I was reading the other day that UK grain farmers are expecting to rake in bumper prices for this year's harvest on the back of strong rises in the price of wheat and barley in the past few weeks, buoying the arable farming sector after last year's difficult season. I understand that a record drought and disastrous wildfires have destroyed much of the harvest in Russia, sending wheat prices rocketing and prompting a ban on exports. I also understand that farmers across the south, the east and Midlands, farmers are well into their wheat harvest. But many in the south-east, east anglia and the midlands have had a more difficult time as the rain has lashed their fields.
Farming is an industry that is so often unpredictable, and so much at the mercy of the weather, and I am sure our farmers will be heartedly grateful this year when the harvest is safely gathered in.
Gratitude is the key word here. A French proverb says that 'Gratitude is the heart's memory.'And so it should be, but so often we make the mistake of taking our blessings for granted rather than counting them and valuing them. It was the great Benjamin Franklin who once wrote: 'When the well's dry, we know the worth of water.'
Many of our Churches will be giving thanks for the gathering in of the harvest this month, and Christians believe that that best way to express gratitude is to give generously in return. St Paul saw that principle working itself out this way: "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
J. L. Kraft, head of the Kraft Cheese Corporation, who had given approximately 25 percent of his enormous income to Christian causes for many years, said, " The only investments I ever made which have paid constantly increasing dividends, is the money I have given to the Lord.
Fritz Kreisler, the distinguished violinist saw that need to give in response to the blessings he had received as being of paramount importance, and he once wrote: "I never look upon the money I earn as my own. It is public money. It is only a fund entrusted to my care for proper disbursement. I am constantly endeavouring to reduce my needs to the minimum.... In all these years of my so-called success in music, we have not built a home for ourselves. Between it and us stand all the homeless in the world."
From the beginning of his business career, John Wanamaker, the great businessman from Philadelphia, is said to have dedicated one tenth of his increase to the Lord. Likewise, William Colgate, the great soap, toothpaste and perfume manufacturer, rose to fame and wealth while consistently paying a tithe of his earnings to God. This he recognized as the minimum requirement designated by divine wisdom; and year by year as God prospered his efforts and multiplied his wealth, Mr. Colgate gladly gave far more than a tenth. Today a great Christian university stands as a monument to his fidelity and generosity. Jesus says "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34). So let us count our blessings, and live out that spirit of generosity in our lives, by giving to those in need, out of thanksgiving for the blessings we have received in our lives.
May God bless you all,