II Corinthians 9:6-15
November 2, 2014
There’s an old expression, “You reap what you sow.” Have you heard that? I don’t know if it comes from this passage or not. But if it does, the meaning has been changed a little. Because when we use that expression today, it’s most often used in the negative, isn’t it? “If bad things happen, it’s because you’ve made bad choices.” “You reap what you sow.”
That’s not the meaning here, though. It’s the same idea, but here the meaning is positive. Yes, Paul starts a bit negative. “He who sows sparingly, will reap sparingly.” But listen to the second part. “And he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully!” And that makes sense! You put more seeds in the ground, you get more crops! And since this whole passage is all about the abundance of God’s blessings, I believe the focus here is on the positive. “He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully!”
I like that! As you know from my earliest days in this Church, I believe the kingdom of God is all about abundance. What did Jesus say? “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly!” That’s something we often forget. And it’s good to hear again and again. And I believe that should be the focus of our Stewardship. I believe we should be doing everything we do, looking to the abundance and the joy of the kingdom of God. As Jesus said, we should seek first his kingdom! And we should remember how that statement ended – “and all these things will be added unto you!” That’s abundance!
So, we’ve been talking about the various expressions of Stewardship. The Stewardship Committee has been telling you about the stewardship of our time, and our talents, and our treasure. And we’ve also talked recently about the stewardship of prayer. We’ve said how that spiritual part of stewardship really underlies all the rest. Because the greatest part of Stewardship is found in these words which we’ve been using as our theme. “We are Stewards of God’s Grace.” I hope you see how big a thing it is to be stewards of God’s Grace!
I believe all that is very positive. And I know there’s a tendency for churches to do Stewardship from the negative. I understand that, but I’m very much against it. But you know it sometimes happens that way. People get scared and they say, “Give of yourself, because things are bad.” I’ve heard that in so many churches, and I don’t think it helps. In fact, statistics show it doesn’t help. People respond more to encouragement. People are more apt to give to a winning cause. So I think our message needs to be the same as Paul’s in this passage. “Give of yourself because things are good!” “He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully!”
But, “What is good?” I hear you ask. “We’re living in tough times!” Yes, that may well be true. So, I feel compelled to answer that first question, “What is good?” And I have to say that God’s Grace is good. And I have to say again what I said a few weeks ago, that “Life is good – though it’s not always easy.” But life is good because we are God’s people!
Remember here, that the people Paul was writing to were going through their own tough times. That’s one of the reasons Paul was always talking about encouraging, upbuilding, and edifying. He knew that his encouragement was needed. And he knew that, despite the circumstances, those people were part of something much bigger! And we need to know that, too! We need to be sure what our stewardship is about! Yes, we are stewards of our time, our talent, our treasure. And like we said last week, we are stewards of prayer. But again, all of that, and so much more, is about being “stewards of God’s Grace!”
Now, I don’t know, maybe that’s a little too much “Spiritual Sunshine” being thrown at you. But let me remind you of the parable Jesus told about “The Unjust Steward.” Each of the first two stewards in that parable used the master’s talent and made more. But not the third. But remember, he didn’t waste the talent he was given. He hid it! He buried it in the ground! He didn’t use what he had because he was afraid! And he let his fears rule his actions! That’s why the master was upset with him!
And sure, we have things to fear. But, we must not let our fears rule our actions. We need to know that we are part of something much bigger! We need to know that we are God’s people! We need to do stewardship from that perspective! We need to be people who look to the joy of God’s kingdom in our midst! And so, we need to sow bountifully! And again, that doesn’t mean we’re always in midst of good times. But we need to know that, no matter what the circumstances, we are part of God’s kingdom! We need to remember that. And we need to celebrate that! We need to “sow bountifully,” for in doing so, the promise is that, “we shall reap bountifully.”
Consider all of that. Consider all that God has done for you. And consider now, in our time of dedication, what you will do for him!
Eternal God, as we move now to our time of dedication, help us to remember, help us to know for sure that we are your people. We thank you for your amazing Grace, and we pray for a sure and certain knowledge that we are stewards of that Grace. Help us to be people who know your abundance in our lives, and who sow bountifully and reap bountifully. These things we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.