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All Good Gifts

Gwen works as an executive with the federal government and serves on CoF's Leadership Board and Missions Team. Gwen and Joe have been married almost 40 years and have two adult children (Katie and Alex) and a grand-cat, Alice.

by Gwen Zanin on November 12, 2023

Hi. I’m Gwen and I’m here to talk to you a little about Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians and a lot about how we can all plants seeds in our lives and reap the benefits.

As Paul wrote in Chapter 9, verse 6: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously.” Paul is using a quote from Proverbs to tell something his listeners know is very true: If you want a big field of grain, you need to plant a lot of seeds.

This is true not just for investing in fields but in our home or spiritual life too. If you want to grow a relationship, you need to spend time with that person. If you want to be close to God, you need to spend time in prayer. And if you want to feed the world, you’re going to need to buy some groceries – and find some friends to help you.

It may not always be easy to sow generously – to find the time or the money or the energy -- but I know that it’s worth it. It felt good for me to empty my pantry a few Saturday mornings ago and bring out my bags of food. It felt good to think someone may be a little less hungry in the world for what I did and that the food pantry here will grow as a result. It helps me to see a field blossoming into a beautiful harvest. It makes me happy and God likes that.

2 Corinthians 9:7: “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.”

God wants us to plant generously and share our harvest joyfully. He assures us there will always be enough. You will always have enough.

2 Corinthians 9:8: “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.”

These verses about planting seeds reminds me of a story which I’d like to share with you. It’s called The Tale of the Cracked Pot.

There was once a water bearer, in a faraway place, who had two large pots. Each pot was hung on the end of a pole and carried across the water bearer’s back. One of the pots was in perfect condition and always delivered a full portion of water. The other one, however, had a deep crack in it, causing water to leak out.   At the end of the long walk, the cracked pot always arrived only half full.

The pot was very sad about this and, after two years of feeling flawed, it spoke to the water bearer. “I am ashamed,” it said. “This crack in my side causes water to leak out. You work so hard and yet have little water once you return home.”

But the water bearer smiled cheerfully and replied “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path? I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day, while we walked home, you watered those seeds and helped them grow. Because of you, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table and give to my neighbors. Without you being just the way you are, there would not have been this special beauty to grace our homes and lives.”

I love the little pot in this story, but I love the water bearer even more. She sowed those seeds generously, with love and respect for the uniqueness of the little pot, and she reaped generously too for the pot was happy and the flowers grew to the benefit of her neighbors and anyone who walked the path.  Even after she is gone, those flowers will go on blooming.

She was a cheerful giver, and I can imagine God was bountiful with his blessing to her and to all those around her.

I love how this makes me think of our church too. I think of how, together, we can plant and grow more seeds to beautify and heal the world.

Where one bag of groceries…becomes 1,000.

Where one meal... becomes 10,000.

And where one smile… can change the world.

I encourage you to give what you can to help make the church and the world continue to blossom. There’s so much we can grow together.

2 Corinthians 9:9: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever."

Thank you and good night.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How have I experienced God’s abundant blessings in my life?
  • Where am I choosing to plant my own seeds (time, money, energy)?
  • What are ways I could sow more generously and give to others with love and joy?


Dear Lord, thank you for the soil, the seed, the sun, the water – all the gifts you provide with your ever-abundant grace. Please help me to become a more cheerful giver and give thanks to you always. Please bless our community that our gifts may be ever to your glory and used in your holy name. May our harvest spread and reach out to as many people as you see fit.  Amen.

Many thanks to Mary Ann East in her rendering of "All Good Gifts" from Godspell to underscore tonight's reflection.

Tags: stewardship, faith, generosity, giving