You Been Farming Long?
We’ve all seen the picture of the two boys in overalls captioned by the words, “You been farming long?”
Growing up in a small farming town, I found summer and weekend employment in the agriculture business. I’ve driven tractors, scouted peanuts, worked cows, shoveled grain bins, etc. One thing that has always puzzled me is the lack of farmers who attend church. I can’t think of another occupation that would require more faith in God than farming. Now, I know that those in agriculture have put in a lot of work in enhancing seeds, soil, and irrigation, but when it comes down to it, there’s nothing man can do to make a seed grow. When you boil farming down to it’s barest, it is an industry completely dependent upon God. Farming requires faith.
The faith of a farmer is even mentioned in the Bible. “And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).
Now, back to the question posed by our young, red-cap wearing agronomist above. May I ask you, “You been farming long?” To clarify, have you been planting seeds in God’s kingdom? We discussed some of the different types of seeds you might plant back in our first week. You could plant your time…your stuff…your space…or your money, etc.
(Before we go further, let me say that all of these have been abused through erroneous theology and self-seeking clergy. When I speak of you giving of yourself, your things, or your money, I am not using this in the same sense that many “preachers” you might see on TV, pleading with you to make a $20 faith gift, in order for you to receive some sort of divinely promised financial blessing. Plainly put, this is at best poor theology, and at worst a money making scam clothed in a few out of context bible verses.)
For a farmer to be successful, he must first place seeds in the ground. Never planting a seed is a sure-fire way to fail at farming. If I may speak a bit more plainly, are you putting seeds into God’s soil, or are you keeping them in storage? Remember, putting seeds into the ground is an act of faith. You can never reap what you never sow (2 Corinthians 9:6). Could it be that so many of us struggle to give to God in various ways, because we are really struggling with our faith?
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-12
Take a moment and read over these verses carefully and thoughtfully. What do these verses teach us about God? What do they teach us about giving?
A Cheerful Giver
Have you ever received a gift from a child? Perhaps it was a drawing made by your son or daughter? Maybe it was a gift from a grandchild?
One thing that always amazes me about receiving a gift from a child is the attitude in which they give. They give with excitement, believing that they have given something that will bring the receiver much enjoyment. When my three children give me birthday presents, they always want me to open their gift first. They enjoy giving. They see it as an expression of love and know that it will be received with gratefulness. To them, their gift is important. They, in many ways, exemplify the heart of a cheerful giver.
Take a peak at 2 Corinthians 9:7 again. You may read this verse and at first glance respond, “See. I shouldn’t give, because my heart’s not in it.” Or, “There. I shouldn’t be giving because it would be under compulsion, so I just won’t give.” But take a closer look. Paul gives us a reason for not giving. Quite simply, it is a heart problem. The heart of the individual isn’t bringing about an attitude of generosity. I suppose the reasons for this could be broad. Perhaps the heart issue is greed. Maybe it’s fear of what may happen tomorrow. We could continue to speculate, but Paul makes it clear that our giving is directly related to the condition of our heart.
The good news for us is that Paul gives us the remedy to this problem in verse 8. God is able to provide for all of your needs! All of the time! Do you, in your heart, believe that “God is able” to completely provide for your needs at all times? I’ve personally learned that he can and will. I hope you realize this truth in your life.
God is a giver, and giving reflects a trust and gratitude for his gifts to us.
In what ways or in what circumstances in your life have you been reminded of God’s gracious giving and faithful provision?
Would you be willing to pause for a moment and give Him thanks for His gifts to you?