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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“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. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."  - 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, ESV

In 2 Corinthians the apostle Paul asks the Corinthian church to keep their pledge to financially help poor Christians in Jerusalem.  These and the following verses yield valuable insight into understanding money.  Few issues in our lives are more important for our godliness than handling money well.  Often our prayers and fasting can have little sway with God, in part, because we are not living in conformity with God’s principle of sowing and reaping.

The following principles flow from the biblical text:

  1. We are to be cheerful in our giving, because God will provide for us and even reward us when we voluntarily release control of assets for God’s purposes in the world.  When we cheerfully give we demonstrate true faith in God.  An important caveat is that we should still give even if we are not as cheerful as we ought to be.  The remedy for not being a cheerful giver is not to stop giving. The remedy is to repent of a worldly perspective and to gain understanding that God is our reliable provider.

  2. A powerful motivation for giving generously flows from remembering that giving generously (“sowing”) often leads to greater reaping, materially and otherwise.  These verses are written in the context of financial giving, so to “reap bountifully” includes financial increase, and it probably goes beyond to include other types of blessings that come as a fruit of financial sowing.  However, this truth needs to be qualified in two important ways, so it doesn’t lead to misunderstanding.

  3. First, this principle is an important spiritual dynamic, but it is not an immutable law without exception.  For example, we tell our children to study hard and go to college so they can get good jobs. While this is true, of course there are exceptions: some who don’t study hard get good jobs anyway and vice versa.  There are examples in the Scriptures and throughout history of Christians who lived sacrificially but did not materially prosper as a result of their generosity.  For example, all indications are that the apostles experienced poverty as a result of their sacrificial lives.  

  4. Second, given these qualifications to the law of sowing and reaping, did the apostles feel betrayed or bitter that they sacrificed so much?  There is no indication of this for two reasons.  a) Blessing doesn’t always (although it can) mean financial blessing.  The apostles were blessed with the most treasured reward for the Christian: greater closeness with their Heavenly Father. The same is true for Christians today. b)  In any case, the primary purpose for Christians to receive greater reward is for them to be all the more generous. It is not for the purposes of greed.  Verse 11 says, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (ESV, italics added).  Our motivation for reaping financially from sacrificial giving should be for the sake of increased generosity.  

  5. Finally, the principle of sowing and reaping doesn’t mean that we have earned any of the good things God sends our way.  Just because He has stated that He loves to increase His goodness to us as we sow righteousness, this doesn’t mean that we’ve earned any of it.  Everything we have comes by God’s generous grace.

Seeking God wholeheartedly in prayer and fasting yields blessings in our lives but can’t be pursued apart from living according to God’s everlasting principles as outlined in the Scriptures.  If we expect to reap good things in our lives, it’s important to sow generosity in every way as we seek His face wholeheartedly.
 
Matt Bennett
Founder and President of Christian Union
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