One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. (ESV)
One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly but comes to poverty. (NIV)
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. (NLT)
Rivers and Ponds
Imagine with me for a moment a pond, fresh from a spring rain, surrounded by stillness and covered by a glassy surface. It’s beautiful. This pond is designed to collect water for its own ecosystem. However, imagine that the water in this pond remains stagnant and it becomes stale. When the spring rains cease and the summer heat comes, the pond takes an ugly turn with excessive weed and algae growth, murky water, bad odor, and even dead fish. The once-clear water loses its freshness, and life within it struggles to thrive.
Now, imagine another pond that is attached to a stream—water that moves, flows, and redirects itself with purpose. Unlike the isolated pond, the stream is a conduit, a pathway for water to flow and pass through. The water in the stream stays pure and fresh because it doesn't cling to one place; it continues its journey, life within it thrives, and it nourishes the land it touches.
The first pond in this illustration symbolizes someone who withholds what they have, fearing scarcity, but ironically, only suffers discontentment and complacency in the end. The pond with the stream, on the other hand, is like a person who gives freely, understanding that by giving freely of what they have and by surrendering control, they stay content and gain all things that truly matter in the process.
As we consider these two bodies of water as parables for our lives, we must answer the question: Am I like the pond, withholding my blessings, afraid to share what I have? Or, like the stream, am I freely giving of who I am and what I have, knowing that in the act of giving, I will grow all the richer?
As we reflect on these images, let's recognize the paradox of generosity. The more we give, the more we receive. This does not mean material wealth but rather the richness found in faith, fellowship, and surrender, which produces joy and peace in our lives that last for eternity. A generous heart, like a flowing stream, ensures that our lives stay flowing and fresh as we serve and love those around us.
I love how Jesus states this idea recorded in Matthew 16:27: He says For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
When we surrender through giving, we keep our soul attached to the Kingdom of Heaven, reminding ourselves that no amount of material gain in this world could ever be worth losing our soul. We can live in this generous freedom because we know that all things are first gifts from God. No matter how much we give, we know that we will always be brought back to the one thing we truly need: salvation in Jesus Christ. Giving produces in us spiritual richness and life, whereas withholding and hoarding what we have will only result in anxious discontentment. Simply put, generosity is a heart of surrender; greed is a heart of dissatisfaction.
So, ask yourself: Are you a pond, clinging to what you have and risking stagnation, or are you a stream, freely giving and growing in Christ with every outpouring? Choose the path of the stream, understanding that in the act of giving, we find true abundance and a life that flows with purpose and a deep relationship with our Lord and Savior.
Written by Blake Stanley
Think of one of the areas in your life where you have been most blessed with abundance. Brainstorm one way to share this blessing with the people God has placed around you! Note: Have fun with this! The goal is to experience the joy that comes from giving freely out of what God has most blessed you with!