7 Jul 2001

Sowing and Reaping ... and the grand show

Submitted by theshovel
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So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness. Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver 2 Corinthians 9:5-7

We see those words "sparingly" and "bountifully" and are probably making the same false assumptions the disciples did when Jesus pointed out the old woman with her two small copper coins (Mark 12:41-44). You see, if we're mixed up on what it means to SOW SPARINGLY then we're equally mixed up on what it means to REAP SPARINGLY. Likewise, if we think that "bountiful" can be measured in dollars we might actually be sowing SPARINGLY while thinking we're so generous - or the other way around! I have discovered that the distinction between the stingy and the truly generous gift is so obvious that it surprises me how easily I forget it!!

Consider these phrases:

"a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness."
"as he has purposed in his heart;"
"not grudgingly or under compulsion"
"a cheerful giver"

Look at that first one and ask yourself what might have caused Paul to insert the comment about covetousness. Whatever it was, it would prevent the gift from being "ready AS a bountiful gift". Are you following that? In other words, if their gift was affected by covetousness then it might not be ready and it would not be bountiful, even though it might end up being larger. Yes, I have reasons for suggesting that.

Paul was sending some brothers on ahead to keep this very thing from happening. The question is, how would that have made a difference? Were they being sent to intimidate or maybe to reinforce Paul's law? Well, if that is not the case, then why, and what was it about their situation that caused Paul to find it necessary to urge some of the Macedonians to go on ahead to make preparations? And how does the fact that Paul refused to be there during any money collections add into the equation (see last Shoveletter)?

Isn't it reasonable to consider that something was going on among the Corinthian believers to turn them from following their own heart's desire? Otherwise, why would Paul have brought attention to it adding "not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver"? Paul wasn't just including info to make for good Bible verses, for he knew that only true freedom produced cheerful giving. He was forcing them to stand upon the freedom that had set their hearts free. But there were some among them who were not happy with the results of this freedom because it did not benefit their own purposes. And they worked hard to successfully stifle that purposed desire of those cheerful givers. How? Through covetousness.

Covetousness is not restricted to simply wanting somebody else's stuff, it touches on everything. They wanted riches, they wanted prestige, they wanted power, they wanted respect. They wanted to be thought of as Paul was - as God's special messengers - not just apostles, but super-apostles (2 Corinthians 12:11 NIV). Their jealousy drove them insane and caused the whole group to line up behind them in despising the man through whom freedom was preached. These men were competing with one another in order to boast the greatest and most influential followings (1Corinthians 1:10-13).

And it worked, the Corinthian believers had become full of themselves. Paul asked them,

For who regards you as SUPERIOR? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you BOAST as if you had not received it? You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings WITHOUT US; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. 1 Corinthians 4:7-8

Note: this passage has nothing to do with their true riches in Christ, but with their illusion of having MORE than another, especially considering the fact that this "already filled ... already rich" was something they supposedly had over Paul).

Through the deception of the fleshly mind they had begun basing their identity upon an impressive outward appearance (of which very few had before the miraculous work of the Spirit - 1 Corinthians 1:26). In response to all their delusions of grandeur Paul presents himself - the despised one, the fool, the weak - as the one to be imitated.

For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 1 Corinthians 4:9

How's that for a good role model? Taken together, these two Corinthian letters reveal a man who could have stood upon his previous credentials but would only boast in his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). Why did he do this?

We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, SO THAT YOU WILL HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THOSE WHO TAKE PRIDE IN APPEARANCE AND NOT IN HEART 2 Corinthians 5:12

Do you realize what would have happened if Paul was there when the collection was taken up? These so-called super-apostles would have taken the opportunity to make a grand show of it so they could be seen as superior to Paul, and the rest would have followed suit. It would have been a pathetic display of spiritual competition, and the money would have been rolling in! It wouldn't have been from a cheerful heart, it would have been grudgingly and under compulsion just so they could show themselves to be spiritual. Even without Paul's presence they would have done the same, though probably not as flagrant, because the flesh only does what it considers necessary.

In sending a group of Macedonians ahead, Paul created a dilemma for their fleshly demonstrations because it would prevent the show from taking place, and the gift would be established in freedom as freely given and bountiful.

More to come ...

Comments

theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: July 7, 2001 by Richard
Note: this passage has nothing to do with their true riches in Christ, but with their illusion of having MORE than another, especially considering the fact that this “already filled … already rich” was something they supposedly had over Paul).

Isn’t this much of the spirit and mentality throughout the organized body of Christ.
Thier name, Baptist verses Pentecostal/Catholic/Charismatic.
How they worship compared to the church down the street.
We believe in the gifts and they operate in our church unlike the ——— church.
We believe in total immersion verses sprinkling.
Our pastor isn’t just born again, he’s spirit filled!!
Not going to say anything bad re: the church on the corner but at least my people are willing to do carpet time, get in the river, spend time soaking in His presence.
This is only a microscopic snap shot of the nausiating crap that goes on every day in the name of God, supposedly for His Glory.
No wonder the world is taking notice of the church. NOT!!!
What a joy/privallage to connect with the Living One! Plus to also connect with others that are alive simply because of the same Living One!!
What a wonderful choice of words
Why settle for a contract/knowledge/principles/precepts, when Life is just waiting to burst forth from the Lover of our Soul!!
I’m so glad that I’m a looser, yah you heard me right, part of the meaning in the dictionary is ’ free from a state of confinement, restraint,’
Blessed poverty in exchange for the true riches found only in Him!!

“No wonder the world is taking notice of the church. NOT!!!”
Richard, you are so right in this! It is such a shame that the “church” has fit itself into that statement of Paul’s: “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles (the outside world) because of you.” Romans 2:24 Jim

Posted: July 7, 2001 by Lori
WOW!!!!! This is sooooo good! Finally someone has addressed the issue of tithes and offerings! It is so good to actually hear the truth! I mean God is much more concerned with our hearts, then with our performance. I have always hated this compitition and super spirituality. You have a great way of expressing what I know I have understood all the time, but did not have the words. God love a cheerful giver - not under compulsion or too look good. How many people even in their own churches collect offerings, or count the offerings, and take notice of the big givers, yet fail to realize that it is God who gives to the giver. You know the old lady that gave two mites she gave all that she had - how many rich folk out their would give their whole months wages?

Hello Lori!! Thanks for writing. :)

“You have a great way of expressing what I know I have understood all the time, but did not have the words.”

I am always delighted to hear this spiritual reality because it speaks of the witness of God within us. We really do know all things … we just don’t always know how to express it or tie it together … but we KNOW it because Christ has put His Spirit within us!! Even though the truth He has put within us can be discussed among us it itself is NOT intellectual in nature, but is instead ALIVE or in nature.

Lori, thanks for sharing your blessing, and I hope to hear from you again! Love, Jim

Jim my brother, consider this statement you made here:

“ But there were some among them who were not happy with the results of this freedom because it did not benefit their own purposes. And they worked hard to successfully stifle that purposed desire of those cheerful givers. How? Through covetousness.”-JM

This captures the very SAME spirit that stirred up the silversmith here in Acts:

A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

Ever notice this same exact preoccupation with ALL of the posers that minister according to fleshy thinking? Not to mention the average human being we call neighbor?

Great article brother,

Adam

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I came to learn more about the miraculous mind of the spirit of God within me through the battles I assumed I needed to win ... in the name of Christ, of course. :)   source