I am not much of a gardener myself, but I try. I had to chuckle when my daughter shared a story about how my youngest grandson and his daddy planted some seeds in their garden the other day. In examining the packages of seeds, there were some with larger seeds in them, taking up much space in the package. These impressed him because he could see and touch each one. Then there were the radishes. The wee seeds in the bottom of the package just did not impress him as much. In fact, he told her to look at the meagerness of the contents and announced that this was a waste of her money! All he could see was the seeming emptiness of the package, not the volume of tiny seeds he was planting. If he had taken the time to spread them out one by one on the table, he'd have seen there were probably a hundred or more seeds in there - they were just tiny! It made me chuckle because he saw it as a waste of his momma's money - like she had been ripped off by receiving a tiny bit of seed way in the bottom of this package. If he could only recognize each of those tiny seeds as having the potential to make as many of those seeds again, he might change his mind! Never underestimate the potential of a tiny seed!
Remember this saying, “A few seeds make a small harvest, but a lot of seeds make a big harvest.” Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. The Scriptures say, “God freely gives his gifts to the poor, and always does right.” God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. (2 Corinthians 9:6-11 CEV)
Both of my grandsons have been taught the value of giving to others - sharing what they have and being thoughtful to those around them. I know this is a direct reflection of the way their parents have taught them to treat others, but it is also a direct reflection of their hearts being filled with the love of Jesus. It is not uncommon for one of them to rush to the side of their great-grandmother's side, bringing her cane from where it rests, and helping her to navigate from one point to another. They take extra time to help her see what they are trying to show her, even though she may never see it clearly. Their notes of love come often and are always handwritten and done with such care. They have learned to give their love - not just expect it in return. They don't give their love away without a return, though - for their "GG's" heart is filled with much love for these two boys! Love freely and it comes back to you multiplied, my friends!
Seeds have a way of providing a harvest. Plant a few and you will reap a harvest - plant all you have and you will fill the barns! One of the principles we live by in our family is this concept of giving first, saving for future needs, and then learning to live off the rest. Dave Ramsey actually teaches this principle. If we see how God prioritizes our "use" of what we have at our disposal, we often find he puts it exactly in this order. Learning to give out of our "first-fruits" is a principle taught since the beginning of time. God doesn't need the "first-fruits", but he knows we need to give them. They are the first of much more to come - they are the promise of a greater harvest. When we learn to give BEFORE we see the abundance of the harvest, we are giving out of a heart of love. When we wait for the harvest to all be in before we give any out, we are just giving out of our abundance - there is really no sacrifice there!
This idea of being a "cheerful giver" is more than just being glad we gave. It carries this idea of being so in tune with the heart of God that we just cannot help but allow this love we have experienced to spill over in our giving. My grandson planted those tiny black seeds, even though he concluded his mom got ripped off by the meager contents of the package. When he begins to see the fruitfulness of his planting, he may just draw the conclusion that it wasn't so much a waste of money! He didn't see the potential in the seed, but he put it in the ground anyway. Sometimes, we give in this manner. We don't see the potential in our giving, but we do it anyway. We don't see the love we give as mattering to another - but we give it anyway. We don't see the forgiveness we extend as making any difference to the other person - but we give it anyway. We are giving "first-fruit" gifts because we delight in sharing the love and grace we have been given. It may not seem to matter at first, but give freely and the harvest will come.
I know this passage deals with our financial gifts, but remember this principle applies to all we possess. Grace and love are two divinely provided gifts in our lives - therefore, we possess them and can freely give both. First-fruit giving suggests we give even when we don't see the potential in the harvest as of yet. If we started giving away God's love and grace in this way, I wonder what kind of harvest we might just yield? Just askin!