peach1But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. — 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 —

We had a peach tree and an apple tree in our backyard when I was little. Dad tried his best to get fruit from those trees, but they barely put out. But, one year they did. We had peaches galore. Some neighbors lived behind us who were friends with my parents. One day, after the fruit had begun falling from the tree, I picked some up and went to the back fence and began giving them the peaches. They stood at the fence while I kept running back and forth with handfull of peaches. When I ran out of those on the ground, I began picking them from the tree and ran back to the fence to give them another hand load.  Oh, I was so excited. I was making them smile! It felt good to give.

Then I heard my mother call me from the back door. I ran to her and she asked me, “What on earth are you doing?”

“Giving them peaches!” I happily exclaimed.

“Well, save some for us. I was going to make a peach cobbler. Don’t be giving them anymore.”

I didn’t much care for peach cobbler, but I obeyed anyway. That was not my reason for giving them away. To this day, I can still see the smiles of my neighbor. As a child, I thought that was a good thing. But, looking back, I think they were taking advantage of a small girl. Not once did they ask, “Is it ok with your mother? You better go ask her.”

Deep down, I thought my mother was being selfish. But, she wasn’t. Being a child, I had not known all the care and work my father had put in that tree to get the crop he got that year. And there I was, giving it all away!

The peaches were not mine to give away. But, because they were in my backyard, at the moment I was giving them over, I thought they were mine. But they were not.

I’m sure if I had gone to my parents first and asked if I could have given some away, they would not have only said yes, but they would have told me how many, as we were not raised to be selfish children.

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about that incident lately. It reminds me of other times in my life when I have given here or there. Not tooting a horn here — but, one of the gifts God has given me is the gift of giving. I love to give. Oh how I love to give.

But I have come to the conclusion that I have to grow up in that area. The gifts of God, if not used correctly, if not used under His timing and service, are indeed vain. I’ve come to realize that everytime I wanted to bless, God was not always in it.

I’ve had to take a good look at why I have given over the years. Was it so I would be accepted? Was it to be loved? Or was it to because I truly wanted God to bless others? The way to test it? If the later, then you have set no conditions upon your giving and you are free to not give it another thought. But, if the first reasons, then you will find yourself thinking about it time to time wondering why you still don’t feel accepted or loved.

If we believe: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights… James 1:17 —

then shouldn’t we believe if we have what we think is a good gift to begin with, then it did not come from us? Just like those peaches I gave away did not belong to me. They belonged to my father. He was the one who cared for the tree, not I. The same is with God.

Everything we have that can and does bless others, is not from our own hand. It is from God. Who are we to haphazardly give away what God has entrusted us with? Or better yet, who are we to give away what is not ours? Those peaches were not mine.

I am learning not to be led by emotions or being manipulated into giving where God either says, “wait,” or “no.” His reasons, I do not question. Sometimes we are too willing to let our giving be a source of salvation to someone else when God wants them to know HE is their source of salvation in a circumstance. They can not know that if we, who are led by emotion too many times, are too quick to jump to their aid. Do not get me wrong: I am not saying we are never to help another. I simply say we are to be led by God. His leading is pure. It will never point back to self. Nor will it enable others to be lazy, not doing for themselves. It will always point to the goodness of God and the recepient will know.

I’ve learned to not only turn to God when I see a need arise, but to also trust my husband’s judgement. My husband and I are different as man and woman, as are most couples. Yet, we balance one another. I know this is going to sound like a sexist statement, and perhaps it is, but we women tend to be led by emotion more so than a man. A woman is very blessed indeed if she has a husband who not only can hear her heart, but able to help her discern the full picture. I have such a husband. For that I am very grateful.

Yes, God loves a cheerful giver. This is not to be confused with being led by emotion or led by the manipulation of others. That little girl running back and forth from the peach tree to the fence was being led by both.But it does not have to be that way. If you see yourself giving only for reasons of emotion and manipulation, it is sin. You are looking to man for something that should only come from God. What an awful yoke you have put on yourself. You will never the know the true freedom of giving as God intends.

My mother did not punish me that day. She could have, I suppose, but she did not and she never said another word about the situation. How much greater is God? Man always wants you to prove something to him. Sometimes by how much you give to his ministry, his programs, his service. In fact, in a lot of churches if you aren’t giving the way the preacher or the man wants you, then they have no use for it. You can work yourself ragged trying to gain their approval. But with God, you do not. He already knows what is in your heart. If you are one who loves to give, He sees that. Just make sure it is what He wants, and not you. You might find yourself running back and forth between the peace tree and the fence until all the resources have been used up on something other than what God intended.