The Positive Side of Sowing and Reaping
Robert Wurtz II
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Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:5–11 NKJV)
There is a topic woven through the very fabric of the New Testament, and it’s our attitude towards money and personal possessions. Beginning with John the Baptist’s message of repentance; money, and possessions are front and center. You cannot love and serve both God and possessions (mammon or money), though many make every effort to do it (Luke 16:13, Matt. 19:22-24). Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:34). However, just because God has blessed a person with wealth does not mean they are sinning. It could be that He trusts them to distribute it rightly.
It is sad, if not disgraceful, that prosperity merchants have spoiled the positive side of what is commonly called “the law of sowing and reaping.” Paul uses the experience of a farmer to illustrate truth. Though abused in modern times as a means to personal wealth, no number of false teachers can nullify the truth. A farmer typically receives a harvest according to the amount of seed sown. This is common sense and makes Paul’s illustration regarding giving clear and to the point.
The Greek word pheidomenos (φειδομένως) is usually translated “sparingly” and is only here in biblical Greek. It is also scarce in nonbiblical literature. However, scholars have uncovered an early use of the verb pheidesthia (φείδεσθαι), meaning “to be miserly,” suggesting that pheidomenos means “in a miserly manner,” the opposite of, epi eulogias (ἐπʼ εὐTλογίαις) literally, “with a blessing” or “generously,” “bountifully.”
Understand that farming and miserly behavior don’t mix. Show me a miserly farmer, and I’ll show you a failed farm. Farmers sow generously and deliberately, trusting that the seed will produce fruit without regard to the weather or other potential disasters. But, at some point, the harvest will yield (produce) more seed than the fields can handle. So, what will the farmer do with the excess? Should he tear down his barns and build larger ones (Luke 12:16-21)?
Share and Share Alike
Having more than enough is discussed in 2 Corinthians 8:14-15. Paul speaks of “equality” regarding supply and needs. If God provides an abundance to one, the loving thing to do is share with the one who legitimately lacks. Paul isn’t advocating laziness so that one works and gives and the others lie around and do nothing. If one doesn’t work, they shouldn’t eat (2 Thess. 3:6-15). Not even widows are exempt from this principle (1 Timothy 5:9-10). Ministering the word of God qualifies as work (1 Timothy 5:17).
Nevertheless, the poor saints at Jerusalem had legitimate needs, so Paul received an offering for them. It’s worth noting that when the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, the saints sold their goods to make sure nobody lacked. Why? The love of God was shed abroad in the hearts resulting in widespread generosity (Romans 5:5, Acts 2:44, Acts 4:32). However, the Corinthians suffered from self-centeredness, which Paul diagnosed as carnality (1 Cor. 3:3-4). Sometimes carnality becomes a pattern of life so that a believer needs that someone teaches them again the first principles of the oracles of Christ (Hebrews 5:11-13). Teaching on generosity was necessary to correct Corinthian carnality.
The Seeds of Generosity
Paul used the illustration of material goods being like seeds. The more you sow, the more God gives you to sow. What does that mean? God expects us to do with our resources what He would do with them if He were us. I’m not referring specifically to tithing or what those who lust for filthy lucre preach (prosperity); I’m referring to a general and everyday attitude of generosity that gives without hesitation for legitimate needs. So again, when we are good stewards of God’s resources (we do with our resources what God would do with them if He were us), He will provide us with even more resources. This is the fundamental principle of Godly stewardship. This is what it is to be “faithful with the unrighteous mammon.” (Luke 16:11)
“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 10:9-11)
If we woke up tomorrow and every professing Christian in the world took on God’s generous attitude, we would probably be in revival. If we follow God’s principles of generosity, He will increase our capacity for righteousness. How? We are limited in how much goodness (acts of righteousness) we can do because we have limited means. If we are faithful with the little that we have, God will give us more. If we are faithful with that new amount, He will provide us with even more. In other words, He keeps increasing the amount of our seed harvest as we are faithful to distribute it. More seed (resources) means more acts of righteousness and therefore, more praise and thanks towards God from those who are blessed (2 Cor. 4:15, 2 Cor. 8:2).
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16:11)
If we are faithful with our material resources, God will provide us with the riches of the kingdom to fulfill His work. So I suppose we can say it’s a test. Do we want to move in revelation? Do we want to move in the manifest power of God? Do we want more resources than we need so we can be a blessing to others and help fund the furtherance Gospel? So let me ask you, what are you doing with your material resources? Do you do with them what God would do? We must be faithful with the lesser before God can trust us with the extraordinary.