Being Faithful Through Giving – 2 Corinthians 9:6-10
November 5, 2019 by Rev. Dr. Steve Locke
God does not operate on a “quid pro quo” (this for that). If you do this, then I will do this. This kind of operational relationship is beneath God, and is beneath us as well.
It may be the operations of legal documents, but God is not a lawyer. Nor does he deal with us through documents or contracts. God operates with us through a covenant of trust, which demands the faithfulness of each party. God is our redeemer, who seeks a relationship of some mutuality and honesty.
So, when Paul says, “The person who sows sparingly will reap sparingly,” is not a statement suggesting that God will not give you good things until we give him good things. It is more of a proverb, than a direct pronouncement of God’s actions toward our own stinginess. It is a truth. It is a real practical result of what happens when you do not put enough seed into the ground. Paul grounded this in the statements of Jesus, as well as the proverbs of the region.
Therefore, it is not by accident that Jesus uses this metaphor of seed and planting. His first great parable is about the seeds planted that went into weeds, good soil and in parched soil. It is a truth about the planting of seeds. Seeds are the beginning of the good crop. Every farmer knows, that if you want an abundant crop, you must start with an abundance of seeds, and good soil. It is the only way to achieve a crop worthy of a farmer’s hard work.
But let me ask you this. Why wouldn’t a farmer plant enough seeds to bring forth the abundance necessary to survive? Why is a farmer stingy about planting his crops? Or to be able to survive and give to others, which is suggested by Paul? Laziness is the only answer. It is a lazy and disgruntled farmer that thinks they can get away with only putting a few seeds in the ground, and then hopes to get a big crop. And then when they don’t, they blame it on God, nature or the neighbor.
This is what Paul means when he says, “You reap what you sow.” If you have just a small amount of land, then you will reap a small crop. But that is not his point.
His point is this: Put down as many seeds as you can, and it will reap what you have put into it. Be faithful to your calling as farmer. Be faithful as you calling to be Christian. Be faithful to your calling to be Parent. Be faithful to your calling to be a Friend. If you are lazy in these endeavors then you will not reap what you want in life. Love demands giving and generosity. Without this, we cannot achieve the purpose of God in our lives. Cynicism or being disgruntled, which leads to stinginess, only gets you isolation. Break free of that bondage. This is what Paul is talking about.
Paul continues to say, in an incriminating way, “God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow.”
His point is this. If you are stingy, you are foolish. God keeps giving seed to the farmer, through the crop. To be stingy is foolish. You will never experience the abundance of harvest until you grow past you fear and stinginess. This is applied to all aspects of life. This is not just about money. In fact, it is more than that. It is about living in such a way as you throw your seeds of faith everywhere. And if you do it will reap such abundance. But if you keep it secret or keep it under wraps and throw very few seeds out there to be treasured by others, we and the church will receive very small returns.
Behind all these statements, there lies Paul’s real intention: “Live up to your promise to hold the poorer churches up by your gift.” His proverbial statements regarding sowing are about holding them to be faithful and not hold back to those you have promised to care for, a promise which he is writing them about. If you hold back it will not help the other churches and it will not help you develop your faith.
God’s people find their well-being in God’s faithfulness to them, and the faithfulness of other Christians. That is the seed that keeps multiplying in abundance. Being stingy with our care for others and our love for God limits our chance of living an abundant and joyous life.
Paul is neither harsh or easy with the Corinthian Church. He is direct and remindful of their Christian promise to the churches in Macedonia who were hurting and needed their gifts. If Paul were here among us today, he would say the same thing: “Live up to your faithful promise and experience the abundance of God’s love.”
These are the real gifts of God’s kingdom. It is the experience of continuing to be filled with God’s gifts of service and giving. It never ends. God is an enduring resource of love.