What Do You Do With Seed?

2019-10-27 – Year C – Proper 25 – Joy of Giving Up Series – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Jeremiah 14:7-10,19-22; Psalm 84; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Luke 18:9-14

  • This is now the final week of our three sermon series on the “Joy of Giving Up.”
  • In the first sermon, we met the Apostle Paul, the author, the Corinthians who “excel in everything,” and the generous Macedonians.
  • Last week we talked about how the way we handle our money has a remarkably formative effect on our hearts, much more powerful than anything we say.
    • When we give sacrificially, we imitate Christ, who became poor for our sake. And, as Paul says, this very act of giving increases in us the desire to give—it trains us in Christ-likeness and gives an authentic witness to the world.

Seed

  • In chapter 9, Paul turns to a farming metaphor.
    • Joke: Farmer Evans was driving his John Deere tractor along the road with a trailer load of fertilizer. Tim a little boy of eight was playing in his yard when he saw the farmer and asked, ‘What’ve you got in your trailer?’ ‘Manure,’ Farmer Evans replied. ‘What are you going to do with it?’ asked Tim. ‘Put it on my strawberries,’ answered the farmer. Tim replied, ‘You ought to come and eat with us, we put ice-cream on our strawberries.’
  • There are three things you can do with seed: consume it, store it, or sow it.
  • Similarly, there are three things that we can do with money: spend it, save it, or give it. We need to do all three of these.
    • We spend regularly on our needs and our wants. This is the easiest of the three.
    • We save for big purchases and for rainy days.
    • Finally, we can give, or as Paul puts it, “sow” our money. When we ‘sow’ our money, we invest it in productive work for the sake of others. This is, perhaps, the best use and yet it can be the hardest one to convince ourselves to do.
  • But listen to this instruction from Paul – 2 Corinthians 9:6
    • Sowing and reaping, sparingly and generously.
      • If you sow a few carrot seeds in a small garden bed, you can expect that you will likely have a few carrots to eat in 4-6 weeks.
      • If you plant rows and rows of carrot seeds in a large field, you can expect that you will have more carrots than you can eat!
    • But what is the nature of the increase that Paul talks about?
      • Prosperity gospel proponents would wrongly claim this as God’s promise that in sowing this seed, we will reap rewards.
      • Paul tells us exactly what kind of an increase to expect in 2 Corinthians 9:10. God promises 1) bread for food 2) seed for sowing and 3) an increase in the harvest of your righteousness.
      • Giving actually helps us to become more holy. Not because we are paying for God’s favor but because the discipline of giving helps us to become less selfish and more generous.
    • v. 11 We will be “enriched in every way to be generous in every way.”

The Inexpressible Gift

  • The ultimate source and end of all this giving is the “inexpressible gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) of God’s grace to us in Christ.
  • As John writes, it is his love that generates all of our love. 1 John 4:7, 10-11
    • We turn around and love others becasue God first loved us.
    • We love one another in sacrificial ways becasue that is the kind of love that God demonstrated to us in Christ Jesus.
    • It is for his kingdom and for his glory that we labor.
    • When we give, thanksgivings abound. 1 Corinthians 9:12. This is the real harvest! It is people and their relationships with God.

The Cheerful Giver

  • “We sometimes think of giving money as something that happens ‘on the side of our worship. Or perhaps we think of it as just a technical necessity, after all, we’ve got to keep the lights on and the water running. But that’s not what we see in Paul’s missionary journey. He did not separate generosity from the message of the gospel, and neither should we. They are inextricably linked together. If giving isn’t a central part of our Christian life, we aren’t really living the Christian life at all.”
    • We give because we have confessed the lordship of Jesus and fully submitted to his call on our lives in all things.
    • We give to acknowledge that everything we have belongs to the Lord and we are merely caretakers of the things that we have.
    • We give because God is a generous God and we are made in his image.
    • We give because it inspires joy in our hearts.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7–8 – God loves a cheerful (hilaros gk.) giver. Also “merry,” or “joyous.”
    • As we talked about last week. The more you give, the more you desire to give. The initial obedience is like training wheels for the joy of giving.
  • You should have all received a pledge card in the mail this week. As you pray about pledging for 2020 I want you to reflect on the things we have talked about this month.
    • Consider where your treasures are stored and the condition of your hearts.
    • Consider the principles of sowing and reaping that we talked about this morning and the impact your giving makes on God’s kingdom.
    • Consider your identity as a generous person made in the image of God.
  • Please bring your pledge cards with you to church next week on All Saints Sunday so we can all present our gifts to the Lord together!
    • I pray that in your giving this year God will bring you great joy as you give up!

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