Second Corinthians 9:6–15 . . .
Financial Sowing and Reaping
The past two weeks, we've seen in chapters 8 and 9 a number of great examples of giving; the giving of those poverty-stricken Macedonians who gave beyond their means, out of their deep, desperate poverty, and the incredibly rich giving of Jesus, who gave everything up and became poor that we might be rendered incredibly rich. Thankfully, in today's study focus — Financial Sowing and Reaping — Apostle Paul next turns to the possibilities of giving (in v. 6).
Basically, Paul provides the closest analogy to giving that we have in life: The farmer going out to sow his crop. Giving is more than the giving away of your funds or resources; it's a process that will return something to you, similar to a farmer who sows seed in the spring when he appears to throw away seeds, scattering them upon the ground, unable to gather them up again. Seemingly lost to him, he actually gives up control of those seeds and their potential use. He sows them away onto the ground where they deteriorate, rot, and appear inert and lost.
But our sown seed is not inert or lost or gone! It'll eventually fulfill its appointed process and the farmer will have the seeds back again plus much more, which is God's design. Our return or reaping is proportionate to our giving or sowing. If a farmer or any of us sows a small amount of seed, our return will be small. But if each of us sows or gives generously, we'll receive or reap a bountiful harvest in return.
In v. 7, Paul summarizes briefly two principles about how we're to give. First, he stresses, giving must be cheerfully voluntary. Giving must come from a sincere desire to give to meet the need. Give because you know that you've been given to and provided for, and that you want to share in the blessing that God is carrying out. Second, true giving must be expectant giving. You're dealing with God, and he's fully capable of giving back. That's not selfish giving, expecting to receive something in return for your giving. No. There's nothing wrong with recognizing that you'll be benefited by your giving; God's Word tells us that. Those who learn to give and give for right reasons become generous, gracious, godly-minded people, realizing therefore that everything can and does come from the Provider's hand, as Paul reminds us in v. 8.
So, give and it shall be given to you, again and again. Luke tells us in his gospel (6:38) what Jesus had said regarding giving: Men will pour resources into your treasury — "pressed down and running over" — when you learn how to give. In keeping with Paul's text (vv. 9–10), we learn that there's nothing wrong with our giving in order that we might have more to give; that's right in line with God's program.
God's delighted to give; but his return isn't always, by any means, a material return. That's what the next four verses show us (vv. 11–14). Paul's saying that if you give according to the law of harvest — reaping as much or as little as you sow — God will give back. And here's the form it will take: First, it'll awaken gratitude in those to whom you give. Second, it stimulates them to pray for you who've become the object of other people's prayers, i.e., ". . . in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you." When people pray for you, you become the beneficiary of the blessing of God in ways that you, perhaps, will never fully know until you reach glory. And third, it glorifies God with the thanksgiving of many, including our Lord God, because he delights in seeing his people generously respond to others' needs!
Paul winds up his sowing and reaping passage with this one brief sentence: "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" Nothing could ever match the gift that God has given us in his Son, a reality echoed in Apostle Paul's closing verse. Giving is godlike; everywhere in Scripture we're reminded that we're to give because we've received. Therefore, we're encouraged by a passage such as this to sow generously, realizing that we have affluence before we give and influence after we give. Jesus put it as beautifully and as simply as it could ever be put: "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8 KJV). That's God's basis and motive for encouraging our cheerful and generous Christian giving.
Dear Lord: Indeed we've received very much at your hand. We didn't deserve it, but you gave it to us in Jesus Christ. When we remember that you, God, spared not only your one and only Son, but freely delivered him up for us all — what an indescribable gift — we're encouraged to expect that you and Jesus will freely give us all things. May that free giving on your part stimulate us to meet the needs of those around us. Help us to be observant, aware, readily looking for opportunities to give, knowing that our generous sowing increases our joy of reaping, while pleasing you. Please continue to do wonderful things to us, and others, when we give cheerfully and generously. Thank you, Lord, amen.
- Q. 1 With his "sowing and reaping" imagery, is Paul saying that if you give $100, you'll receive $1,000? Why or why not?
- Q. 2 What do you make of the three "all"s in v. 8?
- Q. 3 With giving, why is being able to receive also important (v. 12)?
2 Corinthians 9:6–15
New International Version (NIV)
[You can view it in a different version by clicking here; you can also listen to chapter 9.]
6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written:
"They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever."
10Now 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. 11You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!