Giving Freely Because it was Freely Given
There are many preachers today that preach on sowing a seed. Many of the teachings are not based on scriptural principles. In fact the teachings border on the side of the world's economic system and not on God's kingdom standards and precepts. Since so many of God's people give with the wrong concept of giving or the wrong motive I would like to humbly clarify a few things in order that the Body of Christ may be somber in their giving and plentiful in their sowing.
Moreover, many believers, unbeknownst to them have been manipulated into giving or "sowing a seed" as the preachers call it now a days and have been left full of guilt when they did not have the specific amount the stage-manager declared to be a biblical amount. On account of these unbiblical maneuvers I would like to share with the brethren God’s concept of giving and receiving, sowing and reaping. I will attempt to expound on these principles from the book of Ecclesiastes 11:1-3. I pray this short but sound study based on God’s word will help the brethren to give parsimoniously without compulsion, coercion or pressure.
“Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.”
Okay, so I admit, it sounds like a saying you find in a fortune cookie, but let us understand that this is Solomon speaking and that he wrote the book of Proverbs; this was the genre in which the preacher was accustomed to writing and so with that said, let’s look deeper into the meaning of his words and not so much in the style he chose to place the words. As with all good laid out study, let’s go verse by verse to understand the general idea.
Verse One “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.” First of all we need to understand that “waters” in the Bible alludes to multitudes of people and for mourners. This verse alludes to the farmer, who takes the seed from his place to another’s place. Although he knows that this precious seed could be the last seeds he may have to plant next year’s harvest. And also being fully aware that these precious seeds may at least offer him and his family a last meal by which they could grind up the seed, making flour, and thus flour making bread for his family to eat. That’s why this seed is so precious, it is the seed that guarantees next year’s harvest; it is the seed that provides food for him and his family. Even so, the preacher instructs to liberally give these seeds to the poor. The preacher’s instruction is given because he is well aware that if one sows, one shall reap. In fact, one reaps in the like manner in which one sows.
Verse two “Divide your portion to seven or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.” In other words, be generous in your giving. If you meet up with seven who are in need, give to them, and if by chance an eighth person arrives and also needs, give to them as well. Do not withhold in your giving. Simply because you gave before should not be an excuse to not give today or tomorrow. Even if you yourself are going through a hard time, find some way to share that which you have with others. Let your charitable giving be given all the more.
You might ask yourself why God wants us to give even when we don’t know if we will have anything left for ourselves. The answer is two-fold.
· First of all, God wants us to be the same as He is, to be liberal in our giving, and that our giving should not be leftovers, but it should be the best that we have. Our God is rich in mercy to all people. Whether they deserve his mercy or not God still gives liberally.
· Second, we must consider our reward for well-doing. Remember in verse 1 it tells us to “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.”Although it may seem that we have lost, and that perhaps the good that we have done to another may not profit us in any way, God’s word guarantees that there is great reward. Our giving is not lost. Rather it is well laid out, and well laid up in God’s account.
I remember years ago a pastor sharing this idea from his point of view. He claimed that he understood this idea to be likened to a bank in which you give your money to them and place it in a savings account. The bank offers interest upon this account. So you don’t have the money, the bank has the money and you have accumulated interest in the meanwhile. Well, let me just tell you that your giving to another is kept in God’s account. He keeps a thorough record of your giving. Quickly he interjected and said, but unlike the bank, God does not reward you with a minimal interest, oh no, God rewards you with unlimited interest. Amen
In essence, the deed of giving to others brings in full interest; this interest is revealed in the present gifts of God’s providence, graces, and comforts of His Spirit. As for the principal amount originally stored in the bank, well from the bank all you get is what you put in the savings account. Yet, as for God your principal giving is also sure, it has not been wasted in fact we are told that it is laid up in heaven. The principal you have laid up in heaven has been the merciful acts you have bestowed upon others.
Furthermore, the Lord of heaven and earth is storing up this treasure in His book of remembrance. He is keeping a close account of the generosity of one’s heart and the liberality of one’s giving. One’s benevolent acts of charity are stored up in heaven, and at the right time, perhaps not immediately, but at the precise moment, one’s giving shall return to the one who gave liberally and its return will be more plentiful than the one that was originally given.
Verse three “If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.”
In relation to the first half of verse three it concerns itself with the physical manifestation of rain being liberally poured out upon the earth solely when the cumulus cloud generously lets loose the precipitation contained within. In relation to us, our abundant giving reveals the charity (benevolent love) contained in one’s heart.
In addition, the second part of verse three “and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.” These words show that one should not to be concerned as to how many people one can help, or how big the area of influence one might have to help more people may be. Rather, we should understand that wherever one is situated or placed by God that is the location where one should be beneficial to others. We need to remember that wherever God’s providence leads us, there is the place one is to do good deeds that are pleasing unto the Father.
In corroboration to the Old Testament concept of giving and receiving, reaping and sowing the New Testament validates all that Solomon the preacher has instructed. The following scriptures verify to this model.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in.” Matthew 6:19, 20
“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38
“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever.”Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; You will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
In conclusion my brethren let us remember the greatest benevolent act of charity is God’s gift of salvation. This gift was poured out for the benefit of all mankind and efficacious to all who receive. It was a gift given with abundant grace and mercy and drenched with extravagant love. It is given without merit on our part; and while it was free it was not cheap for it cost the Father the shedding of His only begotten Son’s blood. Innocent blood shed for the guilt ridden sinner and the degenerate soul.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
As I come to the end of this study I long to encourage the brethren of our duty as sons and daughters of the Most High to continue to mature in Christ so that we too may be imitators of God; and in doing so we give Him all the glory and honor and praise that is due His name. May we emanate in our lives God’s benevolent kindness; His gracious giving; His magnificent mercy and His righteous love.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1, 2