Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2 Corinthians 9 - Sowing and Reaping

2 Cor 9:6-8 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.  

Giving is not a debit in our accounts but a credit. Paul says that giving is like sowing seeds. No farmer considers sowing seeds as "losing" seeds to the ground. Rather, he sees sowing as an investment in the future because he anticipates a harvest from the sowing. Paul is suggesting that when we change our attitude towards giving, we become cheerful givers! We see giving as an investment in God's kingdom that has its own ROI benefits. When we give in expectation that there will be a harvest, we give in faith. Just as the farmers sow in faith that God through the natural processes will bring about a bountiful harvest, so we give in faith because we know that God through the spiritual processes will bring about a bountiful harvest, both material and spiritual.

Some may think that giving with a hope for material blessing is "prosperity gospel." But I think this is too shallow an interpretation because God's blessing to us is holistic--spirit, soul and body. In the Lord's Prayer we do not just pray for kingdom blessings, but also for  material blessing  like our "daily bread" (physical needs), forgiveness of sin (emotional needs) and freedom from sin & devil (spiritual needs). I believe the harvest God promises to the cheerful giver who gives out of faith cover spiritual, emotional and material blessings. That is our Father-God. If we do not believe in material blessings, why do we collect a salary for our work or pray for well-paying jobs? Even those who reject (rightly) the "prosperity gospel" do not reject prosperity as far I can tell! Just look at the cars they drive and the houses they live in! Nothing wrong with prosperity if we look for the holistic version--prosperity of spirit, soul and body. Did not Paul pray "May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless (free from deficiency) at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5:23b)?

10-12 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

But the blessings do not stop with us: it overflows to the recipients of our giving--viz., their material needs are met and they give thanks to God as a result our giving. So God blesses both the givers and the recipients through our act of generosity. Jesus words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" may suggest that the givers will end up with more blessings  in all ways than the receivers.

Lord, open our hearts, wallets & purses so that we can be a blessing to others. In Christ's name. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. "giving with a hope" is certaintly not proclaiming a prosperity gospel; you are right on. Good distinction.

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