Decide what you will give and be happy!

Have you ever heard the saying:

“Those who sow a little will reap little, and those who sow much will reap a great harvest.”

Well, that comes from the Bible (2 Corinthians 9). As I remember hearing that saying, it was always followed up with an admonition to give as much as I could give. Give Big! Add a Zero to whatever you are planning to give. Empty the wallet type stuff. After all, why would you not give a lot if you will reap a lot in return? But I think this line of thought is a little off the mark when compared with what was actually discussed in the Biblical passage.

The Apostle Paul is the writer of the letter containing this passage and the Corinthians were the recipients of that letter. Paul was writing in advance of his planned visit to Corinth. In preparation of his visit, he wanted the Corinthians to arrange “the gift” that was anticipated. The gift mentioned was to be a donation for the work among the saints in Macedonia. Paul was evidently impressed by the Corinthian “zeal” toward the work. He in fact mentions his “boast” about their “readiness” toward the “ministry for the saints”. He had no intention of embarrassing himself or the Corinthians by arriving before the gift was ready and possibly having to eat his boasting words about their readiness to give. So he sent some of his coworkers in the gospel ahead of him to ensure all was ready when he and any Macedonian travelers who might venture with him arrived.

Paul had two stated purposes for sending someone ahead of him to Corinth. The first, as discussed above, was to ensure the readiness of the gift. The second reason was likely of more importance to Paul than the first. It was to make sure that any gift given was not seen as “extraction” but rather as a “willing gift”. If Paul were present, the people may have felt under obligation to present a gift to him for the ministry, more specifically a certain sized gift. Paul wanted to be absent so that the people could freely give without the sense of extortion that may be felt when the recipient of the gift is present. We tend to give more when the minister is looking over our shoulder as we write the check. Paul wanted none of that, so he encouraged them to get the giving done before he got there.

Here is where we get to the passage about sowing and reaping. Paul states in verse 6, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul wanted a gift that was cheerfully given not a donation that was reluctantly handed over. I would also suggest that Paul’s analogy was by no means intended to exert pressure on the givers to increase the size of their gifts. Paul makes an obvious, logical statement that the level of reaping directly corresponds to the level of sowing. If you put a small number of seeds in the ground you will reap a small amount of crops. But if you put in a large number of seeds, you will reap a large number of crops. Paul did not suggest one was better than the other or that one was more acceptable than the other. He was simply making a statement of fact.

This viewpoint is further supported later in the passage when Paul states, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart”. He did not say each one must give as much as he can possibly give. Nor did he give the “Add a zero because this is your opportunity to reap a huge harvest!” exclamation. Paul indicates that everyone is responsible for understanding and deciding what they will give and then giving it. In doing this, one can eliminate compulsion and reluctance in giving. A person, giving what they have decided to give, will become what Paul describes as a “cheerful giver”. Also according to Paul, a cheerful giver is something that God loves. In giving, there is no worry about how much you are giving on God’s part. He does not fret over what He will do if you do not add the zero. Believe me, God has it covered. What God is interested in is how much of yourself you give. Did you give freely, without reluctance or compulsion? Did you give selfishly or did you give with a heart of cheerfulness?

At eMite we want every giving opportunity to be one where the giver experiences cheer. We never want to receive a Mite from a hand that would rather hold onto it. We are grateful to be in the company of people who love to give. It encourages us and we know it helps others. We invite you to join this company of givers. Decide what your Mite will be and simply give it. Freely. Cheerfully. Then we can all celebrate!