In the classic stewardship chapters of 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, Paul points to the humiliation of Christ to warm our heart as we worship Christ with self and substance. He says, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Paul follows up the grace of giving and the sheer honor of giving with the adventure of giving: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
Who expects acres and acres of corn when he plants only six ounces of seed? Of course there is a risk! Seed costs money. It’s a large investment. And then farmers do an odd thing with this investment. They throw it in the dirt and leave it.
“Of course,” we say, “that’s what you’re supposed to do with seed. It will grow.” Precisely! But there are no guarantees. However good the seed may be, however good the ground may be, it is at the mercy of the elements. Drought may wither it. Too much rain may rot it. Too much sun may scorch it. Hail and driving winds may destroy it. Insects may eat it.
But what farmer refuses to run the risk, refuses to plant? Who buys one bucket of seed and then hopes for the best? Not for a moment do you think of the seed as wasted even though, when you go to bed at night, all that expensive seed lies out there in the dirt under the moonlight, ready to sprout and grow in ways you cannot totally understand nor control.
Despite the odds, what farmer, who has sown generously, is pessimistic about the harvest? If that’s the case, why bother farming at all? What Christian, unless he is a hobby Christian, thinks of his gifts to Christ’s Church as wasted, as something to be set down in the loss column? Is not seed meant to be sown? Has not God promised: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again?” Has He not made a pledge to us in His own Book saying, “Bring the full offering into the storehouse and see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out more blessings that you can hold?”
Of course, we will never discover the answer to these questions if we are not adventurous enough to run the risk of faith, to take God at His word. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Luther said that the first thing that gets converted is the heart, then the head, and last of all, the pocketbook. The Holy Spirit alone, through the gospel, can melt our thankless hearts of stone with the reminder: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…”