How to Get What You Really Want: Give it Away

by Joe Plemon on April 16, 2010

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Creative Commons License photo credit: CIAT – International Center for Tropical Agricultu

I have a friend who is a giver. Although near 70, he is the first to show up when anyone has any type of need. Be it pitching in to help remodel a house or chain sawing fallen trees after a storm or simply helping to cook and deliver Thanksgiving meals, Gary volunteers. It is therefore no surprise that when he has a need, people bump into each other trying to respond. Gary is a great example of the Harvest Principle: we reap what we sow.

This principle is stated more fully as “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest . The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others–ignoring God!– harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit”. Gal 6:7-9

What is your need?

As unlikely as it seems, the best way to see that need fulfilled is to give away what you need. I know it is totally illogical, but you should give money if you need money. If you are short of time, you are probably thinking, “Time is something I just don’t have enough of. How can I be giving my time to someone else?” What if you are struggling with depression and need some joy in your life? Buy some helium balloons and go visit a nursing home. The principle of the harvest is that we plant first, and then we harvest.

How does this work?

We receive in the same kind.

We would think it most strange if we planted watermelon seeds and grew corn. The bible says that what a man plants, he will harvest. Good or bad. Therefore we need to be very careful about what kinds of seeds we are planting. Are you planting selfishness? Don’t expect others to be generous toward you. Do you ignore the needs of others around you? Do you ignore God himself? Don’t be surprised if you don’t receive the blessings He has in store for you. But if you pray for others, help others, and are generous toward others, you can expect that those same qualities will flow your way.

We receive more than we plant.

When you plant one seed, you can expect a plant to grow which will produce hundreds of the same seeds. God’s supply is limitless, so don’t be surprised at the huge crop you receive from what you have planted. One smile to another person may well bring a huge party your way.

We receive in a different season.

Life is lived in seasons. If you plant some tomato seeds in the spring, you don’t expect to be able to pick fresh tomatoes the next day. The season isn’t right. Years ago, when Janice and I planted our first vegetable garden, I remember how impatient I was for those seedlings to appear, then for the plant to grow and then for the vegetables to appear and then for them to get ripe enough to pick. However, once I grasped this principle, I was OK with waiting. It is the same way with life: those harvests will come, but we are just not sure when. We need to be more like Johnny Appleseed, who used his energy to plant seeds instead of becoming fixated on the harvest.

We need to give with no ulterior motives.

Some have selfishly twisted this principle, believing that God “owes” them a harvest because of what they have given. But, of course, giving with the sole purpose of receiving is not generosity at all; it is a form of selfishness. And those who sow selfishness will reap, according to our passage, weeds. The harvest principle is to give generously, thinking of the good of the other person. God knows your motives and will reward you accordingly.

We will know for sure who our source is.

When we give away what we have, we are no longer trusting our own ingenuity or resources. If we are to receive, the source must be outside of ourselves. Of course, as Christians, we believe that God is our total source, so giving is a discipline that teaches us to trust God.

Example of Yakezie Challenge

I apologize to those of you who are tired of hearing me talk about this challenge, but it seems to be a perfect application of the harvest principle. The Yakezie Challenge is simply a group of bloggers who have joined together to help each other succeed in the world of blogging. Our unofficial marching orders are, “write great content and promote others.” I have discovered a tremendous spirit of helping and sharing in the group. Yes, we know that when we promote others, we will eventually be promoted by others. But we don’t know when and how and no one is keeping score. In fact, it seems to me that the more we promote each other the more we want to promote each other.

It is the law of the harvest in action. Good stuff.

This post was featured in Christian Carnival hosted by Other Food

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristine April 16, 2010 at 9:27 am

Great article. I think in our culture we get really impatient. We lack the faith that our seeds that are planted will produce the harvest. We want to dig up that seed just to make sure that it’s still there growing!

I heard one thing that really made sense to me. When a baby is past the due date, the parents don’t think…”oh well, I guess the baby is not coming after all..” Of course he/she is coming! We just continue to prepare for the day the bundle of joy is born. Same goes with our seeds..have faith. Believe without seeing.

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joeplemon April 16, 2010 at 11:47 am

Kristine,
I love the baby analogy. Of course that baby is coming! … Even if he is a bit late. Now – let’s see if I can just apply it to the harvest principle in my own life when the harvest doesn’t seem to be on time.

I didn’t develop the Johnny Appleseed thought very much, but I like to think that Johnny didn’t worry too much about delayed harvests. Why? He was too busy planting.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you taking the time to share a great and helpful thought.

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Jason @ Redeeming Riches April 17, 2010 at 9:44 am

Great post Joe! It’s so paradoxical, but the more we give the more we receive, but like you said – that should NEVER be the motive behind the giving!

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Chris Krycho April 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

I think your clarification at the end was most helpful. I have so often seen people reduce this to, “As long as you give generously, you’ll get LOTS of money.” The American dream writ large in Christianese! Of course, God’s blessings may not look at all like what we would want or expect, and they almost never come when we would wish, but he is faithful to his promises.

And of course, it is most helpful to remember that above all, we are storing up treasures and earning rewards in heaven. A little bit of heavenwardness helps our hearts quite a lot.

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joeplemon April 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

Chris,
Thanks for your insightful words. I too am wary of those who promote giving for the purpose of getting. They somehow make me think of infomercial hawks…”and that is not all. If you act (give) now, you will also get this … ” The American dream writ large in Christianese…what a great phrase!

Yes, storing up treasures in heaven does help our hearts considerably!

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Serina September 11, 2010 at 2:07 am

I lack energy and good health. How would I give these?

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joeplemon September 11, 2010 at 10:57 am

Serina,
Of course I cannot give specifics and I would sound patronizing to simply tell you to give them away. Yet, I still believe that if you are intentional about such things as helping others (energy) and visiting shut-ins (health), you will eventually discover that you will have more energy and better health.

This is not a magic formula, but nevertheless a principle that God challenges us to try. Remember my paragraph on giving with no ulterior motives. If we give so we can get, our motives are skewed. True charity is simply giving. The “getting” part is up to God.

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