III. We Reap A Multiplied Increase Of What We Sow
In this series on the Christian and Prosperity we have been seeing so far that it is very Biblical to pray for prosperity in each other’s lives whether physically, socially, financially, reproductively or any other area of life. Our theme verse (which I hope you memorize) is 3 John 2, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. In our first sermon we looked at seven characteristics of prosperity that honors God.
In our second sermon we started looking at the eight foundational laws of harvest in this passage. We saw that these laws are universal. They apply to evangelism, counseling, finances, courtship, fun, work and virtually everything in life. So far we have looked at law one – we reap only when there has been sowing and if that is the case, we need to determine what is the proper way of sowing. And we looked at ten essentials of godly sowing that apply to all of life. Last week we looked at law two – we reap the same kind that we sow.
Today we have come up to law three – we reap a multiplied increase of what we sow. Now this law by itself revolutionized Protestant Europe and took it out of Romanist economic stagnation. And it not only impacted economics, but it also revolutionized social theory and scientific optimism. We reap a multiplied increase of what we sow. It may seem like such a basic, unimportant law, yet it was an idea which gripped Protestants and had profound ramifications. And I just don’t think I am going to do justice to it today, but I am going to try. And I hope to give at least an introduction to some of those ramifications in today’s sermon. But first let me explain the principle that we reap a multiplied increase of what we sow.
III. We Reap A Multiplied Increase Of What We Sow
(v. 8 “corruption...everlasting life”; cf. Prov. 4:18; 22:8; Hos. 8:7; 2 Sam. 11; 2 Sam. 12:5-6 with Ex. 22:1; Lev. 26:18,21 [discipline gets worse and worse 1x7x7x7x7]; Luke 6:38; Matt. 19:29; Eph. 3:20; 2 Cor. 9:6; Prov. 19:17; 1 Tim. 6:17-19)
General Illustration of this principle
That’s shown in the eternal ramifications of verse 8, but it is also obvious just from the illustration of sowing and reaping itself. If all that a farmer got when he put one kernal of corn into the ground in spring was one kernal of corn at harvest time, he wouldn’t be very motivated to plant corn. He wouldn’t bother. When there is a constant risk to a farmer of losing everything that he plants to locusts, drought, fire and other disasters, he has to know that there is a fairly substantial potential for reward to offset the risk. This is something that Thomas Aquinas and countless theologians since him have failed to realize when it comes to economics, and we will look at that in a moment.
But Scripture illustrates this principle in the realm of physical farming over and over again. A farmer anticipates by faith that God will prosper what he plants with a multiplied increase. Let me give you a mundane example: Genesis 26:12 says, “Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him.” We see in that verse that farming is not simply a mechanistic affair. God is the one who stands behind the law, and He is the one who blesses or fails to bless. And in this case Isaac got a 100 to one return ratio, which is phenomenal and more than paid for his laborers and his time invested. And that kind of ratio is not uncommon. Christ speaks of seed that “fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4:20)
Now – the potential return for some seeds is even greater. If you were to cut an apple in two, you would see numerous seeds inside. Each seed has the potential for growing a tree, and how many apples can a tree produce year after year after year without any more sowing? Well, it’s far more than a hundred-fold. As the old proverb goes, “You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed.” You’ve probably heard that. This is just part of the pattern that God has built into nature. It multiplies. In Genesis 1 you keep finding the repeated phrase, “be fruitful and multiply.” Addition is one kind of increase, but multiplication is a powerful compounding increase over time. But whether by way of addition or multiplication over time, God has built into life this law that you reap a multiplied increase of what is sown.
And of course we can hear objections. What about times when there is a disaster that wipes out the crop? Is that an exception to the law? And I would say, “No.” Nature has a way of correcting itself. Even Mount Saint Helens volcano which did far more damage than a forest fire because it literally soured the earth, is reforresting and cannot hold back the laws of harvest. The market place has a way of correcting itself. The Great Depression and stock market crashes since then have set many people back, but the law of increase for what is invested has never been done away with.
Now I should give a warning that these eight laws need to be taken together as a whole. Look at verse 9: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. And there’s plenty of other if’s in these eight laws.
In In spiritual realm
But it is universal. It applies to literal seeds, and it applies to social sins. For example, Hos. 8:7 says, “They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind.” They are reaping more than what was sown. Proverbs three times speaks of sowing discord among the brethren by way of gossip and slander. And you might think it is a one time thing that won’t affect much. No, it is a dandelion seed that when planted will grow more and more dandelions until you don’t have any lawn left. And Proverbs tells us that if it is not plucked up and stopped right away it will increase and increase until the body is torn apart. Hebrews talks about a little seed of bitterness creeping into one person’s life and warns us to watch out “lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Heb. 12:15). It starts with a little seed of bitterness in one person’s heart, and when it is not rooted out, that person becomes defiled and eventually many become defiled. There is always a multiplied increase.
But it is true of the positive as well. Paul said, Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. God’s grace multiplies in our lives, unless – unless, we pluck it up and fall short of that grace. This is true of any seed that God sows in your lives, or seed that is sown by me into your lives, by your parents or by you into each other’s lives. If you can once grasp how invariable this principle is, it will settle a lot of theological and practical questions. It will give tremendous encouragement and impetus into what you do. God stands behind this law. He is not mocked. And believe me, there are many people who ignore Galatians 6:7 and are deceived about this law and who seek to mock God by ignoring this law. I see it in counseling all the time. I see this law ignored in political discussions in North Omaha. Marxist theory seeks to mock this law. Antinomianism seeks to mock this law. But it stands long after mockers die and mould in the ground. This is a universal law. It doesn’t just apply to our personal righteousness that we looked at. It applies to everything.
Applied to economics
Let’s take economics as one example. There are many who make money, labor and economic theory an exception to this general principle. Aristotle for example taught that money was sterile, unproductive and that it was therefore immoral to charge interest. That’s also been the official teaching of the Roman Catholic church since Thomas Aquinas. Actually you see strains of it earlier, but he systematized it. If something is sterile it can’t multiply, right? And if money can’t multiply then it is immoral to expect interest on money. You might think this is unimportant thing. “Get on to the important stuff pastor.” But this is important. False teaching on this economic subject is ravaging American churches. This was a theory that brought utter economic stagnation to Europe. Calvin freed the church from such thinking, and we need to know it. We need to understand it. Now interestingly, in the Protestant Church today there are some who want to take the church back to that Romanist thinking. People like Mooney, Hoskins and Lockman have so thoroughly bought into Aristotle’s and Thomas Aquinas’ theory that money and property is sterile that they argue (and I think they argue argue rather consistently) that charging rent on an apartment is ungodly. They say that it should just be lent to someone for no return. They say this because they realize that Biblically rent and interest are equivalent in passages like Leviticus 25. Interest is simply rent paid on money that is lent out.
I want to demonstrate that this third law of harvest applies to money. But let me first of all quote the essence of Mooney’s objection. He says, “If there is only $10 in existence, and you lend it to someone under condition that he repay $11, and if he agrees to this, he has agreed to the impossible.” Can you see his logic there? He has bought into the theory of Aristotle and Aquinas that money is sterile, and if that is true, then his logic is impeccable. All interest would be ruled out, and so would all growth in the economy. Let me read his statement again. He says, “If there is only $10 in existence, and you lend it to someone under condition that he repay $11, and if he agrees to this, he has agreed to the impossible.” But both Scripture and experience challenges the idea that money supply is static.
First of all, there are many forms of money. Even cigarrettes served the function of money in World War II. But here is a good definition of money: “Money [is any form of goods or property that] performs [the following three] three functions: 1) it is a store of value (able to keep its purchasing power over a long period of time), 2) it is a medium of exchange ([or] a commodity that makes complex trading possible), 3) it is a unit of account ([such as a] dollar, frank, ounce of gold, lbs of tobacco, etc.) (ELHT)” Well, there is no logical way of saying that any of the many forms of money cannot increase. You can dig more gold, grow more tobbacco, print more money. You see, the value of something is subjective, not objective. And as long as people continue to impute value to the money America prints, it can serve as money. Godliness or ungodliness aside. Well Scripture indicates that as dominion increases, the demand for money increases, and because money is simply a store of value of that dominion, money itself will reflect this law of dominion.
Thomistic thinkers object that the Bible condemns all interest, and therefore by definition rules out the growth of money. They of course are opposed to fiat money just like I am. But they will cite passages which forbid interest. But they take them out of context. I don’t want to bore you all with the details, but let me at least put a chart up here which summarizes a sampling of Scriptures relative to interest. And so that note takers don’t have to write things down madly, I have made a few extra copies of this chart that you are welcome to have.
|Condemns Interest to the Poor||Condemns Interest to Unspecified||Interest Loan as Curse||Interest Loan as Blessing||Allows Interest to Foreigner||Allows Interest to Israelite|
|Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35-37; Neh. 5:1-10; Prov. 19:17; 22:8; Ezek. 18:7-8,12-13,17; Luke 6:33-35||Deut. 15:1-8; 23:19-20; Ps. 15:5; Jer. 15:10; Ezek. 22:12-13; Hab. 2:6-8||Deut. 28:44; 1 Sam. 22:2; 2 King 4:1-3; 4:7; Neh. 5:1-10; Ps. 109:11; Prov. 22:7,26-27; 28:8; Is. 50:1; Ezek. 18; 22:12; Hab. 2:6-8; Rom. 13:8||Lev. 25; Deut. 15:6; 28:12,44; Matt. 25; Luke 19||Deut. 15:3; 23:20; Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 16:1-12 (?); 19:11-27; James 4:13-17||Lev. 25:15-16,23-34,39-55; Ex. 22:5-9; Lev. 5:1-19; 6:1-7; Numb. 5:8; Deut. 19:16-19; Luke 19:1-10|
The first two columns are the passages which are often cited by Mooney and others, and they are important passages. Don’t get me wrong. Interest is condemned on loans to the truly poor precisely because God wants to multiply the number of people who can take dominion.
So there are some passages on this list which condemn or at least say that debt and interest is not an advisable position. But the fourth through sixth columns speaks of loans with interest being a blessing to both lender and borrower. Those are totally different situations such as business loans. Christ said “if you have not been faithful in the money of the unrighteous, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11). In the same chapter Christ spoke approvingly of the man who said, “‘Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ Christ did the same in the parable in Matthew 25:27 saying, “You ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.” (Matt 25:27). Leviticus 25 devotes a great deal of space to limiting the number of years a loan could be taken, but not limiting the interest rate. Gaining interest on money is simply good stewardship, and restitution in Scripture always took into account a minimum of the lost interest that could have been made with the money or rental property. And Lev. 6:5 would be one example.
Generally speaking those who believed that money is an exception to this third law of harvest were the Roman Catholic countries, while those who applied this third law of harvest to every area of life were the Protestant, and especially the Reformed countries like America and Switzerland. And I think the results speak for themselves. This is a revolutionary concept economically, and it stands at the foundation of Calvin’s Free Market Economics. Calvin swept aside the paganism of Aristltle’s sterile money theory. Professor C. Greg Singer says, “The influence of Calvin on economic theory and practice has been hardly less extensive than that which he exercised on the political order…” (p. 45) The bottom line is that a static view of money leads to a static economy, and that is why Roman Catholic countries have never prospered economically and why Reformed countries or even secular countries that have borrowed Reformed economic principles have prospered amazingly. You’ve got to realize that the laws of harvest work universally. That’s why even pagan Japan took off when it forsook its economics of Shintoism after World War II and adopted America’s economic system. In recent years it has begun to be more centraliist and socialistic just like America, but when the laws of harvest are followed in any country economically, there will be prosperity.
Some of you might be wondering why I apply these laws more to economics than to so-called spiritual principles in the family and the individual. The reason is three-fold. First, because nobody else teaches on it. Second, because it’s in the bible. And third, because economics is spiritual. It is either demonic or Christian. It is either in revolt to God’s laws or in submission to His laws. That’s one of the reasons why I am thrilled with John Robbins work on economics. He is axiomatically deriving everything from the bible. And we are faithless to Christ if we do not take every area of life into submission to His law word. Now this series is designed to introduce you to general concepts, and I hope you will be intrigued enough to start reading. And I can give you reading suggestions to follow up. But if we want to prosper in all that we do, we need to begin reading how the bible applies to all of life.
I’ll deal with some of the practical issues of economics as we apply this law to the individual once again later on.
Applied to eschatolotgy
But let’s move on and start applying this law to some other areas of life. Eschatology is a classic place where this law can be seen. Eschatology is simply the doctrine of the future – what we can anticipate Biblically to be in our future. Now Christ’s first coming was eschatology for Daniel. The Babylonian exile was eschatology for Jeremiah, because it was in his future. Now the future for everyone in any period of history is a multiplied increase of something. History can never stand still. It will either be progressing in righteousness or progressing in evil. All that means is that our eschatology is governed by this law, and really all of the eight laws in our passage. Christ said He who is not for me is against me. We will be seeing that a culture either moves forward or it moves backward. Now, if (as was the case in certain Old Testament periods, and in the period leading up to 70 AD) God withdrew his grace from a culture, things always got worse and worse. That’s what 2Tim. 3:13 is saying about the years leading up to 70 AD. That evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But if God’s purpose is to prosper the seed planted by the church in culture, things will always get better and better. And only the Scripture can tell us what our eschatology is. We plant seed, and God gives the increase. But the exciting thing about God’s promises for the future of the church is that this third law of harvest is destined to cause His kingdom to grow non-stop. Isaiah 9 says of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end. And the verse goes on to say that the zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. God will guarantee that there will always be workers sowing into the world – going into missions; witnessing. Why can we assume that? Because of the laws of harvest we have already looked at. How can they believe unless there is a preacher. There has got to be the word brought into every area of culture. Eschatology does not operate in a vacuum. It operates as people like you and I plant the seed everywhere we go.
We ought not to grow weary in doing good because Christ is prophesied to never grow discouraged until the earth is converted. Isaiah 42 says about Christ, He shall bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law. So Christ is practicing Galatians 6:9 because He knows there is a guaranteed harvest of souls. If Christ does not get discouraged, then neither should we. We have His promise that He will not give up until justice is established in the whole earth. Romans 5:15 says, For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. Romans 5:20 says, But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. In both of those passages there was a time when sin abounded and increased, and they both say that God’s grace has caused righteousness to abound much more at the expense of sin. Now all of that assumes there is planting, persevering and watering.
Prov. 4:18 says, But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
The Old Testament says that iniquity is reaped even to the third and fourth generation (now that’s a multiplied increase of sin), but it goes on to say that God’s mercy is shown to those who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations. This is what Paul was talking about when he said that grace abounded much more than sin did. Certainly sin grows like dandelions, but God has promised even greater growth for His kindgom righteousness, and that ought to get us enthusiastic about planting righteousness in our children and in our society. We are destined for victory if we will only try. There is no reason to grow discouraged when we look at the spiritual landscape in America and see almost nothing but weeds. We just faithfully pluck up weeds as we are able and plant seeds of righteousness knowing that in the future we will reap far more than we have planted. But if we get discouraged and hole up in our church, we can’t expect to get any increase. There must be sowing.
The images of growth in the kingdom are all throughout the Scriptures. Christ likens His kingdom to planting, growth and harvest, to leaven that eventually leavens the whole lump, to a mustard seed that grows into a huge plant.
In Daniel, the kingdom of God, represented by the small stone cut without hands, grows into a huge mountain and finally fills the entire earth displacing the humanistic kingdoms. In Ezekiel, the grace flowing from the altar is a tiny trickle at first, but as Ezekiel walks along the river it gets deeper and deeper until finally nothing can cross it and it brings healing to the entire earth. That is the principle of harvest. The book of Acts keeps talking about the church multiplying. Until we enter into eternal life, the kingdom will keep growing and growing as we are faithful in sowing the seed.
Applied to evangelism and changing society
Society can never be static
Christ increases His Kingdom
Well, if that’s true, then it ought to apply to our evangelism methods and to our long term strategies at changing society. We are not just going to focus on winning one election, with whatever methods that might take. No - we will be laying the groundwork for a long term victory. I think far more important than winning anything at this next election is starting a chapter of the National Reform Association and beginning to plant consistently teaching into this community. I don’t have time to get into it, but the social theory of the Calvinists of the Reformation was radically informed by this third law of harvest.
So let’s just briefly apply this to evangelism methods and changing society. I think the church is far more attracted to addition than to multiplication. People are enamored with evangelists who can add thousands to the kingdom at a time. But you can’t apply all eight laws of harvest to evangelistic crusades. It is discipleship that incorporates all eight. Dr. Robert Coleman in his book on discipleship shows that discipleship has the potential of winning the world if God were to prosper the increase. And of course, that’s in His hands, right? We sow, water and harvest, but only God can give the increase. But Dr. Coleman showed how if the world is to be won, it will be by discipleship, not by mass crusades alone. Christ spent most of his ministry pouring his life and these eight principles of harvest into twelve people. Mass evangelism was not His primary method. In fact, His speeches to the crowds did not gain a large following. He based his entire commission to disciple the world on twelve apostles. And it was as the apostles discipled others, who in turn discipled others that multiplication began to take off.
Let me just ask this question. Which would you be more excited over: an evangelist who was so blessed by God that he was used by God to convert 1 million people to Christ through his crusades every year, or a man who was so blessed by God that he discipled three people a year so effectively that they in turn discipled three people a year just as effectively. People might get discouraged with the discipleship method because at the end of five years of hard labor, only 243 people would have been won to the Lord and discipled, whereas the mass evangelist would have won five million to the Lord. But compounding growth takes time. By the end of ten years the discipleship method that Christ advocated would have grown to 59,049 and the mass evangelist would still be in the limelight with 10 million. By the end of the fifteenth year the discipleship method would have almost caught up with mass evangelism method with a total of 14 million 349 thousand disciples. But from there on the increase would take off. By year twenty the discipleship method would still be having one person disciple three people per year, but it would have reached 3 billion, 486 million, 784 thousand whereas the mass evangelist would have won a total of 20 million. The next year would increase to 10 and a half billion, and in just a few years, if God blessed, the entire world would be converted. And they wouldn’t be babies. They would be discipled. We short circuit God’s methods by looking to the present and neglecting the future. We don’t like the laws of harvest because we are impatient. That’s why he has to warn us in Galatians 6 – let’s not grow weary, let’s not lose heart; let’s not give up.
Now we don’t know in the next few years if God will bless our discipleship efforts 10fold, 30fold, fifty fold or 100 fold. I just made my calculations based on threefold. God does promise a time in history when righteousness will fill the earth as the waters cover the ocean beds. With the laws of harvest that is not hard to imagine a converted world even within our life time. What counts is that we take Paul’s admonition seriously And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. God always makes the harvest greater than what was sown.
I think that is why Galatians 6:10 says, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Notice that he doesn’t just have us sowing righteousness in the lives of believers. He wants us to especially do that. But he wants us to sow righteousness in all men. Why? There is the expectation that it will make a difference in the world. He wants us sowing into the world. And God does not waste grain. His expectation is that the nations will be discipled and the Great Commission will not be a failure. Can you see how the third law of harvest applies?
Applied to our families
Let’s apply this law of harvest to our families. You have been investing huge amounts of money, time and energy into your families. You need to have faith that what you have sown will bear fruit, and that it will bear a multiplied increase in their lives.
Now if you are insecure, this could be intimidating because it means that your children have the potential for going way beyond anything that you were able to achieve. I’ve seen parents intimidated. They feel insulted when their children do something different, or do something better than they did. But that should be our desire. It should delight our hearts if our children get educated in things we never had the opportunity to learn, or if our children have experiences we did not, or if they are able to start their married life with a house when you did not. We should be delighted if our children are able to stand on our shoulders and see further than we were able to see, and avoid the mistakes that we made and take greater dominion than we could. I think it is beautiful that RC Sproul senior admitted in print that his son has been far more consistent theologically, and far more faithful to press the antithesis than he has done. And RC was happy for his son. It ought not to intimidate us. It ought to delight us. I don’t want my children repeating what I did. I want to aid and train them in such a way that they can avoid the lousy mistakes I made, and see through the theological blunders that maybe I am still making. There should always be advance from generation to generation if we are doing things right.
Now here’s some suggestions relative to the third law of harvest. And the first one is so obvious that we might miss it. The Dominion mandate commands us to be fruitful and multiply. God desires that we increase the impact that we can have by having lots of babies – not more than we can train and equip. But it is still wonderful when we can outnumber the Egyptians. And if we are not planting the seed, it will never happen. I think birth control has been used by some in America, not as a stewardship tool for spacing children and ensuring we don’t have more than we can train, but for selfishly seeing children as a burden. I’m not saying any of you have done that. But I’m saying, let’s make sure that we see children as a wonderful gift for dominion that we are preparing to shoot as arrows toward their mark in the world.
You know, it wasn’t just in Egypt that the Israelites were blessed to outnumber the Egyptians. When they went into the land of Canaan, God wanted the Israelites to outnumber the Canaanites. He says in Exodus 23:30, Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. I don’t think this call to be fruitful and multiply has ever been revoked. In the New Testament Paul even told widows, Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. If you have looked at the statistics of birth dirth among pagans and multiplication among Christians, we are gaining on them. And if Christians would double the size of their families, it is incredible the difference that could be made in three generations. Now I do believe in a modified form of birth control for the protection of the mother and limiting the size of the family to what we can properly raise. But it needs to be stewardship of children, not elimination of children.
But this assumes that we have trained our children as well. We must sow seed of education into their lives. Psalm 78 commands us to explain the difficult passages of the Old Testament and to commit ourselves to the following: We will not hide them [that’s the difficult passages – “We will not hide them”] from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and may not be like their fathers… That is sowing seed multigenerationally and seeing the effects of it increase from generation to generation. Do you have a long term vision for your education or are you just seeking to get by with the minimum?
To the best of our ability we need to resource our children in other tangible ways to enable them to get started at a level that is beyond where we got started at that age. This may mean economically. Proverbs 13:22 says, A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.. Do you have a savings program. The Lord can only multiply and increase what is sown? Are you saving up for car replacement? For education? For emergency? For children? For future dominion? Even if it is a widow’s mite, try to do something. Proverbs 19:14 says, Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers. There is nothing wrong with providing a house for our children if we can afford it. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to afford it. If we can’t, that’s fine too. But the attitude that “Hey! I had it hard when I started and therefore my children need to have it just as hard” is not Biblical. Forget about comparing. We need to think through what would be the best way that we can enable our children to contend with their enemies in the gates. What is the best way they can take dominion. If our child is foolish, it may mean that we don’t let them inherit too much right away. Proverbs 20:21 warns us, An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning Will not be blessed at the end. Solomon also said, Wisdom is good with an inheritance, And profitable… So inheritances aren’t automatic. Sometimes people need to be given less simply because you know they will have a poor stewardship. Some children need to be cut out of the will. But the general Biblical principle is given in 2 Corinthians 12:14 where Paul says, the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. Are you laying up for your children? If we want there to be a multiplied increase of what we put into our children’s lives we need to start thinking about it and planning for it when we are young.
Applied to individual life
But let me end by making three applications in our individual lives: sin, righteousness, and since this series is on the Christian and prosperity, in our person finances. I have already indicated a couple of ways in which the seeds of sin that we plant always increase into something worse if they are not plucked up by the roots right away. We saw that bitterness get’s worse and worse and eventually corrupts others. We saw three proverbs which state that those who sow discord among the brethren find a horrible harvest coming to light. But let me just quote the simple words of Jesus in John 5:14. It says, Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” That would be discipline for sin. Leviticus talks about God punishing, then punishing harder, then punishing seven times harder, then punishing seven times harder yet. It’s a multiplied increase in discipline.
Likewise, just as societies either get better or get worse, individuals either are influenced toward good or get worse. It is impossible for living things to stay static. Built into life is the law that you reap more than you sow. 1 Corinthians 11:17 says we either eat the Lord’s Table for the better or for the worse. There is no in between because the third law of harvest is a universal law.
But secondly, sowing righteousness leads to more righteousness. And this can be encouraging to the believer who is struggling against sin and is valiantly sowing seeds of righteousness. Eventually his weeding of the garden and planting of good seed will pay off. And over time it becomes easier and easier to weed and easier and easier to do righteousness. Paul said, where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. 2 Corinthians 3 18 says that the believer who pursues the Lord will find himself being transformed from glory to glory. There’s an increase. Psalm 84 describes those who live by the grace of God saying, They go from strength to strength. This doesn’t happen automatically. We must be sowing to the Spirit. Paul’s prayer for the Phillipians was that they would continue to persevere that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. In Colossians 1 Paul talked about the importance of what they planted in their lives that they might be fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. It does get easier. Even understanding sermons and books. I remember the first theology book that I read was way over my head. Well, I hung in there and persevered, and when I read it just a couple of years later, I found it to be a piece of cake. Without noticing it, I had been increasing in the knowledge of God’s Word. Ephesians 3:20 says, Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us... Colossians 2:19 talks about the nourishment of the church increasing with the increase of God. If we are consistent with these eight laws we will grow in our sanctification, we will grow in knowledge, we will grow in every area of our Christian endeavor because God stands behind these laws.
Applied to money and giving
I’ve had to cut out lots of Scriptrues. But let me end by applying this to the money that we invest in God’s kingdom. This principle guarantees that it is impossible to outgive God in time and in eternity. Remember that Mark 10 promises a 100 fold return in this time and even more in eternity. Now that’s encouraging. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. When Amaziah was struggling with whether to give up some money that God was claiming for himself, the prophet told him, The LORD is able to give you much more than this. (2 Chron. 25:9). Don’t worry about what you give up. There can be no sacrifice that God calls you to do that He will not reward you with far more. Job 42:12 tells us, Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. And then it mentions the added children that he had.
I won’t repeat all of the Scriptures that I gave concerning investing money under the first law of harvest, but it does apply to our consistent, deliberate investment of money. It applies to our tithes. In Haggai the people are puzzled as to why they were not prospering financially. The prophet tells them to tithe. They say they cannot tithe until God gives them more money because everything is failing. Haggai tells them the reason they aren’t prospering is that they have withheld their tithe. If you are not getting enough money it may be because you haven’t been giving enough money to God. Malachi puts this law of harvest inot stark relief with what was happening in Israel. HE says,
Mal. 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
Mal. 3:9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.
Mal. 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse [notice He didn’t say that we can pick and choose where to put our tithe. Giving above and beyond the tithe yes, but he says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse”], That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. [There’s the multiplied increase. He goes on.]
Mal. 3:11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the LORD of hosts;
Mal. 3:12 “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the LORD of hosts.
And what is true of tithing is true of gifts above and beyond the tithe and the alms that we give to those in need. Luke 6:38 says, “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.”
Let me end with one more Scripture on stewardship that illustrates this law. Prov. 11:24 says, There is one who scatters, yet increases more; [He is talking about a person who gives his money freely and yet finds that he keeps increasing. “There is one who scatters, yet increases more;] And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.
I pray that as you examine all areas of your life in light of these stewardship principles, it will give you great delight to know that what we invest into God’s kingdom, what we sow into all of the fields for which we are responsible, God will bring a multiplied increase back to us. Amen.