In II Corinthians 8 and 9, the Apostle Paul develops ten principles of Christian giving. In this installment, John Stott explains the final three concepts.

8. Christian giving resembles a harvest.


Remember this:  Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.  As it is written: 'He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor: his righteousness endures for ever.'


Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion,... ~ II Corinthians 9:6-11a (NIV)


Two harvest principles are here applied to Christian giving.


First, we reap what we sow.  Whoever sows sparingly reaps sparingly, and whoever sows generously reaps generously (v.6). 'Sowing' is an obvious picture of giving.  What then can we expect to 'reap'? 

We should not interpret Paul's point as if he were saying that the more we give the more we will get, and that our income will keep pace with our expenditure.  No.  Each should give 'what he has decided in his heart to give'; neither reluctantly, nor under compulsion, nor, for that matter, calculating what he will receive in return (Luke 6:34, 35), but rather ungrudgingly, because 'God loves a cheerful giver' (v.7).


If we give in this spirit, what will happen? Answer: 'God is able to make all grace abound to you' so that 'in all things' (not necessarily in material things) on the one hand you may have all you need, and on the other you may 'abound in every good work' because your opportunities for further service will increase (v.8).  As Scripture says, the consequence of giving to the poor is to have a righteousness that endures forever (v. 9; Ps. 112:9).


The second harvest principle is that what we reap has a double purpose.  It is both for eating and for further sowing.  For the God of the harvest is concerned not only to alleviate our present hunger, but also to make provision for the future. 


So he supplies both 'bread for food' (immediate consumption) and 'seed to the sower' (to plant when the next season comes round).  In the same way, God will 'supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness' (v.10).