One of my Old Testament professors, when I was a student at Manchester University, was the great H. H. Rowley. He was a master of languages, both ancient and modern, and I found it hard to believe that this world-famous professor had once been a trainee pastor in a small church visiting the sick and elderly. Yet he once confessed to a small group of us in his home one evening how he put his foot in it when visiting an old lady from the church who, as he left, handed him a not inconsiderable amount of money for him to put into the church’s thanksgiving fund. He said “I can’t take all that: you need to consider your own needs a little.” She flashed back “I’m not giving it to you young man, but to God -you are merely the postman.”
Frankly I marvelled that anyone could ever speak to the great Rowley in such a way, but then he was giving us the lesson that the old lady taught him, namely that giving to God is never a calculated measure but a personal expression of love and gratitude. Or, as Paul said to the Corinthians “You will always be rich enough to be generous”.
Sir Cliff Richard once confessed to a feeling of total helplessness when in one of the poorest places on earth, in a home where food was so scarce we would use the word ’starvation’: nevertheless they insisted on giving him a simple meal. He didn’t need it – they did. He didn’t even want it. But he ate it because to refuse the gift would have hurt them, and their sense of loving hospitality far more than any addition to their own diet. He responded well to their loving, lavish giving. Well done Cliff.
Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
II Corinthians 9: 6 and 11
God of all grace, help me not only to be a generous giver, but a sensitive receiver.
Now revise II Corinthians chapter 8, and then read chapter 9. But beware these words could damage your self-satisfaction!