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The Human Longing for a Meaningful Harvest

As tedious and tiresome as it can be, there's something soothing about the sound and smell of leaves as you rake, and something satisfying about seeing them all bundled up when you're done.

What is it about raking leaves that's so satisfying? It has to do with the harvest. Human beings have a primal urge to sow and reap, to gather a crop, to bundle the fruits of their labor. To a farmer, the harvest represents a year's worth of planting and tending, of watching and waiting and wondering. When the last sheaf is bundled and the storehouse is full, the farmer feels a sense of satisfaction and gratitude.

Most of us are not farmers, so raking leaves is about as close as we'll come to bringing a harvest home. But the satisfaction we find in gathering that weightless, worthless crop is an expression of our God-given longing to do something with our lives: to sow and reap a harvest of significance. When we come to the end of a year, or to the end of our lives, we want to have something to show for our efforts. We want to gather the fruits of our labor, and we hope for an abundant harvest.

How can we manage our resources in a way that yields an abundant harvest? According to Paul, the answer is to give generously. Paul writes in verse 6, "Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." That seems to have been a popular saying of Paul's day. Something like today's "what goes around comes around." But Paul takes it to a new level of meaning.

It's often called the law of the harvest: you reap what you sow. If you sow barley, you reap barley. You'd have to be pretty foolish to sow barley and expect wheat. Not only that, but the more you sow, the more you reap. If you sow 10 acres of barley in the springtime, you can expect 10 acres worth of barley at harvest time. But don't expect a harvest of 40 acres if you only sowed 10. It doesn't work that way. The more you scatter, the more you gather. Paul applies that simple principle to finances: the more you give, the more you gather. In the same way that a farmer who sows generously reaps generously, a person who gives generously is blessed generously. Put another way, the more generously we give, the more abundantly God provides.

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