Winter is an important time in the plant world. Many plants shed their leaves, and slowly switch off many of their functions - they become dormant, or in animal terms, they hibernate. Having endured a lengthy growing season, they take time now to replenish themselves, by switching off the external production, and "rebuild the interior". Every plant has some "lean" or "quiet" time in its year where it can replenish itself in preparation for a new spurt of growth. They reflect the truth that no-one can continually give out without taking time to restock.
The shedding of leaves in Autumn returns to the soil some of the nutrients which the plant had drawn to produce these leaves in the first place - the plant gives back to the one who has fed it.
How we humans need to listen to the plant world!
Two Old Testament principles reflect this truth: the Sabbath, and the tithe. The Sabbath principle reminds us of the need to take regular time for replenishing the stocks - physically, and spiritually. The tithe is a reminder to regularly return back to God something of that which He has expended in our behalf.
Our failure to give attention to either of these principles ultimately impoverishes us, and God's kingdom: burnt out christians and an under-resourced church limit the reach of God's grace, both within the church and in the wider community. When individuals and church continually give without being replenished, the reality of God's kingdom is muffled and muted, both in our own lives and in the surrounding community.
Being good stewards means taking time out to be renewed. It also means returning to God something of that which He has supplied to us. That we have poorly practiced both of these disciplines is a significant reason for the church's (hence the gospel's) diminished impact in the surrounding community.
The plants are telling
us this, if only we would listen!
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