There are a lot of people out there in the world. Authorities estimate the world population at just above seven billion. People everywhere are talking about “sustainability” as they observe the strain on the environment that the population generates.
One of the hallmarks of the day we live in is clearly stated in the Bible.
(2 Timothy 3:1–2 ESV) “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,”
Notice the “times of difficulty” come because of carnal people. Most pastors tell me that to accomplish the call of God on their lives it is difficult due to a lack of finances and a lack of help. People are primarily interested in themselves and ignore others, and there’s a lot of them.
As I travel the world ministering on “Building the Financial Base of the Local Church,” I find that this scripture is one of the biggest challenges that pastors face. Multitudes of Christians have been influenced by this spirit of the world but are completely blind to it because they are carnal. Society teaches them to live for and please themselves, and then, the influential financial ministers have trained them to be selfish in their motive and with their money. Most of the financial teaching in the Body of Christ has only produced greed in the saints - a truth proven by the lack of finances to further the Kingdom.
A farmer plants seed for himself - not for others. The saints have been literally “hammered” with the doctrine of sowing their seed for their personal need. It has become a doctrine of greed, but hardly anyone identifies it as so. The “powers that be” have firm control of the minds of the saints in this matter, but I believe God wants this to change - now.
Jesus and other people.
What Jesus did, He did for other people. My guess is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had it very well in heaven, but God looked at us and was moved with compassion at what He saw.
(2 Corinthians 8:8–9 ESV) “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
This scripture is most often used to justify and prove prosperity for the saints based upon substitution. However, that is not even close to the context in which it is stated. Besides, we don’t need this scripture to justify prosperity, as there are many others that prove the doctrine. I don’t believe that the prosperity of the believer is a doctrine that remains in question, but this scripture does not speak to that issue.
Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to prove their love is genuine in the same way that Jesus proved His love was genuine - by giving up something for someone else. Jesus didn’t become poor as a seed sown for a harvest to become wealthier. He became poor so that other people would have something.
Abraham and other people.
I don’t believe Abraham has been represented in the way he should be. He was a very unique man and pursued the call of God at all cost. What Abraham did, he did for other people.
Abraham answers the call of God.
(Genesis 12:1–4 ESV) “Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”
Abraham obeyed the call of God in order to become something for other people. He did not leave his home to pursue a promise of wealth. God basically said, “I am going to use you to bless other people, and because of that, you must be blessed.” Prosperity was a requirement for Abraham’s call, it was not something he believed for, or pursued. We cannot find any scripture indicating that Abraham asked for money, or that he sowed any seed for money.
Abraham was already rich! Listen to what Dr. Lester Sumrall said about Abraham in his book, “Faith Can Change Your Word.” Speaking of Abraham:
“He would only say something like this: “I was living in a big beautiful home in a culturally advanced city. I held a place of prominence in the area. I had flocks and much pasture land around the city. The great Euphrates flowed down in front of us, and we had lots of water. We seemingly had all we needed. But God spoke to me and said, “Separate yourself from this people. Separate yourself from this sinful worshiping of idols and the devil.”
Archaeology has proven the vast wealth of Ur of the Chaldeans. It is not speculation that Abraham was wealthy. He left a house to live in a tent. He left a city to live in a pasture. Why? Because God said He was going to use him to bless all the families of the earth - other people.
(Hebrews 11:8–10 ESV) “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
Abraham refused to build another house, or to establish a city, because he was looking for the city that God built. Yet, he was very rich and could have done so.
(Genesis 13:2 ESV) “Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.”
Abraham was very rich, but wealth was not his pursuit or focus in life.
Let’s think for a moment about what Abraham’s “camp” looked like. When Lot was taken captive Abraham went to rescue him.
(Genesis 14:14 ESV) “When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”
Abraham took only the trained men, which means there were other men servants that were not trained. It is likely that the men were married. Let’s presume that each had at least one child. This could easily add up to around 1,500 people in the “camp.” That is a small city!
Here is more proof that Abraham’s “camp” was enormous and that he was wealthy.
(Genesis 13:5–6 ESV) “And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together,”
Tents, not houses. Although Abraham was very wealthy, he was not pursuing wealth, did not ask for wealth, and sowed no seed for wealth. Please understand, wealth was required for Abraham’s calling - so God blessed him with material things. However, it appears that Abraham did not care much about the wealth. Actually, all Abraham wanted was a son, and that is all he asked for. What Abraham did, he did for other people.
Moses and other people.
Moses was extremely wealthy, but he gave it all up for the sake of other people.
(Hebrews 11:24–27 ESV) “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.”
Moses made a decision to give up more wealth than Bill Gates can imagine. He could have “enjoyed the fleeting pleasures” like Paul warned Timothy that would be in our day. Imagine, a life of complete luxury and pleasure - every day.
But Moses had a different value system. He considered that being a part of bringing Christ into the world for other people was greater wealth.
Please notice that Moses was, “looking to the reward.” The reward he was looking toward was not in the earth, or of the earth. He wasn’t looking for his harvest somewhere around the promised land in the form of gold, silver and livestock. His spiritual eye was set squarely on God.
The Macedonian churches and other people.
Paul experienced an unusual thing when he was with the Macedonian churches. What happened there is what caused Paul to write this statement about Jesus, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” We would do well to understand what precipitated that statement.
The Macedonian churches had heard of the persecution of the saints in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the Christians were being thrown out of their houses and having their businesses confiscated by the Jewish authorities. The Macedonians were moved with compassion to help and Paul said this was “an act of grace.”
Paul was not receiving an offering, the Macedonians were insisting that Paul receive money from them to take to the Christians in Jerusalem. Yet, the Macedonians were in dire poverty. The Amplified Bible brings this out well.
(2 Corinthians 8:3–5 AMP) “For, as I can bear witness, [they gave] according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability; and [they did it] voluntarily, Begging us most insistently for the favor and the fellowship of contributing in this ministration for [the relief and support of] the saints [in Jerusalem]. Nor [was this gift of theirs merely the contribution] that we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us [as His agents] by the will of God [entirely disregarding their personal interests, they gave as much as they possibly could, having put themselves at our disposal to be directed by the will of God]—”
The Macedonians gave. They did not sow seed for their personal needs to be met, they completely disregarded their personal interests. They were not thinking about a harvest, they were thinking about other people. They became poor so that the Jerusalem Christians could have something.
Paul continues writing about this “giving” that the Macedonians did all the way through chapter nine, but people never look at it as one essay, even though it is. Paul continues to carry the thought of “other people” in this discourse.
(2 Corinthians 9:5–7 AMP) “That is why I thought it necessary to urge these brethren to go to you before I do and make arrangements in advance for this bountiful, promised gift of yours, so that it may be ready, not as an extortion [wrung out of you] but as a generous and willing gift. [Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].”
Paul is adamantly speaking about giving so that blessings may come to someone else. He uses the illustration of sowing and reaping to communicate what will happen when we give. He is not telling us to sow in order to reap.
Jesus used illustrations often because people refused to see the truth (Matthew 13:10-16). Jesus painted a picture with words in hopes of getting a spark of interest for the truth out of the people. Paul is doing the same here. Paul speaks of giving, then uses the illustration of sowing and reaping, and then immediately continues speaking about giving. The entire focus of Paul’s discourse in 2 Corinthians chapters eight and nine is giving to other people.
I believe God is looking for true givers whose hearts are in their giving. Many people do not reap on their “sowing” because they are not giving - and God knows the difference. God is unwilling to do without a giver. The scriptures says “whose heart is in his giving.” God knows what is in our hearts and He is looking to see if we are thinking of other people, or of ourselves.