all want to know why. What did we do to deserve it? Why does it have to last so long? Did God abandon us? Has He forgotten us? How much more can we endure before we break? These are all questions we think about when we go through the fire of trials. It’s been my experience that it’s not until well after that I begin to get any insight into it, if at all. So why does God allow us to face unbearable conditions?
In a word, it’s transformational. There can be no transformation in our lives without hard times. They mold us, purify us, and move us from one place to another. As my nephew says, “No pressure, no diamond.” The problem is, we want the diamond without the pressure. We want the transformation without the trial. We want strength without having to endure heavy lifting. We want things now instead of later, but that’s not how God works, nor is it how we were designed.
In Psalm 66:10-12 it says, “You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance” (NLT). It was God who tested them, put a heavy burden on them, and sent them through the fire and flood. He does the same to us today. It’s not fun, it hurts, and it’s hard to get through at times, but God has a plan.
As the psalmist wrote, He’s purifying us in order to bring us to a place of abundance. You can’t get to the abundance without going through the purification of fire. When those times come remember that if you will endure it, God is working it out for your good. He’s bringing you to a place that you could never get to without having gone through it. Also remember his promise in Isaiah 42:3, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” He’s there with you in these times and won’t let them crush you. Hang in there, abundance is coming.
One of my favorite quotes is, “I don’t measure my day by the harvest I bring in, but by the seeds that I plant. For in planting seeds, I ensure a future harvest.” So many people measure their success by what they bring in each day, but their future is not guaranteed. Only by planting seeds can we make sure we will receive something in the future. In order to have seeds to plant, we have to save seeds from our current harvest. We can’t use everything we have now if we are going to be able to reap later.
Psalm 126:5-6 really stands out to me when I think about this principle. It says, “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing. He who goes forth bearing seed and weeping [at needing his precious supply of grain for sowing] shall doubtless come again with rejoicing , bringing his sheaves with him” (AMP). It’s a verse we’ve heard all our lives, but in this version it really hits home. They’re weeping because they’re having to go hungry now in order to be able to eat later.
It reminds me of when the Pilgrims first arrived. Their corn ration was a few kernels a day. They needed to plant the rest so they could survive later. They sacrificed in the now in order to have abundance later. This concept is so opposite of our world today. We want abundance without the sacrifice. We want to reap when we haven’t planted, and that’s not the system God set up for us. I like how Dave Ramsey says, “Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.”
I believe many of us don’t see the harvest we expect because we don’t sacrifice in the sowing. Abundance will cost you. If you aren’t willing to give up your current desires for your future successes, there’s no guarantee you’ll be bringing in sheaves. God has always asked us to sacrifice now for a future blessing. The more you are willing to sacrifice, the more of God’s blessing you can count on in the future. The choice is yours, but you have to act today for tomorrow’s gain.