June 3, 2011 Devotion Sharing
Submitted by David Tung, Gracepoint Berkeley
2 Corinthians 9:6-10
What are the implications of comparing financial giving to sowing of seed?
One implication is from the fact that the sowing of seed does not yield immediate results. It takes time from when the seed is planted to when it sprouts to when it finally yields a harvest. Similarly, our financial giving (or the giving of anything) to kingdom work may not yield immediate results – it will take time for those resources to get directed and used and it will take time for those resources to change people’s hearts. Another implication is from the fact that you sow seed in order to yield a harvest – similarly, we are not giving financially for the sake of giving, but rather out of hope that it will yield a spiritual harvest – people will get saved. Another implication is from the fact that sometimes sowing seed does not lead to a harvest – but if you don’t sow at all, then you certainly aren’t going to have a harvest. Similarly, sometimes what we give financially is going to be used on something that in the end proves not to be effective, but that should not stop us from giving – because if we don’t give at all, then there wont’ be a harvest at all.
In what ways is it generally true of life that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously?”
This is a statement that is just very true about life – it makes sense that in everything we do, if we put in a little, then little will come out of it, but if we put in a lot, then much more will come out of it. If we invest a little in our relationships, then they remain shallow and the bonds remain weak, but if we invest a lot in our relationships and make the effort to spend time together and to be honest with one another, then our relationships will become a lot deeper and the bonds will become stronger. If we exercise a little, our health will get a little better or stay the same, but if we are disciplined and zealous about exercise, then the benefits and effects will be much greater. If we study a little, we will do enough to pass the class, but if we study a lot, then we might be able to get that A or A+. This is a principle that applies to all things, whether spiritual or worldly. If we invest a little time into DT, then we will walk away with some vague sentiments about God, but if we invest a lot of time and energy into DT, then it has the potential to really speak to us and transform our lives. If we invest a little time and money and energy into ministering to people and trying to reach them with the Gospel, then we might have a few good conversations and we might move some people a little closer to God, but if we really pour our time and money and energy into ministry and evangelism, then it is much more likely that someone is going to come to know Christ. So, we all have resources that we have been given – time, energy, money – and there are many things that we can be investing in, and we know that the things we invest in are likely to be what will yield a return. So, the question now is whether we decide to invest what resources we have in kingdom work or in worldly pursuits.
Have I been sowing sparingly or generously, particularly in the area of finances?
I have been sowing – but in general I think I’d have to characterize myself as someone who sows sparingly. I have these resources – time, energy, and money – and there is some that I do give up and commit to kingdom work. But, in general, I give things in such a way so that I feel that I have enough for myself, and when things start to feel tight and I start to feel like the giving is uncomfortable, then I stop giving. I see this very clearly in the area of my time and my energy – I am happy to take things on as long as I do not feel too stretched, but once I do, it is very easy to excuse myself from taking on more things, even if there is an obvious need – I try to excuse myself and say that I don’t need to make that effort to drive out to ____ to meet ____, or that I don’t have to respond to the need when someone emails out and asks for help. In the area of finances, there is the same reality – I am happy to give and to be generous when there is plenty and as long as there is a nice buffer of financial security for me. In the past I would give to points when I would start to get a bit anxious about the number in my bank account, but never to the point of actually zeroing out what I had. As someone who has a steady income that is more than enough to live on, I need to be giving more because there is kingdom work that needs to be done right now and I am very far from the edge of needing to worry about finances. One such way that I can sow more generously is to keep my eye out for other people with financial needs – oftentimes these are people who have more kingdom responsibilities and who are much better and more effective ministers than I am, but they might be worse off financially. I can really contribute to kingdom work by trying to meet their needs, which has the effect of encouraging them, building up the church, strengthening our relationships, and freeing them up for kingdom work.
How can I move towards being a cheerful giver?
Apostle Paul tells us that we need to give what I have decided in my heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion – this is how we can be cheerful givers, not people who are bitter about giving. But, it is also good for us to be generous, and so how can we be both generous and cheerful? I need to remember he who supplies the seed that I have to sow – the one who supplies my time, energy, and money. As Apostle Paul writes in verse 8, “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.” God is the one who supplies all that I need and who gives grace to me – what he supplies is sufficient, I am confident that he knows my needs, and everything ultimately belongs to him. Remembering this fact should help me to be ready and willing to serve. I also need to remember the harvest that I am giving towards – the harvest is the salvation of souls. It is something that is worth my investment and sacrifice.