Are we talking about money again? Yes, but not exclusively. Vs.6 is a classic verse which has been used on stewardship Sundays for millennia. Paul reminds us that those who sow sparingly, will also reap sparingly. Again, he is speaking in relationship to those who are giving for the ministry of the early 1st century church. He speaks in the verse earlier that he wants the giving from the brothers and sisters to be seen as a voluntary gift and not as an extortion. That’s a pretty harsh word. How could giving to the church be seen as an extortion? Oh, I don’t know, if maybe promises are made.
It is time to speak about the prosperity Gospel which is a fairly pernicious message that many churches espouse. The teaching goes along this line: the more that you give to the church (it is often said that you are giving to God), then the more you will be given by God. God’s desire is that all who follow him would be rich. The only word for this kind of teaching is, frankly, heresy. God’s ultimate desire for us is not that we be as materially endowed as possible. There are some pastors who use guilt in order to puff up their lifestyle by saying something along the lines: God wants his primary servant to be comfortable as he is suffering for the Gospel. Where do you read that? Paul says quite the opposite. God’s servants need to be comfortable in suffering and doing without.
Let’s not forget about vs.7 which states that God loves a cheerful giver. This cheerfulness in giving can only come about if we understand that what we have is not actually ours to begin with. Yes, we have worked hard, yes, we have sacrificed, yes, no one has given us anything. But all that we have could be taken from us. Let’s not forget about Job. Or, conversely, we could receive material gifts which we have never expected or deserved. Giving is a reflection of a recognition that what we have is God’s possession which allows us to use it for His purposes.
The promise that we do have from God is not that we will be prosperous, but rather, as vs.8 states, that we will always have enough of everything. We will never be assured of more than what we need, but we will always have enough. That is a promise that God gives us, not quid pro quo, as in if we give 10% then God will bless us with what we need, but rather a recognition that obedience does lead to eternal promises. That is something we can rely upon.