A New Look At Sowing, Reaping,
Giving and Receiving:
"Giving" Is Not "Sowing" For You Personally
by Russ Gressett
The Holy Spirit asked me some questions one morning after an extended period in my life of worship, praying in the spirit, meditation in the Word and seeking the Lord regarding some specific areas in my walk with God. The beginning questions went something like this, "Son, how did you get to the place in your thinking and in your understanding that giving is the same as sowing? How did you come to think and believe that giving to your local church, or to some other ministry was a method of sowing for yourself personally? Forget about what everyone else thinks, says or teaches Ė how did YOU get to THAT place? Did you know that "giving" is not "sowing" for yourself personally?" WOW! The importance of that statement hit me all at once like a ton of bricks.
Have you ever had the Holy Ghost ask you "location" type questions like these? You know what I mean, those questions that arrest you to the fact that something is a bit off in your doctrine Ė that youíre missing it somewhere. Those questions that serve you notice that Heís about to re-arrange your theology. The questions themselves basically tell you that youíve been hoodwinked by the devil in an area, and that the Father is about to put His finger on that deception in your life and say loudly, "WAKE UP SON - YOUíVE BEEN HUSTLED Ė NOW SIT DOWN AND LETíS HAVE A LITTLE TALK!!" (Mark 12:38-44).
Well, I was in for one of those "talks" with God on this particular morning, and I thank God for it. What followed was an explosion of revelation Ė at least it was to me.
In this article, Iím going to share with you some of the revelations that came after those initial questions. A lot of what follows is slightly humorous at times, but all kidding aside, the real heart of this teaching is very, very serious stuff. It has great implications for the day and hour in which we live, and for the Kingdom tasks we still have in front of us. I pray it sets you free like it did me. Iíll also note here that scriptures in this article will mostly be put in parentheses and will rarely be typed out. If you want to know what the scripture says word for word, I suggest opening your bible and following along as we go.
Odds and Ends- Getting Started
If you are anything like me, you love it when the Holy Spirit shows up as Teacher. The sad part is, Heíll show up to teach us anytime we will let Him, we just donít let Him very often. Well, when the Holy Spirit asked me those first couple of questions that morning, I got real serious about spending some additional time with Him Ė one on one. Like many of you, Iím not a five fold minister, but there are times when we need to take a day off and spend it with God. Not you, your family and God Ė not you, your local church and God - just you and God. A full, solid day of you giving Him your full, uninterrupted, attention and focus. No phones, no TV, no computer, no nothing. Just you and God. How long has it been since you did that? Itís amazing what God can straighten out in our lives in a span of 8-10 hours of having our full attention.
Frequently, the Holy Spirit teaches me by asking me questions. Not audible questions Ė but questions that I can distinguish down in my heart with real clarity. He asks me questions to which He already has the answers. On occasions, heíll then give me a bullet point, simple answer that wraps it all up in a clear, concise, understandable package that lines up perfectly with the Word Ė and I just sit there and go, "WOW! - I love the Holy Ghost! How in the world could I have been thinking what I was thinking??" Sound familiar?
I was fortunate to have been raised on a farm. Itís amazing how much God uses that background in my life to teach me. Iím sure itís the same with you and your background in life. Well, as in many other instances, the Holy Spirit went back to my life growing up to relate much of this knowledge on the inside of me. He basically made me answer to myself why I believed what I believed Ė why I practice what I practice Ė why I say what I say Ė all as it relates to finances, provision, abundance, sowing, reaping, giving, receiving, etc.. It was the culmination of some things that had been stirring in my spirit for several years.
He made me stand back and listen to questions like, "Does the way you are currently operating in financial sowing and reaping make any sense? Is it working? Do you even care if itís working? What results are you getting? Is what you think the Word says should happen actually happening? If not Ė why not? Do you think its because youíre not holding your mouth just right? Or because you didnít cross every ĎTí and dot every ĎIí and Iím holding out on you as a result? Or is it because youíve not "sown" enough to "move" your faith or "move" My hand? Or maybe you think there is some magical date in the future when itís all going to come together in a moment of time when someone will knock on your door and say, ĎCongratulations, here is a 100 fold return on all your giving over and above your tithes for the last twenty years! Now go fund a world wide revival and enjoy!í. What in the world son? Are you just going to blindly go on for years and years and years in this man made system the way you are currently understanding it? Donít you think it is safe to say by now that something ainít right??? Do you know of any non five-fold ministry person that is walking in a consistent 30/60/100 fold return on what you call their "sowing"? How about even a ten fold return? Five? No, you donít know anyone like that. You just know a lot of people who are giving a dead, mechanical, 10, 20, 30% by formula, without any relationship with Me in their finances, getting "THEIR" needs met, and then crossing their fingers hoping that it all comes back X 100 TO THEM from somewhere out in the wild blue yonder. Son, donít you think after years and years at least someone would be able to step up to the plate and say, "Hey! This stuff is working for me! Iíve been walking in it consistently for 2 years now". Youíve got the "Ostrich Syndrome" son. WAKE UP!!"
You know, I kind of felt stupid after having all those questions put to me. I didnít know what to say. I didnít know what to do. Kind of like Kenneth Hagin Sr. said one time, "I felt like the Lord hit me a low blow". He nailed me goodĖ real good. Well, keep reading. It gets better.
What Sowing Is and Is Not
Webster says that sowing means to, "..plant a seed for growth by scattering, to begin an enterprise, to set in motion, to spread abroad, to introduce into a selected environment". So, if sowing means to plant a seed for growth in a selected environment, does that infer to you anything about the sower? Thatís a real good question to contemplate.
Letís take an example. If you are a peanut farmer (I grew up in peanut country), and you plant 100 acres of peanuts in your north pasture (the selected environment), where will you go to tend to that crop while it is maturing? The north pasture, right? Ok, having sown and tended that crop, where will you go to harvest that crop? The north pasture, right? Now, at harvest time, what will be the fruit that you harvest from that north pasture? Peanuts, right? Makes perfect sense. Itís straight forward. Itís not complicated. You sow, tend and harvest in the "selected environment." The north pasture. Simple.
Now letís change it up a bit. Letís say you "sow", or "seed plant" $10,000 into ____ Ministries, or into the ____ local church of which you are a member. If you sowed into that "selected environment", where should you reap from? That same "selected environment" right? Remember, we are just following the natural example outlined above Ė just like Jesus taught with natural examples and parables. So letís continue. If you sowed money into that "selected environment", what should you reap? Money, right? Ok, now letís say four to five months go by and itís harvest time. Glory! You go to that minister and say, "Minister So and So, howíd my crop do that I sowed into your ministry? Did it make 30, 60, or 100 fold? Can you go ahead and write me out a check?" Ha Ha. Most likely youíd get the left foot of fellowship right out the front door, huh? Do you see why giving is not sowing and sowing is not giving?
"But Russ, you are missing the point. You sow money into the church, but you reap money Ďout thereí somewhere Ė you believe it in! Bless God." Sorry. I donít buy that anymore. Sell that to someone else. I "give" to the church, and to ministries, as I purpose in my heart (2 Cor. 9:7-8), but Iíve ceased "sowing" into them. The return is not too good. "Well Russ, all youíre talking about is semantical differences. Itís just a play on words. Itís really the same thing." No! Itís not. The difference between sowing and giving is tremendous. Giving can take place after a harvest, and as a result of a harvest. Sowing takes place before a harvest, and actually enables a possible harvest. Those two are vastly different. Genesis 8:22 says that, "as long as the earth remains, seed time and harvest... will never cease". If you ascribe giving as sowing from which you are to reap a personal profit, then youíll never have much of a crop Ė unless you find some rich preacher to provide you with a 100 fold return which is highly unlikely. Now, Iím not saying that God wonít bless you in your giving. He will. But, it wonít be because of sowing and then reaping a profit for yourself personally. It will be God blessing you as an obedient Family member. If you are working a "give to get" formula though, you can forget it. Check your heart!
We have to get clear on this revelation of sowing and giving. You ministers out there, do you really think that people are going to get their needs met because they "sow" into the church or into a specific ministry? Thatís a slam on the cross (Phil. 4:19, 2 Cor. 8:9). Itís Godís will that we get our personal needs met based on the finished work of the cross Ė not based on our sowing or on our giving. Your ministry is Godís ministry, just like mine and just like everyone elseís. Godís true ministries are going to be funded because they are His ministries coming forth out of His family. God will move on the hearts of your Family brethren , who are in other areas of the Family business, to fund the work that Heís doing through your yielded vessel. Can you trust God to do that? Or, do you think it requires giving the people a "profit" motive to do it Ė or a "necessity" motive to do it? Listen, He will cause your brethren to prosper with Him in business, and in "sowing and reaping" for the Family (which may be their ministry). Then, they in turn can obey Him, purpose in their heart, and do that "giving" of the abundance (2 Cor 9:11) to exchange the money for souls (other family members) Ė which is Godís bottom line and primary concern. See, we are all in the same family. Itís not yours and his and mine and hers. Itís ours!! We have got to start seeing what the apostles were seeing and walking in in Acts 2:43-47. Weíre a family.
If you think of yourself as the average Christian out there, let me ask you a question. What does it mean to "let each man give as he purposes in his own heart" (2 Cor 9:7)? Did you catch the language in that scripture? Go back and read that whole passage in context about 20 times, and then pray in the spirit for about two hours. We are to purpose in our heart Ė not our head Ė not in someone elseís head Ė not even in someone elseís heart Ė but in our heart! See, our heart will witness to us from the Holy Spirit what to give, and the motivation will be love and joy and cheer. But, our head, in many cases, will witness to us what to give out of manís doctrine, and we will think it is a "necessity" to give. Thatís why the Holy Ghost, through Paul, distinguished it so clearly all in that one verse. Do you see that? Read it some more. Meditate on it. Do you have a "necessity to give" mentality? If you do, ask yourself why. Then, go back to the cross and see if that mentality lines up. Youíll find that it doesnít, and you may need to make an adjustment.
God wants you operating with Him financially in a living, breathing relationship Ė not in some dead formula where there is never any interaction or two way conversation. Iím talking about real communication that takes place all during the week, all the time, and not just two minutes before the plate comes down the isle! None of this, "Well, I think this is what God wants me to give. Minister so and so says they really need it and that they are good soil" stuff. Weíve got to grow up. God wants to be able to tap you on the shoulder and instruct you as a family member with specific financial tasks Ė most likely right after a Holy Spirit led financial harvest that He tapped you on the shoulder about as well. But, if He canít get through to you because you are operating some dead formula based on the law, then Heíll just pass you up and find someone He can actually talk to about such things. You say, "Really?". Yea, really!
Now, remember the question in the first paragraph of this section, "What does that infer about the sower?" Think back through all of this section, and answer that question for yourself. Assess yourself as a true sower for Godís family (not giver Ė but sower). Study and meditate on Isaiah 28:23-29 and 2 Cor. 8 & 9 for about a month Ė an hour or two a day. Then, make some changes as the Holy Spirit leads you. Initiate a real relationship with God in your finances, in your sowing, then your giving. Begin seeing yourself and God operating as a team in the financial and business arena Ė not separately as in "yours" and "His". Most Christians operate separately from God in their finances (even though they say itís all Godís), and they give "theirs" to "Him". Thatís a wrong relational understanding. That is where the way we teach tithing messes a lot of people up. Iím not against tithing Ė itís just that Iím for so much more than tithing. People are taught to tithe for all the wrong reasons. If you want to know the truth, weíve been bought with a price. Itís not 10% that is the Lordís in the new covenant Ė itís 100% (meditate on Hebrews Ch. 7 & 8 Ė dig deep into it).
Ask God to give you wisdom and revelation and understanding and enlightenment in these areas. Ask Him to show you where there is deception in your life in these areas. Ask Him to show you where the devil has placed, or is beginning to place, road blocks and hindrances in your life. Ask Him to avail you to teaching that will set you free in these areas, and to draw you to areas in His Word that will edify you along these lines. He will do it! You will be amazed at how your giving will increase once you get off of "formula" finances. Youíll be amazed at the "prospering" opportunities you begin seeing as well. All of a sudden, youíll begin seeing the reaping side of all this with the understanding that itís for the Kingdom! Amen.
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