“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
What does that command conjure up in your head?
For me, I imagined a slow, painful process of emptying my house, suffering through innumerable yard sales and Craigslist transactions until we were sitting on milk crates in the living room, with no pictures on the wall and only enough clothes in our closets for a week.
I thought that was the end goal.
While I’ve been doing Spending week(s) for Summer of 7, I think God gave me a little insight into this idea. Perhaps I’m behind the ball on this idea but he showed me that selling our possessions and giving to the poor does not mean that we are left with nothing.
In fact, what I find in God’s economy is when he takes away, he always gives back in abundance.
I have always been enamored with trees. I can remember learning to draw trees in fifth grade art and just loving that I could do that. I would go years. I mean, years trying to draw trees. I still to this day try to draw a great tree when me and the girls are drawing. I have many pictures and art pieces of trees in my house. I always choose the tree if I have to pick out an image somewhere.
I love trees.
Weeping willow is my favorite, if you’re wondering.
While thinking about selling what I had in order to give, I thought about Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Have you read that because it’s just the most beautiful story of giving. In sort of the same vein, I thought about how fruit trees are made to give. They bloom their flowers and give forth fruit. The fruit is taken but the tree doesn’t die. It’s not left with nothing.
God created the tree to bear even more fruit. In fact, if you take some branches at the end of the season too and not just the fruit, it is quite healthy for the tree and will produce even more fruit.
You see this concept of taking and replenishing everywhere in nature.
I thought about Job and how God took every single thing he had and then when he stood strong, in the end it says “the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before”. God took but he still provided in abundance.
Be a Conduit
I went back to the verse in Luke where it talks about selling your possessions and the whole section is that part about not worrying. About how the wildflowers grow and the birds eat. They don’t worry and God takes care of them.
Towards the end, it says he is pleased to give us the kingdom. And in conclusion of all that he says, and yeah, so since I’m going to take care of you, sell your possessions and give to the poor.
I think God was just showing me I’m supposed to be a tree.
He’s going to give me what I need. At some point, these things I own are no longer meant to be mine and I’m supposed to sell them and give the money to the poor. I ought not hoard the money and chase after more things. He’s going to provide. My job is to be conduit of the fruit.
He gives me things, beautiful things, like he gives a cherry tree its beautiful blossoms every year. The branches stretch and say look at these beautiful flowers God gave me. They produce delicious, beautiful, ripe fruit. But then the fruit is taken for others.
But God always starts the cycle again.
I want to be a tree. A beautiful conduit of his fruit. Whether that fruit be spiritual fruit of mercy and grace and forgiveness or whether it physically be these things he gives me or the money I earn from them, I want to pass it on.
If you take it a step further, then, and you begin viewing yourself as a conduit, the buying of “all the things” in the first place begins to make a lot less sense.
Dani and I held our Garage Sale for Orphans on Saturday and we would have these moments where we’d stop and just look at all the stuff and say why did we buy all this in the first place? Do you know how many people could have been helped while this stuff sat in our attics?
The ultimate idea, then, is not to buy, sell, give cyclically, but to simply give.
I keep waiting for God to tell me my spending fast is over but you know, I think I’m permanently done. I’m done with it being all about me. I’m fine with buying nice things and enjoying them and displaying and being grateful for God’s beautiful gifts but my perspective is changed.
I’m done with all the Target end caps and Wal-Mart plastics.
I’m just done.
I started this post talking about how God replenishes and never leaves you with nothing. I think that’s sort of set up for failure because one might think the idea is to give so God will bless you. I think what we miss though is if we get this mindset of being a conduit, when he begins replenishing, he’s then not replenishing you in abundance but replenishing others in abundance but in an awesome way using you to do it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be a Giving Tree.
And just guessing, but this could be fun.
I know we’ve probably all read this passage a zillion times, but just read it again with this perspective and see how much more it makes sense.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 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. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
You know what’s awesomer? Today’s my birthday and I’d really love it if my birthday could be a conduit for something GOOD.
Real Hope for Haiti is a medical clinic in Haiti. They’re trying to raise money to get another container shipped from the States with much needed supplies. Hop over and donate to help them out? You are awesome! Thanks!