Biblical metaphors relative to the laws of giving and receiving include no mention of grateful crows, but a young girl in Seattle has proven they might well have done. Eight-year-old Gabi Mann began sharing part of her lunch with the crows each day. No surprise there, I suppose. Countless people show the birds a little love at backyard feeders and with popcorn in the park. Not many, however, experience any crow reciprocity.
According to a delightful report by the BBC, little Miss Mann soon began receiving gifts from the grateful crows. As these tokens of affection have accumulated, she bagged and labeled them. It has become an impressive collection, to say the least. Bits of stone, pieces of hardware, colored glass, Legos and much more fill Gabi's amazing exhibit. Each one was placed carefully on the edge of the birdbath by a crow in evident gratitude for her generosity.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 admonishes us to cast our bread upon the waters and then promises that we will find it later. I wonder how it might read if Gabi Mann's story were taken into account. "Share your lunch with the crows, and they will bring you gifts." I like it!
As we in the ministry try to teach on giving, finding a healthy balance is strenuous, to say the least. Jesus certainly had plenty to say about giving, as in Luke 6:38. "Give and it shall be given to you." Every minister can and should quote the rest of that verse frequently before receiving the offering.
The point is this. We do not want to turn the promises of Jesus and Ecclesiastes and the rest of Scripture into an arms-length business arrangement. "OK, God, here's some bread, and I expect colored glass on the birdbath by sundown or You're not God." That approach drains the joy out of giving. I believe the promises of God. We will never miss a dime given for His kingdom's purpose. Our bread will come delightfully back to us on wave after wave of blessing, yet we dare not become mechanical or, worse, manipulative.
There are many reasons to teach on giving and receiving. We want people blessed, and giving is crucial to their being blessed. We want the kingdom of God to go forward well-resourced. Furthermore, we want believers to grow in their trust of God and His promises. Then there is the responsibility of "churchmanship." As believers, we are called to support the church with our prayers, attendance to public worship, private devotion and, not the least of these, tithes and offerings. Ministers likewise are called to instruct the people of God in all these disciplines. Surely, however, ours should be a joyful journey as well as a disciplined one.
I want believers to know the child-like thrill of giving. Worship should never be drudgery but joy, and giving is worship. The life of faith is to be joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is into that aspect of giving that I most hope to guide others.
I am persuaded that the church that delights in giving, the church that sets God free to "bring their bread back on every wave" choosing waves as He will, the church that celebrates the adventure of giving will discover and revel in the delightful secret of the love of crows.
Little Gabi Mann never signed a contract with the crows. She just gave. The fun of her story, the real joy of it all, is its serendipitous nature. Bread for beads is not a business deal between child and bird but a delightful journey into the joy of giving and receiving.
Some have tended to teach giving and receiving exclusively as a spiritual law. I'm not saying they are wrong. I believe in the promises of Scripture. In real life, the blessing of giving, the true heart of giving with open hands and an open heart, can be damaged by legalism. How much better to teach, give and watch—just watch—what God will do. He can bless it back to you in ways and through means that never occurred to you. Give with generosity and receive with delight in sweet and unexpected ways. Maybe this is the secret.
"Cast your lunch upon the ground and even the crows will bless you."
That's not in the Bible, but it's pretty close.
Dr. Mark Rutland is president of Global Servants. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has over 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president.
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