By Rev SEIK PITOI
IN parts of the world, especially in the northern hemisphere, they have four seasons – spring, summer, autumn (fall) and winter.
As someone once said, we in PNG have only two season – ‘suntar and raintar’ (sun and rain)! The seasons come and go at their appointed times, as they have been set in motion by the One who designed them.
In His infinite wisdom, God created the entire universe and put in place laws that govern how things function. Sir Isaac Newton, who in 1666 gave his third law of motion, said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. These laws of nature, as expressed in physics as laws and theories, are often said to be universal. Some clever people who discovered these laws tell us that they apply everywhere and at every time, past, present and future, regardless of who you are. For example, the law of gravity can be tested at any time by stepping off the veranda of your house – and landing on the ground in a heap!
In the book of Genesis, after the ark arrives safely on dry land, a grateful Noah builds an altar and worships God. God is pleased with Noah and vows not to destroy the earth again (8:20-21). In verse 22, God says, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Hence, God set in motion the seasons, including the law of sowing and reaping, at their appointed times (Ecc 3:1-8).
A natural and spiritual law
The law of sowing and reaping is also called the law of reciprocity, or giving and receiving. Seedtime (a time of planting, sowing) will be followed by a time of reaping or harvesting what was sown. Ask any gardener today and they will concur. This law applies both in the natural and the spiritual. You harvest today what you planted yesterday. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul says (Galatians 6: 6): “… whatever a man sows, that he also will reap.” 2 Cor 9:6 also says, “He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.” The Lord Jesus explained that sowing a small mustard seed can bring forth a huge tree (Matt 13: 31-32). These are principles that God has in His word that govern this particular law.
God’s word has told us that we only reap what we sow. That means, if we sow pumpkin seeds, we should not expect to see a mango tree growing. We plant pumpkin seeds, we get pumpkin; we plant guava seeds, we get guava. Moreover, the principle also tells us that you will get more for what you sow. For instance, a single grain of corn will bring forth a corn plant bearing many ears of corn with multiple grains. Also, if you plant a lot of seeds, you naturally will get a large harvest. If you sow a few seeds, you get a small harvest.
We also see this principle work in the area of marriage. The success or failure of your marriage depends on the kind of seeds you are sowing into it. Sowing seeds of jealousy, criticism, arguing and strife will return a harvest of conflict, fights and possibly even divorce. But sowing seeds of love, respect, faithfulness and understanding will bring forth a good marriage. This applies to every relationship, whether marriage, family, work, among friends in the community or at church. Sow seeds of love and respect, and reap a harvest of peace and harmony.
The Lord Jesus gave us more examples of reciprocity when he said, don’t judge or you will be judged. Do not condemn or you will be condemned. Forgive so you will be forgiven. That is relational, but Jesus moves on to the financial. He says in Luke 6: 38 that when you give, it will be given back to you. How? Pressed down, shaken together, running over (like overstuffed food packs from the kaibar)! Some people say God is not interested in money; only preachers love to talk about money. But that is not true. Jesus taught twice as much about money than about faith and love! In 1 Timothy 6: 10, it says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Money is not evil – just loving it is! Ecc 10: 19 adds: “money answers all things.”
So money is important. To give money is to sow seed. But what, why, how, where and when do we sow? Let’s answer some of these questions from God’s word:
1. What to give?
We are to give tithes and offerings. God’s tithe is 10 per cent of everything we have. “And the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD”. (Lev 27:30). Is tithing under the Law? No, it predates the Law. The first mention is when Abraham gave a tithe of the booty to Melchizedec, King of Salem and King of Righteousness (a type of Christ) in Genesis 14. Melchizedec blessed Abraham with bread and wine, emblems of the Holy Communion.
Here is a true statement about tithing:
Abraham commenced it (Gen. 14:18-20); Jacob continued it (Gen. 28:22); Moses commanded it (Lev. 27:30, 32); Malachi confirmed it (Mal 3:10); Jesus commended it (Mt. 23:23); and who am I to cancel it? (2 Cor. 9:7)!
God challenges backslidden Israel in Malachi 3: 10 thus: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” In light of this verse, it is clear that if we do not tithe, the windows of heaven will not be open in our lives.
God owns the whole world, and He owns us and everything we have (Psalm 24:1; 50:10). Yet, He asks us to return only a tenth to Him, while we sustain ourselves with 90 percent, out of which we may also give freewill offerings. Simply put, if your salary is K450 per fortnight (gross), your tithe is K45. An offerings is anything over and above the tithe.
2. Why give?
We do not give because God needs our money. He doesn’t. He actually owns everything so He doesn’t need our money. But we need His blessings. We give because the Law of reciprocity says we get back in return. His promise in Mal 3: 10-11 also says when we give, He will rebuke the devourer and our vines will be loaded with fruit! We give
A crop expert inspecting a rice field . A single seed brings forth a
plant bearing multiple grains. Such is the law of sowing and reaping.
because God always gives back big time! But importantly, we give because we love and obey Him (Luke 6: 38).
3. How to give?
We give with the right attitude. We give in faith (Heb 11:6), believing that God will honour His word as we obey Him. We don’t give with complaints or out of compulsion (forced by some senior clergy to give)! We give cheerfully (2 Cor 9: 7). We also give because we love God and want to see His Kingdom purposes fulfilled.
4. Where to give?
According to Malachi 3, we bring our tithes to ‘the storehouse’. The storehouse is where grain is kept and distributed. This refers to the local church where the ministry of the Word happens. Tithes go to the local church; offerings can be used to bless other ministries within or outside the church.
5. When to give?
We give when we meet for service on Sundays (or Shabbat service on Saturdays). 1 Cor 16: 2 says “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”
6. Who to give?
We give to God through His Body, the Church. As a King, God is worthy of our best gifts in talent, time and treasure (The 3 “T”s)! But the best we can give Him apart from these is our lives. We must make sure we give Him our lives and are saved first, before anything else (2 Cor 8: 5). Otherwise, our elaborate giving will be a waste of time!
Secondly, we give to help others. The Bible talks about giving alms to the poor (Prov 19: 17; Matt 6:2). We are also to assist our fellows believers who are in need (Rom 15: 26).
God gave, so we give!
We have just seen what God says about giving. He commands us to give because He is a giving God (John 3:16). It’s in His nature to give. God gives us everything we need in life by His grace. As we are created in God’s image, we too have the potential to give. It is also in our nature. For instance, Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11: 13).
Giving breaks the yoke of bondage. Giving to God demonstrates our faith, and is an expression of our love for Him. Giving opens the heavens over our lives. Therefore, let us give back to God what is rightfully His. But what happens when it is not the right season to sow? What do we do when we are in a season of famine or lack? Will we still give? We will look at that question in next week’s article.
• Rev Seik Pitoi is a freelance writer.
God’s word has told us that we can only reap what we sow.