(2 Corinthians 9:6)
This scripture speaks about reaping and sowing, as do many other verses in the Bible. It is an important point that all people, and Christians especially need to know and understand. The verse says this:
”The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)
Jesus used many analogies with sowing and reaping and so too the Apostles who followed Him, who were charged with the sowing of the Gospel and the reaping of disciples, also spoke in similar terms. And there are some interesting things we can learn from this verse and others, including a little piece of poor translation that sheds a different light on this verse.
You Reap What You Sow
When you look at this verse initially, the first thing that strikes you is that it is telling you that “How” you sow will determine what and how you reap. So if you don’t sow much, then you can’t expect to get much back in return.
If you look at a wheat or a grain farmer, then this makes sense. The farmer who sows ten acres of land will always reap more than the farmer who sows only one acre of land. And also, depending on the crop, if you sow more seed per square metre, then you will reap more grain per square metre.
Although this is not always true as there are some plants where there is an optimum level of what a piece of ground can fruitfully sustain, if you ignore that scenario, then sowing more would normally mean you will reap more.
In the modern church, it is unfortunate that there are some preachers and pastors who have abused this scripture as they teach tithing. The use it to collect more by encouraging their congregations to give more and to give over and above what some can even afford or should be expected to give. Apart from the issues there are with the fact that churches teach tithing incorrectly (check my last few posts for a discussion on this), they use this scripture to take money from their flocks on the pretext that the more they give, the more they will get back in return.
Unfortunately, if the motivation for giving in the first place is to get something more back, then that motivation is wrong. It is based upon greed, not joyful giving from the heart.
Now there is another aspect to this teaching that we should consider also…timing!
Just as a farmer sows a crop and then has to wait for the crop to grow to maturity before he can reap, so too those who sow into anything of the Lord should also expect there will be a time delay before the reaping might be done. Let me give an example.
If you have sown a word into the heart of a non-believer, and they happen to be someone the Lord is calling, it may take time for that seed of the Gospel to germinate and take hold in that person. They may still have things to learn, problems to go through and so on, before the seed takes hold and they understand they are in need of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Even if you think in worldly terms about a financial seed that is sown, say money in a bank deposit. It too will take time to earn interest and grow to whatever level is sought.
My point here is that the return you get, the reaping of the crop, does not happen straight away. You do not reap WHILE you sow. The sowing must first take rot and grow before there can be a reaping of whatever it is you are sowing.
Where You Sow Is Important
Now there is another aspect also to consider, and that is where you sow your seed. You need to sow it in the right place(s), otherwise you cannot expect to reap anything.
Look at this verse where Jesus explains this issue of “where” you sow.
“Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6)
If you are trying to sow the seeds of the gospel to people who are just going to attack you over it, then you will not get any return other than pain, suffering and sorrow. You will never reap good things from a bad sowing. If the Lord is truly trying to work in those people’s lives, He will have a way of doing so that can get through without human input…at least not initially. The heart of a person that is so hard it is not willing to accept Jesus needs softening up first, and Jesus can do that where we may not be able to.
The critical thing in the verse above is that while it is expected to share the gospel with others, their reaction will determine how far you can go with them. Those who immediately turn and attack should be left alone…you don’t try to give them deeper teachings when they will not even accept the raw basics.
Consider also the words of the parable of the sower. Again we see that the seed was spread far and wide as the sower walked and sowed the seed. The sower sowed the seed everywhere, but it was only in the good soil where it took root, grew and brought forth a crop that could be reaped. As for the seed that fell on the path, on rocky ground and in among weeds, these were never going to be able to be reaped because they did not have the capability to grow to maturity.
A Minor Translation Error
Finally, when studying this verse I noted that there is a small translation error that, while it does not drastically alter the thrust of the passage, it does offer a different perspective.
The end of the verse is translated as “…he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” But a more accurate word for the Greek word translated as “bountifully” should be read as “upon blessings.” Thus the scripture would be better rendered as:
”The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows upon blessings will also reap upon blessings.”
Now of course blessings upon blessing could be readily seen as being bountiful, but this rendering adds a little more. When we give blessings and bless those who bless us, we too are blessed. In fact Jesus told us to bless those who curse us also, and we are blessed because of those blessing too.
Why? Because we are acting in the ways of God and Jesus Christ who have given us so many things to be blessed over. When we bless we show that we are indeed the children of God, especially if we bless those who curse us.
And yes, we do receive bountiful blessings on top of all these things. You do indeed reap what you sow. So let us seek to sow what is good among all people, Let us sow peace to receive peace, joy to receive joy, hope to receive hope, encouragement to receive encouragement and love to receive love. And in all of these things we receive the blessings of the Lord by blessing those around us. But if you choose to sow discontent, anger, hatred, jealousy, wrath, revenge and all the negative, sinful passions of mankind, then also you must expect to receive the same in return. You reap what you sow and what you give you will receive in return.
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