Giving is Like a Garden

Old Testament Reading: Numbers 26 & 27

Psalms Reading: Psalm 72

*New Testament Reading: 2 Corinthians 9

Giving generously is like sowing seeds in a garden. Just as a farmer must plant a plentiful amount of seeds to reap a bountiful harvest, Christians must give generously to receive God’s blessings. In 2nd Corinthians 9, Paul emphasizes the importance of giving with a willing heart, not out of compulsion or obligation. When we give with a cheerful heart, it is like planting our seeds in rich soil, knowing that they will grow into a plentiful harvest.

Furthermore, just as a garden requires consistent care and attention, our giving requires consistent effort and a dedication to meeting the needs of others. Paul reminds us that our giving is not only an act of obedience to God but also a way to meet the needs of others. When we give generously, we are like gardeners tending to our plants, making sure they have enough water, sunlight, and nutrients to thrive. Our giving provides the necessary resources for those in need to grow and flourish.

Like a garden, our giving should also be done with a spirit of thanksgiving and praise. When we give with a joyful heart, we are like flowers blooming in the sun, displaying their vibrant colors and beauty. Giving generously not only blesses those in need but also brings glory and honor to God. It is like a garden bursting with life and color, a testament to the abundance of God’s grace and provision.

Finally, just as a garden produces a bountiful harvest, our giving produces a harvest of righteousness. When we give generously and joyfully, we are like farmers reaping a plentiful harvest, knowing that God’s blessings will overflow in our lives. Our giving is a tangible way to demonstrate our faith and commitment to following Christ’s example of selflessness and generosity.

In conclusion, 2nd Corinthians 9 teaches us that giving generously is like sowing seeds in a garden. Just as a garden requires consistent care and attention, our giving requires consistent effort and a dedication to meeting the needs of others. When we give with a cheerful heart, it is like planting our seeds in rich soil, knowing that they will grow into a plentiful harvest. May we be inspired by the simile of the garden to give generously and joyfully, trusting in God’s abundant provision and blessings.

-Austin Kizer

Questions for Reflection

  1. How can you cultivate a heart of generosity and joy in your giving?
  2. In what ways have you seen God bless your giving, whether it be in material provision or in the transformation of lives?
  3. What steps can you take to consistently care for and tend to the needs of those around you?
  4. What has God revealed about Himself in your Bible reading today?

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

1 Corinthians 8

June 9

While we now live in an era where information is at the tips of our fingers, just a few swipes and searches away, knowledge still holds as much power as ever. At the beginning of this chapter, Paul reminds us of this crucial fact when he says, “… But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3) Here, Paul highlights how gaining knowledge can lead to becoming arrogant and result in divisions between people. He then explains the flip side of this coin: love. By using what we do know for the benefit of others, we can become better leaders in the church and set an example for how to live a life like Christ. To better elaborate on this concept, Paul addresses a question the people of Corinth had for him concerning eating food sacrificed to idols.

Later in the chapter, Paul states, “… yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live But not everyone possesses this knowledge…” (1 Corinthians 8:6-7a) Since Christians are aware that all things come from God, it was clear at the time that the meat in the markets was just meat, despite its old use in rituals to idols past. As more experienced Christians were aware of this fact, they would eat the meat casually as they should; however, as Paul states, not everyone knows this information. To the average individual, seeing the meat could still serve as a reminder of the idols of the past, and witnessing Christians eating this same meat could cause confusion and make one deviate in their faith. It’s here where Paul warns us, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

The rest of the chapter really speaks for itself as Paul describes how wounding someone with knowledge by being that stumbling block also hurts yourself. In verses 11-13, Paul writes, “So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” The result of not being responsible with our knowledge is devastating because not only do we sin against the individuals concerned, but we also sin against Christ. However, as mentioned previously, there is a flip side to all of this. If we are responsible with this powerful knowledge and use it lovingly, then we can build upon one another. It’s no easy feat of course—like giving up meat for good, as Paul describes—but by preventing the fall of those around us, we can continue to raise our commitment to Christ together.

— Austin Kizer

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How do you use your knowledge to grow closer to Christ? Do your actions and applications of this knowledge show other people your firmness in faith, or are you sending mixed signals? 
  2. A unique phrase in this chapter was “stumbling block for the weak”. What are different stumbling blocks that the world throws at us, and how can we combat them to stay firm in our faith?
  3. With knowledge about Christianity becoming more accessible to people worldwide, it’s important to hone in on the areas that we can directly impact. Discuss how Christians in this modern day can share their knowledge and build relationships with people in their community.

The Blessing With a Price

Genesis 27

February 4

This Bible story is one of the classics, and I am happy to revisit it because when I was younger, I had no clue what the moral of the story could be. Genesis 27 features Isaac, now old and blind, his wife Rebekah, and his two sons Esau and Jacob. In his old age, Isaac realizes that his death is drawing nearer every passing day, so he instructs his eldest son Esau to go out and hunt some wild game to prepare for him in exchange for his blessing. As Esau goes out to hunt, Rebekah, having heard all this, instructs Jacob to fetch two young goats to make just the way his father likes it. She then proceeds to dress Jacob in Esau’s clothing and adorned the open parts of his skin with goatskins so that he can receive Esau’s blessing from Isaac.

Their plan ends up working as Jacob receives Esau’s blessing, and I remember thinking as a kid, “Well, that just doesn’t seem fair.” I had all sorts of questions fill my mind, and I was so distracted by this that I neglected the second part of the story as a kid. When Esau returns and learns that his blessing has been stolen, he does not respond in a very loving manner. He makes plans to kill Jacob! Rebekah learns of this and warns Jacob, telling him that he must flee until Esau’s anger subsides and he forgets what happened in the first place. The chapter comes to an end with Rebekah setting Jacob’s escape plan in action.

After some reflection, it’s no wonder I didn’t understand the moral of the chapter as a kid because it’s something we’re told all the time but doesn’t really click until you’re older and more experienced. This part of the Esau and Jacob story teaches us that our actions have consequences. Here, Jacob receives all the blessings from his father and is set up to live a successful life, but once his brother found out what he did, Jacob had to leave behind everyone he loved and all he owned to go somewhere unfamiliar to save his life. All the deception was for naught as Jacob had to give up his peaceful life at home to live in strange new lands with only the clothes on his back and supplies to get there. As we go throughout life, it is easy to forget that every little thing we do has consequences. They may be seen immediately afterward or they may even show up way down the line, but as a family of believers, we must hold one another accountable to ensure that our actions produce consequences that are pleasing to God and the life that he wants us to live.

-Austin Kizer

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Why do you think Rebekah wanted Jacob to receive Isaac’s blessing instead of Esau? What would you have done in Jacob’s position if Rebekah proposed this idea to you?
  2. Was Esau’s reaction justified or overboard? How do you think this reaction will impact Jacob and Esau’s relationship moving forward?
  3. Was there ever a time when you recognized the consequences of your actions? What did you learn from this experience? How did it impact similar situations later on?

Tomorrow we will be reading Genesis 37

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