What makes a stagnant pond different than a flowing stream? Here are a few of my observations. A stagnant pond is cutoff from any source, and the water is not fresh. In fact the origin of the word pond comes from a variant of the English word, pound , meaning “enclosed place.” A pond is typically small, and because of the lack of movement, it can produce a layer of pond scum where bacteria grow. This scum can completely cover the pond, and make the water barely visible. In contrast, a flowing stream is constantly fed by a higher water source. This may be a glacier, mountain snowmelt, or a lake. Its length is determined by its Creator as it flows from the source to its destination, called the mouth. Its constant flow ensures the water is fresh, and its movements are dynamic as it navigates through the rapids and times of calm. When it comes to giving back to God, we can be a stagnant pond or a flowing stream. Stagnant Pond When we distance ourselves off from the Holy Spirit, we cut ourselves off from our Source. A lack of prayer, quiet time, study of God’s word, and listening often lead to this break. We become completely reliant upon self and our focus turns inward rather than on God. As a result, our impact is small, and eventually the lack of movement produces stagnation – like a pond. Over time, spiritual bacteria form in our giving patterns, and it becomes more of a “religious” requirement than a joyful journey with God. Some common times of life we are susceptible for stagnation in our giving includes: Times of Comfort – Oftentimes when everything in life seems to be going well, and we are comfortable financially, we can become stagnant. Our comfort can lead to mundane routines that cause us to “go through the motions” of life without thought. Our human nature kicks in and begins to resist movement in our giving and we find ourselves quickly enclosed and working more toward preserving our current comforts. Times of Isolation – When we distance ourselves from the body of Christ, we miss a key component that keeps us fresh in our spiritual growth. We miss good teaching, modeling and mentoring that help us continue to grow in our generosity. We are left to fend for ourselves and can quickly become pray to the Devil, our flesh or the temptations of the world. Time of Transition – When we face transitions such as a job transfer, a change of our home church, or a physical relocation, we can become disconnected from spiritual disciplines such as giving. Over time, this disconnect distances us from our Source and spiritual bacteria set in. Flowing Stream We must strive to remain a flowing stream that pours out the time, talent, and treasure God has entrusted to us so that we can bless others, and help advance His Kingdom on earth. How can we be like a flowing stream? 1. Believe in Me Our belief in Christ for salvation and His promises connects us to our Source. As we trust Christ and His word, living water will flow in and through our lives. John 7:38 says, “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Streams of living water will flow from his heart.’” 2. Remain in Me Staying close relationally to God ensures we are always connected to our Source and that His blessings can flow in and through our lives. John 15:4 says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” We can remain in Christ by living an intentional life for Him that includes prayer, reading His word, listening and daily surrender. 3. Follow Me As we believe and remain in Christ, we begin to understand our call to follow Him. As followers, we awaken to the understanding that we are stewards of all He has provided. As we release “our” possessions back to God it breaks through barriers and frees us up to have a larger impact on the world, and allows us to follow the specific design God has for our life – like a stream. Each one of us were designed and created with specific works in mind before we were born. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” W e are called to be stewards, so those good works involve the releasing of our time, talent, and treasure. As a result, we will faithfully accomplish the works He has designed and created us to do. The Result These steps will lead to a journey of generosity that is dynamic, fresh, and constantly moving like a stream. We will be called to give to different people, causes, and needs. We will be challenged to grow in our giving rather than remain stagnant. We may even carve new paths of generosity for the future. Along the journey, we will see times of calm and will face rocky challenges, but in the end God remains our source, and we will reach the destination He has intended for us before time began. This guest post is part of the CPF Writer Auditions . Chris McDaniel is the Chief Business Development Officer for DELTA Ministries International (DELTA) and author of Igniting a Life of Generosity . Chris loves to spend time with this wife, bumping the volleyball with his daughter, playing catch with his son, serving the “least of these”, pizza, snowboarding, running marathons and seeing followers of Christ become generous givers. Related Articles: Faith and Giving | Lessons from C.S. Lewis The Widow’s Mite and how to help when you need help 5 lessons from the garden about fruit bearing 6 reasons for giving more in 2009 Lessons from Ecclesiastes: Why Procrastination Doesn’t Pay There is no such thing as a free lunch – or is there? 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Are You a Stagnant Pond or Flowing Stream?