One of the main hindrances to living your best life now is selfishness. As long as you are focused on what you want, what you need, you will never experience God`s best. But if you really want to thrive, you must learn to be a giver.
The Scripture says, €œWhatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap. All through the Bible, we find the principle of sowing and reaping. Just as a farmer must plant some seed if he hopes to reap the harvest, we, too, must plant some good seed in the fields of our families, careers, businesses, and personal relationships.
What if the farmer decided that he didn`t really feel like planting, that he was tired, so he €œfelt led to sit around and hope the harvest would come in? He`d be waiting around his whole life! No, he must get the seed in the ground. That`s the principle God established. In the same way, if we want to reap good things, we, too, must sow some good seeds. Notice, we reap what we sow if you want to reap happiness, you have to sow some €œhappiness seeds by making other people happy if you want to reap financial blessings, you must sow financial seeds in the lives of others. If you want to reap friendships, you should sow a seed and be a friend. The seed always has to lead.
The reason many people are not growing is because they are not sowing. They are living self-centered lives. Unless they change their focus and start reaching out to others, they will probably remain in that condition.
Some people say, Joel, I`ve got a lot of problems. I don`t care about sowing seeds. I want to know how I can get out of my mess. This is how you can get out of your mess, if you want God to solve your problems, help solve somebody else`s problem. Get some seed in the ground!
FAMINE IN THE LAND
In biblical times, a great famine struck the land of Canaan. People didn`t have any food or water, and they were in desperate need. So Isaac did something that people without insight may have thought rather odd: €œIn the middle of that famine, Isaac sowed a seed in the land. And in the same year he received one hundred times what he planted and the Lord rewarded him greatly. In his time of need, Isaac didn`t wait around, expecting someone else to come to his rescue. No, he acted in faith. He rose up in the midst of that famine and sowed a seed. God supernaturally multiplied that seed, and it brought him out of his need.
Maybe you are in some sort of famine today. It could be a financial famine; or maybe you`re simply famished for friends, it`s possible you need a physical healing. Perhaps you need peace in your home. Whatever the need, one of the best things you can do is to get your mind off yourself and help meet somebody else`s need. If you`re down and discouraged today, don`t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Go find somebody to cheer up. Sow some seeds of happiness. That`s the way to receive a harvest. The seed always has to lead.
When you meet other people`s needs, God has promised that He will make sure your needs are supplied. If you want to see healing and restoration come to your life, go out and help somebody else get well. The Bible says, €œIn times of difficulty; trust in the Lord and do good. It`s not enough to say, €œGod, I trust You. I know You are going to meet all my needs. That`s tantamount to the farmer not planting any seeds and expecting a fabulous harvest. Scripture says there are two things we must do in times of trouble. First, we must trust in the Lord: and second, we must go out and do something good. Go out and sow some seeds. If you need a financial miracle, go buy somebody a cup of coffee tomorrow morning, or give a little extra in the offering at church. If you don`t have any in money, do some physical work for somebody; mow somebody`s lawn, pull some weeds, wash their windows. Make someone a pie. Do something to get some seed in the ground.
If you are lonely or lacking in friends, don`t sit at home month after month, all alone, feeling sorry for yourself. Go to the nursing home and find someone else who is lonely whom you can befriend. Go to the hospital and find somebody you can cheer up. If you`ll start sowing those seeds of friendship, God will bring somebody great into your life. When you make other people happy, God will make sure that your life is filled with joy.
We need to be more seed-oriented than need-oriented. In your time of need, don`t sit around thinking about what you lack. Think about what kind of seed you can sow to get yourself out of that need.
Plant Some Seed
When I was a young boy; Lakewood Church launched its first building program. We didn`t have much money, but there was a little Spanish church down the street in a building program, too. One Sunday morning my dad got up and announced to the congregation that we were going to take up a special offering, not for our new building, but for that little Spanish church. Several thousand dollars came in that morning, and we sent the check straight down the road. Truth is, we needed the money more than they did, but Daddy understood this principle. He knew he had to get some seed in the ground. He knew one of the best things he could do in that time of famine was to plant some seed. It wasn`t long before we had all the money we needed to get to work on our building project. We built that building, plus several others, and down through the years, we`ve lived by that principle: In the time of need, sow a seed.
An intriguing Scripture verse says, €œIt is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the liberal man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself. Daddy understood that if he generously took care of others. God would take care of his own needs. The same goes for you. If you will focus on giving generously to others, God will make sure your own life is refreshed, even if you must go through a dry, dreary wilderness.
A few years back, Dan lost his beautiful wife of many years. He was heartbroken. But he decided instead of staying focused on his pain, hurt, and loss, he wanted to help somebody else. He was retired from the phone company, so he wasn`t sure how his skills could benefit anyone else. He said, All I really know how to do is comfort other people who have lost a loved one. His attitude was: I`ve been there. I know what you are going through.
Dan started showing up at funerals where my dad was conducting the service. He often had no personal connection with the grieving family; sometimes he didn`t even know the person who had passed away, but he went to the funerals simply to encourage other people, to show them love and compassion. Over time, my dad noticed that Dan had a gift for comforting mourners. One day Daddy invited Dan to be a part of the church staff, and today, Daniel Kelley heads Lakewood`s €œComfort Ministry
Daniel didn`t stay focused on his problems. He didn`t develop the selfish attitude of: Who`s going to help me make my life better? He was proactive and on the offensive. As he began to meet other people`s needs, God began to turn his own situation around. Not only did God bring him through that difficult period, but recently, God brought a beautiful woman into his life. Now he and Shirley are happily married, and together they continue to sow seeds of God`s goodness.
God will do something similar for you. If you`ll dare to sow a seed in your time of need, God will do more than you can ask or think. I rely on this principle in my own life. When I`m tempted to feel discouraged, I turn my attention away from myself and go help somebody else. I like to go to the hospitals and visit people when I`m starting to feel low. If I don`t have time to do that, I keep a stack of prayer requests right next to my desk.
Recently, I had one of those days where everything that could go wrong, did. I had some major disappointments. I came home drained and discouraged. I sat down in my favorite chair and started watching TV, just thinking about all my troubles. The more I thought, the worse I felt. Finally I decided to sow a seed in my time of need. I went to my office and found one of those prayer requests. I called a young man who had been in the hospital for several months. I couldn`t recall meeting him before, but as I began to encourage him, I could feel my joy coming back. I could feel my spirit being lifted. By the time I hung up the phone, I was a new person. I felt like I could leap over a wall.
Friend, in your times of difficulty, don`t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Go sow a seed. Moreover, you don`t need to wait until you have a problem before you start sowing. We should constantly be on the lookout for ways that we can be a blessing, not just when our backs are against the wall. We should get up each day looking for ways to help others. If you will do that, the Bible says God`s blessings will chase you down and overtake you.
Granted, the temptation to be selfish is strong. Many good people get sucked into the trap of living with the attitude: What`s in it for me? How can you help me? How can you make my life better? How can you solve my problems?
Our attitude should be just the opposite: Whom can I bless today? Where is a need that I can meet? Whom can I encourage? Whom can I cheer up?
I`ve made up my mind. I`m going to be a giver in life. I`m going to do something good. I am looking for opportunities to sow some seeds. Why? I`ve simply learned that planting seeds works! And I want to make sure that I keep my harvest coming in, in a big way
Do Something Out of the Ordinary
Somebody once wrote to me, Joel, I sure like that tie you wore last week on television. So I just boxed it up and mailed it to him. I thought, That is too good an opportunity to pass up. (Now, don`t write me and tell me you like my suit, or the car I drive. That`s cheating. You know my secret!)
You may say, €œJoel, I could never do something like that, giving something to somebody simply because they paid me a compliment.
Fine, but do what you can do. You can give somebody a ride. You can call somebody and encourage them. You can go to the grocery store for an elderly person. You can do something. Start today!
Learn to stretch your faith. Do something out of the ordinary. If you want an extraordinary harvest, sow an extraordinary seed. Instead of sitting at home watching TV every night, why not spend some of that time doing something good for somebody else? Instead of going out to eat at an expensive restaurant, why not save that money and sow it as a seed? If you normally give 10 percent of your income, stretch your faith a bit and give 11 percent. Get a little more seed in the ground and watch what God will do. The Scripture says, For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. In other words, if you give with a teaspoon, it`s going to he given back to you with a teaspoon. If you give with a shovel, it`s going to be given back with a shovel. And if you give with a dump truck, you`re going to get dump truck loads of blessings in your life!
The Bible clearly says, He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sow bountifully will reap bountifully. If you re not satisfied with where you are in life, increase the amount of seed you are sowing. The size of your harvest depends on the amount of your seed. Certainly, some people live on limited incomes. It takes everything they have to make it each month. In my heart, I want to tell them, Just hold on to what you have. You need that money But I know that God`s principles are true. And I know it is imperative that the people with the greatest need continue to sow
Victoria and I were at a hotel eating breakfast one morning and a young man was waiting on us. When he brought our check, I opened it and found a note that said, €œThank you. He had paid for our breakfast.
My first thought was, Oh, my! That`s so nice of him, but he is just a young man. He`s probably not making more than minimum wage. He needs this money a lot more than we do.
Beyond that, our breakfast was included with the price of our hotel room! All we had to do was sign the check, and it would be free anyway.
What a dilemma! Victoria and I quietly discussed what we should do. She said Joel, don`t you think we should tell him, so maybe he could get his money back?
Well, we could, but I don`t think we should, I said. Even though we want to do that, we can`t rob him of his blessing. He`s planted a seed by doing something good for us. We don`t want to pull his seed out of the ground and give it back. That would be doing him a disservice.
Although we knew he needed that money, we also knew that when he planted that seed in the ground. God was going to multiply it back to him. We knew God would give him a greater harvest. So we accepted his generous gift and whispered a prayer that God would bless him abundantly
Understand, sowing seed is not a replacement for tithing. In fact, it is usually when you give over and above the first 10 percent of your income that this principle kicks into high gear. The Bible says, €œThe tithe is the Lord`s. And it is holy That means the first tenth of your income doesn`t belong to you. It belongs to God and should he given to your local church. When you hold on to it, you`re really robbing from God. So if you are not sowing at all, the tithe is a good place to start!
You may he thinking, Joel, I just can`t afford to tithe. No, the truth is, you can`t afford to not tithe. First, it would be foolish to try to rob God; and second, you need to get some seed in the ground. If you will dare to take a step of faith and start honoring God in your finances, He`ll start increasing your supply in supernatural ways. God will take that 90 percent you have left over, and He`ll cause it to go further than the 100 percent with which you started. The Scripture says that when we tithe, God not only opens up the windows of heaven, but He will rebuke the devourer for your sake. That means He`ll keep the enemy off your money, off your crop, off your children, and away from your home. He`ll make sure you get promoted. He`ll cause you to get the best deals in life. Sometimes, He`ll keep you from sickness, accidents, and harm that might cause other unnecessary expenses. All kinds of blessings come your way when you honor God in the area of your finances.
On the other hand, you can`t rob God and expect Him to bless you at the same time. You must realize, God doesn`t need your money or your time or your talent. When God asks us to give, it`s riot because He`s trying to get something from us. No, it`s because He`s trying to get us to put some seed in the ground so we can reap a harvest. God abides by the laws He has established, and if you don`t sow, you will not reap. It`s as simple as that. But if you are faithful and do what God tells you to do, God will honor the law of reaping and sowing. You may not have a lot to give, but God will bless you if you start where you are.
Don`t wait until you have more; start now. That`s the way you will receive more from God. You sow some seed, and then God will bless you with more. Then you can sow a little more seed, and on and on. That`s how you increase. But if you are not being faithful with what you have right now how can God trust you with more?
The Scripture is not ambiguous about this matter. It says, In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. If you want to prosper in your finances, put God first. If you want to prosper in your business, put God first. When you honor God, God will always honor you. And it`s interesting, the only place in the Bible where God tells us to prove Him€”which means to test Him, or check Him out is in the area of our finances. If you will be faithful and show God that you`re trustworthy with what you have right now, there`s no limit to what God will do in your life.