There’s no accounting for taste, they say. The poet James Russell Lowell enthused, “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.” However, I’ll go with November every time. The summer heat has broken and the leaves are turning their bright autumn colors, but except in the Far North the winter cold is still to come.
For most of the country, the fall also brings the completion of harvest. Although most Americans live in urban areas and many of us seldom even see a farm, the foods we all eat – fruits and vegetables, meats, milk, and the grain for our bread – come from farms and ranches across American and around the world. We may feel far away from farm life and think that the harvest has little to do with us, but we are connected with agriculture more closely than we realize. How the harvest goes affects the prices we pay; and if the harvest were to fail completely, there would soon be nothing available to put on our grocery shelves.
In the Old Testament world, most people were farmers, and the Israelites were to bring offerings to God from the harvest of their fields and flocks. The success of the harvest directly affected their wellbeing during the next year. At their agricultural festivals, “the measure of your own freewill offering shall be in proportion to the blessing the Lord, your God, has bestowed on you” (Dt 16:10) they were told.
So it is for us. We may not have a harvest of fruits or grains, but we do receive a return for our own labor, whether it be in a factory, an office, a classroom, or wherever. And, as stewards, we also are invited by God to return a portion to Him for His glory and our own spiritual welfare, in proportion to the blessings we have received.
As stewards, it’s ultimately a choice we make. Are we going to hoard everything we get, or are we going to give back to God a portion of what He gives us? When we give back to God, will we return just what’s left over after everything else is paid, or will our gifts have a higher priority? The Israelites brought the “first fruits of the various products” (Ex 26:2) they raised. The first fruits, rather than the leftovers. Is that the choice I will make? Is that the choice you will make?