One principle to be followed in planting a family garden concerning the number of seeds is, be liberal (v. 6). In our Lord’s time farmers used the broadcast method, not row planting, in putting out seeds. Jesus gave a graphic illustration in His parable of the sower (Matt. 13:4-8). Only about 25 percent of the seeds landed on usable land. Some were devoured by fowls (v. 4), some falling on stony ground lack moisture (v. 4), and others fell among thorns (v. 7). A few fell on good ground (v. 8). We used to hear a little poem we recited when sowing corn kernels. Sow four kernels: one for the draught, one for the crow, one for the cutting worm, and one to grow. Before the availability of herbicide and fungicides, the harvest outcomes were not as automatic as is usually true today. But remember: the Bible in our assigned text has to do with liberality in helping the needy.
A second principle is give cheerfully (v. 7). To create an atmosphere of cheerfulness, the Bible lists two feelings within us that hinder that attitude. The first is a feeling of necessity, a notion one must act out of a sense of duty or compulsion. The second is grudging, a reluctance to help the needy because it would be wasted. In the fruitful approach, one would rejoice at the chance to make a difference in the lives of fellow believers when circumstances had reduced them to helplessness.
Third, believers contributing to the aid of those desperately in need will reap God’s grace bountifully (vv. 8-9). God is able because He has the power to shower the benefits of grace on those who are working for Him. Someone has summarized a relevant truth in three statement: He scattered abroad; He gave to the poor; His righteousness abides forever. So, we trust God to meet our needs while making spiritual investments for the long term. Two illustrations from life illustrate the point. A woman speaking at a conference attempted to excuse poor people from the responsibility of tithing. A woman in the audience later shared her testimony. She was one of those living on Social Security income. Money was tight, but she said, “Please do not deprive me the joy of tithing to be a part of the Lord’s work.” A deacon shared the following testimony. Each Sunday he went by the home of an elderly home-bound widow. She wanted her tithe to be included in the day’s report. He confessed that her faithfulness helped keep his financial priorities straight. God’s grace abounds.
Fourth, in Christian sharing we remember God’s infinite supply (v. 10). God, who supplies what we need for sowing and reaping, will increase those benefits for us as we sow spiritual seeds which will induce increase the fruits of our righteousness.
Finally, we accept our responsibility for caring for others as a part of our ministry (vv. 11-13). We have to deal with these verses carefully, almost reverently, because of the use of words which are also used in worship contexts. For example, the word thanksgiving (vv. 11, 12) in the Greek is the word “eucharist,” the name used by some to refer to the Lord’s Supper. Also, “service” translate for deacon (v. 12). “Administration” (v. 12) in the Greek provides us with the word “liturgy,” a collection of particular arrangements for public worship. Finally, the allusion to gifts given to the poor resulting in a righteousness which remains forever (v. 10). The word righteousness also can have profound significance as in Romans 5:17, 18 and 21. Our work for Christ pays dividends, now and forever.
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