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Sowing and Reaping

Charlie Boyd - 11/12/2023


2 Corinthians 9 is an eye-opening passage when it comes to having God’s perspective on our money and our stuff. The passage is so clear in what it teaches that it may cause us to look at it with a raised eyebrow. One reason for this is that it’s a foundational passage for prosperity theology preachers who teach that God will bless you financially if you give generously to God. But, just because the passage is misapplied doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain a powerful truth that we need to integrate into our thinking about radical generosity. The question is: How do we rightly understand and apply Paul’s teaching on sowing and reaping to our financial lives?


As far as Jesus is concerned, money is always a spiritual issue before it’s a financial issue—because money is, first and foremost, a heart issue. Jesus said: “Where your treasure/your wealth is there will your heart also be (Lk12:34). Sadly, many followers of Jesus seem to think just the opposite—“My financial life has nothing to do with my spiritual life”—or— “My spiritual life has nothing to do with my financial life.” The apostle Paul, knowing Jesus’ teaching on our money and stuff, gives us further instruction on what we can expect from God when our hearts determine to be generous in giving to God’s work in the world.

READ 2 Cor 9:6-7 — The Context: The apostle Paul is collecting a huge offering from the Greek churches he has planted to help their poor, persecuted Jewish brothers and sisters back in Jerusalem. The believers in Corinth had given an unbelievable amount of money for this offering. They had been collecting money for over a year and given generously and sacrificially, over and above, what they were giving to their own churches (2Cor9:1-5). Now, Paul is sending some “brothers” to pick up this offering, and the Corinthian Christians were entrusting this money to Paul to take to the Christians back in Jerusalem—people they had never met. So, Paul writes this second letter to the church in Corinth, and he says, “Thank you for your heart-inspired generosity!” And then he says, “Let me tell you how this whole giving thing works.” He writes: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Clearly, Paul is talking about how God blesses people who are generous givers. He says that being generous is like sowing seed. Every farmer knows that you reap what you sow, and you reap more than you sow.

In the same way, says Paul, if you learn to be generous with your finances, you can expect to reap a bountiful harvest. (Hold on. I promise you that he is not promoting prosperity theology ) Now, it’s also true that you can’t expect a harvest if you don’t sow your seed. The question is: “Exactly how much is being generous?” Paul says (v7), “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart.” That is, you’re free to give as much as you want to give. It’s totally up to you. Just remember, so a little, reap a little; sow a lot, reap a lot. And then he tells you how you’re to give whatever you decide to give. He says, “Give whatever you want but make sure you give cheerfully. Whatever you give, give it with no remorse, no regrets, no reluctance, no guilt, no grumbling. Give out of ‘want to’ not ‘have to.’” The point is that how you give is more important than what you give. In vv8-11, Paul fleshes out what this promise about sowing and reaping actually means. He says (my paraphrase), “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, you will have all your need for every good work.” One more time—In all things, at all times, you will have all you need for every good work.

You can’t get any more financially secure than that. Now, here’s the difference between what Paul is teaching and what prosperity theology teaches—the promise is not about personal gain; it’s about kingdom progress. The promise is not about getting rich; it’s about getting to be even more generous. The promise is that God gives you more “for every good work”—not to spend on yourself. Paul doesn’t teach prosperity theology; he teaches generosity theology. Here’s the “big idea;” God blesses generous givers so we can be even more generous. STOP. Read again vv9-11. He says, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.” There is nothing in the passage about getting rich for personal gain. But God does promise to bless generous givers so they can continue to partner with what He is doing to change people’s lives. He says, “I’m working to accomplish My work in the world, and I’m inviting you to partner with Me in what I am doing in people’s lives.”

Read 9:9-15. Paul says, “When you generously and cheerfully give to God’s work in changing people’s lives: (1) You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way; (2) People’s needs will be met; “and (3) God will be glorified through many people giving thanks to God. invest in My work in the world. Notice how Paul ends this teaching. He clearly links our need-meeting, thanksgiving-producing, God-glorifying generosity to the grace we’ve received in the Gospel. He ties everything back to the surpassing grace we’ve received in the inexpressible gift of grace that has come to us through the Gospel of Jesus. Yes indeed, “Thanks be to God for His. Inexpressible gift.”

*We are a church located in Greenville, South Carolina. Our vision is to see God transform us into a community of grace passionately pursuing life and mission with Jesus.