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2 Corinthians 9:6

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

How many of us have heard—or have even uttered ourselves—a statement such as this one: “Don’t become a Christian because you will escape hell; become a Christian because you will get God.” It is a well-meaning sentiment, reflecting the truth that our desire for the Lord should be chiefly a desire for Him and His glory and not for things He can give us or for ways we can benefit from Him. However, sentiments such as this one are overstated and run the risk of forcing us into the false choice of God’s majesty or our own self-interest. Truthfully, Scripture never forces us to make that choice. There is a godly and legitimate way to look out for our self-interest. It is not inherently wrong to pursue what is best for us or even to look for blessings from the Lord; problems arise when our pursuit of such things is at the expense of glorifying God or at the expense of what is best for others. At that point, we are talking not about self-interest but about the sin of selfishness.

Today’s passage demonstrates that Christians may look out for their own welfare and even their own abundance. As Paul continues to exhort the Corinthians to complete their collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem, he appeals to the principle of sowing and reaping. When farmers set out to grow food, the more seeds they sow, the greater their harvest will be. Similarly, when it comes to spiritual matters, the more we invest, the greater our return. When it comes to assisting others materially, the more that we help, the greater blessing we receive (2 Cor. 9:6).

Obviously, Paul appeals to the Corinthians’ self-interest here to urge them on to greater giving. He makes a point similar to the one he made in 8:10: giving to the collection for the suffering believers in Jerusalem is good for the Corinthians. It will help them grow in grace, for in their generosity they will become more like their generous Creator (see James 1:5). As the great nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge comments, “It is right to tell men that obedience to God, devotion to his glory and the good of others, will effectually promote their own welfare.”

Certainly, the Apostle does not teach the modern “prosperity gospel” that promises great material wealth to those who give money to the kingdom. He leaves the nature of what we will reap ambiguous, for God is sovereign in the specific ways He blesses those who serve Him.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Today’s passage promises a bountiful harvest of blessing to those who invest in the kingdom of God and care for other believers’ material needs. However, it does not specify the blessings. On this side of glory, we can be sure that we will receive spiritual blessings, and we may even receive material blessings in addition (Eph. 1:3; see also Mark 10:29–30). Whatever we receive, we should give confident that the Lord will give us back more than we invest.

For Further Study
  • Proverbs 11:18
  • Hosea 10:12
  • 2 Corinthians 9:10
  • Galatians 6:6–10

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From the November 2021 Issue
Nov 2021 Issue