Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously…And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2nd Corinthians 9: 6, 8

The words above were written by the apostle Paul. They are part of his encouragement to the Gentile churches (in Greece and Asia Minor) to take up an offering meant for the believers in Jerusalem—a place most had never seen and never would see. If you take time to read chapters 8 and 9 of the second letter to the Corinthians (which I recommend) you will see that two whole chapters of this letter are about this special offering. That is a staggeringly large amount of text about taking up an offering for those in another land.

I pastored churches where we griped and groused anytime we were asked to give anything that went beyond the borders of our own church or town. Anytime the conference tithe was mentioned people groaned and rolled their eyes, imagining how we would use that money for our own needs and ministries. We always paid it, and other outside-our-own-walls requests. If we hadn’t, I don’t think Paul would have been particularly gentle in writing to us. Besides, God had blessed us abundantly,

so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2nd Corinthians 9: 8

One of the side effects of the recent denominational turmoil in our churches is that many churches have lost persons, or fear losing persons, and so have become hyper-focused on survival. They have become the center of their own universe. Their sowing circumference is getting smaller at just the time it needs to widen. This is not a biblical perspective, nor Wesleyan.

Once we start to pull in, and look only at what is near, that black hole pulls us in tighter and tighter until it crushes our generosity and snuffs out our life. Pretty soon we won’t want to give to the person across town, or across the street, or maybe even across the aisle in the sanctuary. Contrast that with the sower who scatters the seed far and wide. The wider his or her sowing circumference, the greater the harvest.

Faith says that God has given us what we need, so that we may abound in every good work, both near and far, for our own needs and for others, in our town and in towns we will never see. Faith says we are to be generous in spirit, then let that spirit cover the question of geography. Faith says to do the best we can, focusing not on what we lack, but on what God has given us to share.

Glenn Howell

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Glenn Howell
Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana