Sows Bountifully

April 11, 2024

In the fall of 1995, I took a full-time-short-term job as a school photographer while LeAnn and I did fundraising to become overseas missionaries. The owner of the photography studio struggled to find good employees who would work the entire three-month "season," so he told me that if I worked until the end of the three months, I would receive a $300 bonus on top of my regular $4.25/hour salary.

Along with myself, the owner hired three additional part-time photographers, two of whom were young adult guys like myself. Sadly, the other two guys didn't stick it out. One lasted perhaps three weeks (by just not showing up!) and the other lasted maybe an additional week. This made it quite difficult on the rest of us. But I made it to the end.

Roughly two weeks later, I received my last check, along with my bonus. However, the bonus was only $200, a full $100 less than promised. I called the owner about this, thinking it was a simple oversight, and he said, "Well, Erin, I never promised $300, I said it could be up to $300." (That was sadly an outright lie. However, he hadn't put it in writing, so it was his word against mine.)

Yet, as we concluded our phone conversation, I realized I wasn't surprised by his actions. I had made numerous road trips to distant schools with my boss, and in nearly every conversation, he talked about money, a subject with which he was clearly obsessed. As I rode in the passenger seat of his brand new 1995 Lincoln Continental, this 75-year-old-yet-refused-to-retire gentleman would regularly tell me how everyone was out to get his money and how he avoided giving his money to all the money-hungry people and organizations.

So you can understand why I wasn't surprised in the end that he didn't reward me with the extra $100 to which he'd verbally agreed to give.

Sows Bountifully • Riverwood Church

A Better Approach to Money

I share that story as the antithesis of today's topic. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 (from our key passage for this Being a STEWARD series), we see that "stewards" of God's money give generously, not keep it for themselves...

"[W]hoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."

2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV)

Paul uses farming language to communicate these biblical truths: If a farmer scatters very little seed, he shouldn't expect a bountiful harvest. It is only when the farmer is generous with the seed he plants that he can expect a larger return.

I can't help but wonder what life might have been like for my former boss had he lived like a steward, rather than a selfish saver. I suspect he would have had way more joy in life (he seemed quite miserable, seeing everyone as a thief rather than a person to bless), and I think he might have kept employees much longer. But by living out the wrong S—that is, Stingy—he constantly lived in fear of not having enough. He didn't realize that the money wasn't truly his to begin with, and so he never considered how he could use the wealth God had given him to help others.

As you consider how to Be a STEWARD, live out the S by "Sowing bountifully" of what God has entrusted for you to steward. You'll find more joy in generosity than you ever imagined as you bring more joy to others.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

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