Fall is almost upon us. Giant John Deere harvesters will soon be making their way through Ohio fields, scooping up corn to gather into the proverbial barns. Apples, pumpkins, and persimmons will be ripe for the picking. Cider will be simmering on hot stoves, and thanksgiving dinner will be soon on the table! Harvest season is almost here – my favorite time of year!
But it occurs to me that, at PRBC, the autumn of the year is also a planting season, spiritually and financially. This is the time of year when we have unique opportunities to invest our money to the sowing of gospel seeds among those who need Christ so desperately. Autumn, in our church, is not just harvest, but spiritual planting season!
Beginning in mid-October, and stretching almost until Thanksgiving, we’ll be collecting toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and so on for Samaritan’s Purse and their Operation Christmas Child. With each little shoebox full of goodies that we pack, the child who receives it will also hear the good news of Jesus, and receive written gospel materials in a language they can understand. Many of them will participate, through a local church in their area, in a follow-up Bible study that further explains what it means for them to walk with Jesus. So the few dollars you spend on gifts for these little ones will open a wide door for the good news!
Then, in the month of December, we’ll be collecting our annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions. 100% of the money you give goes directly to support missionaries who are sharing Christ overseas. So much of the world has so little opportunity to hear of Jesus. Therefore every single missionary is extremely valuable. In some places, the families we support may be the only link a particular rural village or city neighborhood has with the good news. Therefore what an investment we can make, if we support such men and women!
So autumn and early winter are, for us, not just harvest … but planting season; time for planting our money into the gospel ground, like seed, and trusting that God will grow a great many gospel plants with it!
Now I know that, during the holidays especially, lots of other claims on our finances begin to make themselves known. There are big meals to serve. There are parties to attend. There are, of course, all those gifts that our culture tells us we simply must purchase. And so it may seem as though this is the time of year when we can least afford to be giving lots of money away. But have faith in God! He loves a cheerful giver! And consider this proverb: There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more (Proverbs 11.24).
The picture is of a man – we’ll call him Mr. Generous – who has a large wagonload of seed, all ready to scatter on his field at planting time. But he looks around and sees that his neighbors have much smaller fields, and mush less seed in their wagons. And so he drives along the edges of his field, right along the fence row, and begins throwing large handfuls of his own seed onto his neighbors property. Widow Jones gets five bags’ worth. Farmer Brown gets three, to provide a little extra for his children. Several more go across into the land of Mr. Smith, whose crop turned out so poorly last year.
And, when harvest finally comes, what do we find in the fields around Mr. Generous’s farm? Widow Jones has more than enough this autumn. Farmer Brown and his children have the best Thanksgiving ever. Mr. Smith has enough and to spare. And, wonder of wonders, Mr. Generous appears to be having the best crop he’s seen in many a year – even though he gave away so much of his seed! For “there is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more.” God honors those who honor Him! And if that is true with physical seeds, how much more when we invest in those who preach the gospel!
So let’s make sure, as autumn approaches, that we consider it not only the season of harvest, but a planting season as well!