Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Reciprocity of Sowing and Reaping

There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
(Proverbs 11:24-25)
How can one scatter and yet increase? How can another hold on tight to what he has, and still end up broke? It is the reciprocity of sowing and reaping, of seedtime and harvest: Sow a seed, reap a harvest. The one who is scattering in this verse is actually broadcasting seed.

Paul talked about this in his letter to the Corinthians: “He who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Seeds work only when you plant them. Hold them in your hand, or keep them in your pouch, and they will bring you no return. Sow a little, reap a little; sow a lot, reap a lot.

“The generous soul will be made rich.” Or as Paul said, sow bountifully, reap bountifully. He was speaking in a financial context, but the principle is applicable in every aspect of life. Jesus said,
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38)
Now, the principle works both ways, both positively and negatively. Give out judgment and condemnation, and you will get a boatload of it back. That is actually what Jesus is talking about here. But sow kindness and mercy, and that is what you will reap. Help others to prosper, and you will end up prospering also. Or as the proverb says, “He who waters will also be watered himself.” When you refresh others, you will also be refreshed. Paul tells us that “whatever a man sows, the he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Eugene Peterson translates these proverbs this way:
The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
Whatever you sow, that is what you will reap. Sow sparingly, reap sparingly. Sow bountifully, reap bountifully. The choice is yours.