Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reaping and Sowing

     It has been a while since we were in 2 Cor... the thrust of chapter 8 continues in
My personal favorite...
chapter 9, and likely the best passage in the Bible on giving is supported with O.T. texts and examples. A tragedy of our culture of churchianity is the influx of the prosperity gospel; I know it shouldn't be difficult for you, so imagine your favorite false teacher while you read these verses, whoever it is from TBN or your local community that twists and perverts the Scripture's teaching on money.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:6-8)        
     Now, we all know how easy it is to take one verse out of the Bible and build a theology around it... vs. 6 is the Holy Grail for the wolves looking for tasty meal of sheep (or more properly, the sheep's wallets). What could be more persuasive than the question "Financially, do you want to reap sparingly or bountifully?"? This is true especially for the carnal church member who views church as a ready-made social network to sell to/benefit from. On one of our bus routes, there's a church called "Abundant Faith International Christian Center"... Jn 10:10 is another prime target of misuse for those preying on those unsatisfied with the eternal perspective of simple, self-denying godliness. So as supposed biblical justification for a divinely-empowered get-rich-quick scheme, "You reap what you sow" is in the top three, easy, a supposed proof text for a bible bait-and-switch.
"You give me your money, and God will give you His!"
     But when we take a step back and consider how Scripture itself interprets Scripture (rather than a televangelist with a private jet), it's more clear, and more reasonable that vs. 6 is not talking about a "financial seed" given as a loan to God to expect repayment on (with 1000% interest!), but about a heart attitude of generosity and love, a biblical apprehension of how God thinks about money and what He expects us to do with it. If every New Covenant believer really is indwelt with God the Holy Spirit, and in the process of being led into all truth and righteousness (Jn 16:13), the best judge of each individual's responsibility and ability to give is that individual. So no external pressure based on the insufficiency of the Old Covenant is necessary... no coercive manipulation, which is the trademark of our religious hucksters, is proper in collection and/or requesting of funds for local fellowship needs.
     Every households' needs and situation can be unique, but the stinginess of the old nature must be checked, too. Some folks are naturally more concerned for the well-being of others (like my wife), but some are cold and callous (like me). So as a side note and counterbalance, I remember a question from a newly married couple a few years ago; they couldn't agree and for the sake of discretion, I'll remain silent on who thought what. But their question was simple: "Should we give/tithe on our gross income or the net (before or after taxes)?" My answer was equally concise: "Do you want God to bless you on the gross or on the net?" Not only would "net giving" put earthly taxes before our obligations to God, but it would also treat Him as most Americans do the IRS... as an institution to be avoided through loopholes. Let's be honest: the poorest American has more wealth at his disposal than virtually all others in the whole of recorded history. Shame on us when we prioritize a newer car or an Iphone higher than the blessing of loving our brethren (other Christians first, then unbelievers as we have opportunity) financially. And think about it: proper financial discipline and priorities are sure to spill over and be translated into godliness in other areas.
     As I've stated elsewhere, Social Security should be a poor substitute for Church Security, the holistic care that the Body of Christ renders to itself. So we've got God's love of giving and His generosity as a model for ours (2 Cor 8:9); next time we'll get into the promised divine supply extended for all Christian giving, and the incredible "food-chain" of grace initiated by God and continued through us.

Photos courtesy of dmich140, gregkendallball

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments worthy of the calling with which Christ calls us!