Biblical Steps to Financial Freedom
by Eric Gondwe
This entire area on financial and material rewards is adapted from the book titled: Seed Time & Harvest Time (and God’s Mercy) by Eric Gondwe. Every part of it is related to deliverance from financial bondage, breaking the curse of poverty and steps to financial freedom.
- Same Principles, Different Limits
- Obedience is the Key
- God’s Ways or Ours?
- Still Under Manna or in Canaan?
- Financial Curse (Wilderness) -A Father’s Discipline
- Breaking the Curse of Poverty Through Obedience
- How God Opens the Floodgates of Heaven
- How God Prevents Satan from Destroying the Blessing
- The Bottom Line
- Same Harvest, Different Taste of Harvested Material Fruits
- Where to sow
- How to Start
Christianity is burdensome when one does not understand the ways of God. It is difficult to accept or obey what we cannot understand. One of the most practical examples is the monetary side of our required obedience. This is in the area of monetary contributions, offerings and charitable giving.
Financial lack is still among the worst areas of affliction among believers, though for non-believers as well. Some are in huge debts. Others are lacking basic resources in their lives and Christian living. And so on. As believers God has given us biblical principles that relate to our material well-being. We can at least overcome areas within our sphere of responsibility. Applying God’s principles may not bring all we desire but it can eliminate avoidable and needless distress.
Same Principles, Different Limits
A text in Malachi that talks about tithing and offerings is a key reference to how God works through our financial obedience or disobedience. It’s important to note that tithing, that is, giving ten percent of our income, is not required in the New Testament era we’re in. We are freed, through Christ, from religious rituals of the Mosaic Law.
If tithing is still a requirement then we need to resurrect the whole Old Testament law. And all of us who go to church on Sunday would have no place in heaven until we returned to Seventh Day worship. Violation of this law is more eternally serious than violating requirements on tithes and offerings. So let no one deceive you that giving ten percent of our income is still our required minimum limit. Neither let them deceive you that a traditional church is the only accepted avenue for giving in the body of Christ.
However, the principles under tithing and offering requirements still apply in our day. So the text in Malachi still speaks to us today. The financial requirements in the New Testament era actually demand more than the old ten percent (tithe) minimum limit. We’re required to deny ourselves and to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Making ourselves as offerings to God is giving everything we have for his interests.
The early church in the book of Acts is a good example though not necessarily to be applied the same way they did. They sold their belongings and gave the funds to the apostles as stewards for all believers. Please don’t try this even if you hear a voice claiming to be from God. Continue you good deeds with bible based financial principles that are not based on emotions or strange voices. And let no ministry manipulate you by claiming to bring special rewards from heaven when you give to them. The bible talks about believers’ motives for giving while saying nothing on which ministry is more acceptable than another on financial matters.
We’re requested to be rich in good deeds, which is a way of storing up our treasure (wealth) in heaven. Our security is meant to be in what we’re saving up in heaven through good deeds rather than in how much our savings or earthly investments are worth (Matthew 6:19-21). It’s a complete opposite paradigm or standard from the secular approach. How much is required to be stored up in heaven is therefore as much as we can possibly manage. No percentage limits.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life,” 1 Timothy 6:17-19.
Obedience is the Key
Like in the old covenant era God brings whatever results based on our financial obedience or disobedience. He said to those who desired financial deliverance and freedom: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruits, says the Lord Almighty,” (Malachi 3:10-11).
So this is God’s way of providing material necessities. It is through giving. A tithe (ten percent) of ones income was the minimum in the Old Testament. Something is a gift when the giver requires nothing in return. It maybe financial, material, service of one’s talents and time, counsel and so on. It’s something that will contribute to the well-being of someone or group at the expense of the giver’s input.
Through the gifts, God says he is moved to “throw open the floodgates of heaven” to bless the giver. It may not be instant or come in a way the giver may assume. However God works everything out in his way and timing to bless the giver.
Not only does he open doors for his blessings he also prevents the enemy from undoing our blessings. You probably know people who received much only to loose it all in mysterious ways, to suffer crippling health problems or other misfortune. God works to prevent such experiences for as long as we continue obeying his word. On the highest level we’re requested to “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well,” (Matthew 6:33). It means putting his ways of righteous living, evangelism interests and charitable interests ahead of our personal earthly interests. They need to matter to us more than our interests and needs. All the things we need for our earthly living are given to us as we pursue his interests.
God’s Ways or Ours?
God has given his ways to open the floodgates of heaven. But some may decide to look for their own ways they consider more convenient. All sorts of “justifiable” excuses may come up. The most common are, “I don’t have enough to give anyone,” “I’ve so many critical obligations that giving would not be practical,” “I’ve not yet started earning my own income.” Thus we devise other ways to receive from God. We hold long prayers, sometimes accompanied with fasting. Some who misunderstand spiritual warfare resort to binding and rebuking demons from holding their material blessings.
At the end of the day nothing moves. We may even begin to question ourselves: “May be God wants us to remain in lack?” After all, the bible strongly warns against the love of money. So living day to day on subsistence provisions by the grace of God could be his will for our lives. All this is not true. We are only applying the wrong principles for the wrong purposes. We still end up walking in financial disobedience and harvesting fruits of financial disobedience.
Our Lord waits for us to apply what he has prescribed for us. Until we respond according to his word he continues to wait. Resorting to sinful ways and other worldly ways may work but only to bring in other worse problems in the long-run. On another note, a believer may have other issues outside giving that may be contributing to financial woes. All these are hindrances to what God has promised through his word.
Still Under Manna or in Canaan?
God fed the Israelites manna during their 40 years in the wilderness. Manna was enough for the day and no more for the next. Any attempt to lay aside some for a succeeding day failed, except the day immediately preceding the Sabbath. Attempts of preservation only led to the manner to rot.
After 40 years the disobedient generation of military age had all gone except Joshua and Caleb who had obeyed God. Then God asked Joshua to circumcise the sons of the disobedient generation. After he obeyed this and observed the Passover God opened the door for them to eat their own produce in Canaan. The manna stopped (Joshua 5) and the Israelites were no longer bound to daily rations.
Their reproach, which was a sign of bondage, was rolled away when the new generation matured and it fulfilled its obedience through Joshua. “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you,” Joshua 5:9. Their reproach was not rolled away when they crossed the sea with Moses. It was after more than 40 years when they qualified to inherit their promised blessing. All along they were still in some form of bondage like in Egypt. It was a material bondage. No wonder they complained so much that some even asked to return to Egypt where they had no freedom.
This could be the case for some believers in their material lives. Spiritually they are no longer in bondage. Materially things have not changed or have worsened. Some even consider returning to sinful ways of gaining material means. They consider sacrificing their spiritual freedom for material gain. They have prayed and begged God for years but little if anything has changed.
Yet God is saying some are in a financial wilderness of their own making because of disobedience to his financial principles. Prayer and begging is not a requirement in this area of our Christian lives. According to his word there is a better way out than resorting to sinful or spiritually compromising ways. His ways may take longer than the sinful ways but are more than worthwhile in the long run.
So some may be living in a financial wilderness of their own making because of disobedience. There are only two wildernesses in life – one is God-made while the other is man-made. Jesus entered a God-made wilderness when he was led to be tempted by the devil. His wilderness was a general trial of faith and not a financial one. Our God-made financial wilderness is mostly during the years of our upbringing. We receive manna we never worked for. The manna is just enough to get by and scarce enough to continue looking forward to our own means.
During this period, God wants us among other things to learn obedience and submission to higher authority. It is also training ground for our submission to God and his ways. During God’s ordained wilderness our parents and guardians not only have heaven’s commission to care for us, they also have the means to exercise their authority.
No wilderness is exciting. As we grow older we desire more to be free from the financial wilderness of being on the receiving end. For some the mere thought of others sacrificing their lives for them is tormenting. They look forward to freeing their parents or guardians from their burden of looking after them. For others the manna itself becomes increasingly unbearable. And so on. A God-made financial wilderness is at least one we’re not to regret. We found ourselves under particular parents or guardians of certain means and other characteristics. It was God’s own design. It’s a self-made one that is a problem.
Financial Curse (Wilderness) -A Father’s Discipline
The wilderness that we can somehow live to regret for having gone through is the self-made one. It comes as a result of disobedience to God. Here an individual has the power of choice but misuses it by ignoring God’s principles. In the God-made one there is nothing we can do except endure it. In the self-made one there is everything we can do to get out of it. It’s presence is a sign that there is something God requires of us that we’re not fulfilling.
When the Israelites disobeyed God they paid the penalty by being caged into a wilderness for forty years. They received manna just to keep them alive while paying for their sin. The same happens to us when we disobey his principles. He leaves us to survive on manna that is just enough to get by and scarce enough to continue looking forward to being free from such mere survival.
It may seem like God is a strict disciplinarian waiting to punish every disobedience. However scripture and history show that his hand of mercy is more prevalent than his hand of justice. His greatest act of mercy was having his Son, Jesus, die for our sins. We would be paying for every sin if it wasn’t for Christ. For most of us who have not been perfect this would be serious bondage, worse than slavery.
But to say God is no disciplinarian would be a big lie. Try getting into certain sins, especially the sexual sins and you’ll be sorry for it. Repentance is the ultimate rescue but may not stop all the sinful harvest. He will also eventually work it to your good but the process of getting to obtain that good can be painful. God does discipline us, out of love, not out of his wrath when we stray. “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son,” Hebrews 12:6.
So God disciplines us when we disobey his biblical financial principles. His discipline is what enables us to return to his ways when we stray. He allows a financial curse or wilderness to develop in our lives. To him disobedience to his biblical financial principles is robbery. We robe God of what belongs to him. He said, “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me…in tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you because you are robbing me” (Malachi 8-9).
A whole nation or household can be under a curse because of one of the heads of a household is walking in disobedience. The curse of not giving is living in scarcity and continual harassment from the devourer (devil) either through a financial misfortune, losses, theft, money going to cover for sickness, and other unnecessary burdens. And because God is merciful he gives manna to the disobedient so that they survive by the day. Until obedience is fulfilled the manna continues.
Breaking the Curse of Poverty Through Obedience
The curse is only changed into a blessing when one starts giving. Ten percent was the Old Covenant minimum but it can be a safe level to start on. There is no other substitute. Our monetary and material means that are given as gifts are the only worthy seeds for a material harvest. We can also freely give our time and talents that have financial value to Christian causes. This can be a way of making up for low financial contributions in the manna years of scarcity. Merely praying or fasting will do almost nothing. Prayer and fasting only water the seeds. Without the seeds no amount of water will bring anything from the ground. No seed falling to the ground no harvest.
Usually prayer and fasting are not necessary to material harvests This is because material seeds work on God’s principle: “A man reaps whatever he sows.” (Galatians 6: 7). If material harvests came from prayer then only Christians would have the material means. The rest would be on manna until they got born again. Evangelism would so easy, if at all it would be needed. Unbelievers would seek salvation once they got tired of the manna.
God has set aside prayer (and occasional fasting) for more important seeds -evangelism. He wants us to concentrate on watering (praying and fasting) over seeds of salvation and liberty among lost souls. We can pray over our evangelism efforts or those of other ministries to produce their intended harvest of souls.
In the financial or material area God personally opens the windows of heaven to bless us. This happens as we apply the principles of seed time and harvest time. We do not need to pray or ask him to open the windows of heaven.
Here he wants to be tested and not be prayed to. Can you imagine God asking his creatures to challenge, test or tempt him? He said, “Test me in this and see if I will not through open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessings that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10). There is so much in heaven that God had to build floodgates - figuratively speaking. Floodgates are for stopping floods. God’s kingdom is flooded with blessings waiting to be poured out on obedient souls in the biblical financial principles.
Wanna go for a one on one with God, the Almighty, All Powerful and so on? He says “test me,” or “try me.” In paraphrasing he is saying “let’s see who is going to win in the giving game between you and I. Let’s see if what you give to me will be more than what I give back in return to you.” It’s easy to know who the winner will be.
God’s victory of giving more than the giver may not come in the short-run. Any short-sighted person can have a difficult time understanding how God works. Many times the desired means also do not come the way an individual expects. For instance, he may open doors for your children into schools and professional positions that you could only dream of. This way your children become your most exciting part of your senior life. Seeing the faithfulness of God fulfilled in their lives gives you more reasons for living. Such a blessing may take 30 or more years to materialize. Yet you kept sowing throughout those decades. God is faithful – in his time and way.
How God Opens the Floodgates of Heaven
The floodgates of blessings God pours out are in the form of avenues that he opens for us to receive from him and be under his protection. One avenue is through divine ideas. For instance, God told Isaac to plant crops in drought season and he “reaped a hundred fold” (Genesis 27:12). God can drop ideas into the heart of an individual on how to run or start a particular business, where to look for employment, or if it’s a promotion, how she should conduct herself for promotion.
Another avenue is God commanding favor in the hearts of other people towards an individual and her particular calling. “Let love and faithfulness never leave you…then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man,” (Proverbs 3:3-4). This favor or grace is the anointing of God upon an individual and his/her particular calling.
The individual may not be as educated as her associates, or as good looking, as old or young, as talented, or whatever is desired, yet the anointing upon her will make her to be exceptional in one way or another. The individual can be a farmer, lawyer, nurse, retailer, an evangelist, consultant, teacher, and so on. People will be attracted to her and be more willing to receive from or transact with whatever she offers than with others.
The academic world may be the most meritorious system in the world. One gets a certificate, degree or grade depending on their ability in a selected field. Merit or ability not favor or chance is the ultimate determinant. The professional world operates in a somewhat chaotic way. Merit (ability) and favor coexist with one being more prominent than the other in different fields and places.
Making it in such a chaotic world may need more than merit for some. For others ability may be all that will be required. God opens doors for mastering the ability and where necessary grants favor in securing a position, business, property, interest or whatever.
God even lays burdens in the hearts of some people to give in monetary or material form to the individual. Our Lord Jesus and his disciples lived under this favor. Jesus made Judas Escariot, a perpetual thief, his treasure to show how unconcerned he was for material provisions. No matter how much Judas embezzled supplies never ran out.
How God Prevents Satan from Destroying the Blessing
“I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” (Malachi 3:11).
Pests are problems and misfortune that arise in areas of interest in our lives. The comparison scripture uses is related to farming. A farmer labors sowing seed, tenders it while eagerly expecting a great harvest as the final outcome. However pests come and ruin all his labor. He worked hard but this time it was all in vain. He worked to feed the pests, not himself or his/her family.
In our lives Satan and his agents are the pests. They work to destroy everything we endeavor in that is godly and scriptural. Destruction is their only ministry. Their ministry succeeds where we do not have God’s protection. So if our financial areas have no covering our labor may be in vain.
God prevents Satan’s access when we start to apply the biblical financial principles. We do not need to pray to him to rebuke the devourer. He does it on his own. Our obedience breaks the curse of poverty for as long as we remain in obedience. We do not need to be even concerned how Satan is working in his ministry of trying to frustrate our lives. Our concern should be on how we’re obeying God in fulfilling our required input.
When our obedience is fulfilled to God’s principles he works to rebuke or prevent the devourer affecting our lives. Knowing God’s principles in every area of our lives is therefore our only refuge. The enemy feeds on our ignorance. When we know the truth in a given area Satan can devise any plan of destruction but God’s angels will prevent him from fulfilling it. No need of binding and loosing evil spirits of this and that.
Non-believers survive by the mercy of God. The devourer has easy access into their lives. The financial area is where more people are trapped in the curse of poverty than are out of it. This includes believers. Satan may be the thief that comes to steal the blessing but he is not the problem. The problem is believers themselves. We give him access to spoil the harvest if we do not live by biblical financial principles. Living outside biblical principles gives pests as much access to us as they have to unbelievers in their finances.
For instance one may save a good amount of money only to loose it through a misfortune. An illness or accident may come along and eat some of it. He/she may invest into something only to see it collapse. One way or another money seems to be coming in and quickly going out through another door.
Another situation may be borrowing for matters one shouldn’t have. The individual could still survive without them. But the tempter shows up with wonderful ideas on how one’s life will be better off if they borrowed to obtain certain desires. The funds will after all be repaid at a low interest. Before long the individual is having trouble paying the interest, leave alone the loaned amount. It is like being caught up in a prison of working to pay someone else. This someone is part of the pests that have entered to eat whatever one labors in.
This is how curses operate. They keep people from making any progress in areas of interest. People try hard only to fall back, or ending up worse off. A worse off situation arises where an individual gets into increasing debts. Another can be through other problems coming up to eat every form of piece of mind one desires to have in life. We see this in many so called celebrities. Many live tormenting lives confronting one serious problem after another. They have money and earthly fame but they have no peace. Having peace only comes from the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Most of us saved have this peace. We did not buy it. It was freely given upon receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We have the most expensive blessing that no wealth, power, beauty, fame or worldly pleasure can buy. Any believer that does not have it ought to search what is grieving the Holy Spirit from bringing his peace and comfort. Sometimes trials may overwhelm but only some times. Most times the Lord enables us to bear our trials of faith, knowing he is the one in control, not our circumstances, nor other people, nor Satan.
During my worst trial or is it worst experience of reaping from ignorance I concluded the best option was dying. Not suicide but asking God to take my life. After all he did that to Elijah who was as human as any of us. Having no children or spouse yet to leave behind made it safe to say such “self-centered” prayers. Like with Elijah it was time to go to a better place. “I have had enough, Lord,” he (Elijah) said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors,” 1 King 19:3-4. Then God revealed the cause of the problem - bombarding hell in the name of spiritual warfare prayers and deliverance prayers. Applying all that was required and correcting interpretation on spiritual warfare ended all the torment.
In the midst of the torment I had all the peace as to who I served, where I was going after dying and knowing who was in control over my case. A colleague who was an unbeliever was puzzled to think of someone not being afraid to die. Fellow believers understood the salvation principle though they of course disagreed on making such prayers. Well, God tossed out all such prayers then later revealed the cause. This book, other books and the ministry work would not have materialized had he answered the prayers. I would have been in heaven but would have also received a smaller crown. And many would have been deprived of what he purposed to fulfill from the experiences.
The Bottom Line
The whole truth about financial rewards is that any giver prospers. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed,” (Proverbs 11:25). It does not matter whether one gives to the work of God or to the work of men. Neither does his religion or spiritual state matter. The law of seed time and harvest time applies to all of us. One harvests whatever he sows.
A mango seed will always harvest mangoes no matter the soil it is planted in. It cannot change to oranges. Same with material or financial seeds. That is why many people in the occult are very wealthy. They are not wealthy because they are in occultism. It is because they know and aggressively apply the law of seed time and harvest time. But they have their major problems that amount to severe bondage.
Some of what individuals and companies call as charitable giving to non-profits, sports clubs, schools, hospitals and communities are activities of increasing their wealth so that they can increase their mischief. Their seed is of the flesh and the material harvest is of the flesh. Whatever the sacrifice it has no reward in heaven.
Some individuals and companies may even give for extreme occult reasons. You may have heard rumors of some companies contributing some of their profits to satanic churches. Most rumors are hoaxes made by up their competitors. But it shows such activity is there. Some companies reap large profits by sowing some of their finances to demons.
Same Harvest, Different Taste of Harvested Material Fruits
The only difference between Christian and all other forms of giving is that one sows to the Spirit (of God) and the other to the flesh (sinful nature). Monetary and material gifts by a Christian with genuine motives to other believers or needy people in society are material seeds sown to the Spirit. The recipients may include one’s local church, an evangelistic ministry, and a Christian charity.
On the other hand, monetary and material gifts by a non-Christian, even with right motives, sown to needy people in society are seeds sown to the flesh. One cannot buy his/her way to heaven by good works. Good works that have value in heaven are from us who already are counted as God’s children. The good hearted non-believer will be blessed materially and have quite a respectable life on earth but that’s about it.
You may have met or heard of good-hearted non-Christians doing all kinds of charity work. Many lead quite admirable lives that many self-righteous Christians may have much to learn from. I have met many in various areas including in charity ministry. I pray for their salvation which is a free gift from God. “It (salvation) is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9.
While salvation and a plot in heaven is a free gift through Christ the crown is not. Christians that may think works are not important have not read the bible. They have not read how much believers had to sacrifice for the gospel and godly work. On judgment day Jesus’ judgment will be based on what we have done not just for being saved by grace. “My reward is with me, and I will give to every one according to what he has done,” (Revelations 22:12).
It gets more complicated where scripture adds that not all our good works will be accepted. Like those of unbelievers some of our works may be rejected. They will have no value in heaven. They will bring material rewards here on earth. But they will not be credited in heaven.
Here is a warning from scripture regarding our good works. Note that the one whose entire good works are rejected will narrowly escape the fire (hell) and will also suffer loss. It does not elaborate what kind of loss but the mathematics in the scripture points to seeds of the flesh = fruits of the flesh, that is, problems spiritually, socially, physically, etc. “If any man builds on this (salvation) foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames,” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
With such a warning we can now proceed to the principle of reaping whatever we sow. Since the scriptures can never be broken each seed will reap it’s own nature. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature (flesh), from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit; from the Spirit will reap eternal life,” (Galatians 6:8). One group of seeds harvest fruits that bring destruction on the individual. The other group brings health and life to the individual.
They are all monetary seeds but they harvest different types of monetary fruits. For instance, lemon and orange seeds are both citrus seeds. When planted they both produce citrus fruits. However, the taste of the fruits differ. One group is bitter while the other group is sweet.
The same is the case with monetary and material seeds. Flesh and spirit monetary seeds have one thing in common: they are both monetary seeds. They therefore both produce monetary fruits. However, the taste of the fruits differ. One group is bitter, the other group is sweet. One group of monetary wealth brings sorrow, trouble and death. The other group brings trouble free rewards.
“When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and to be happy in his work - this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life (with regrets), because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart,” (Ecclesiastes 5: 19-20).
“The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it,” (Proverbs 10:22). His blessings add no trouble because they are fruits one reaps from sowing to the Spirit.
Scripture says the fruit of sowing to the Spirit (of God) is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Galatians 5: 22-23).
On the other hand, the fruits of sowing to the sinful nature (the flesh) include, “Sexual immorality; impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (Galatians 5: 19-21).
“The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous” (Proverbs 3:33). The measure of material rewards is therefore not on the scale of quantity but on quality. To what extent are they either curses or blessings on the lives of those that have them? To what extent are they facilitating their walk with God. To what extent are they blocking it? David prayed to God, “Turn my heart towards your statutes and not towards selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things,” (Psalm 119:36-37)
If what is sown to God’s work has selfish gain motives in it then it is likely to reap a flesh harvest. Orange trees when not tendered properly while growing can turn into lemon trees. Lemons are basically bitter oranges and not the other way round. The same change can happen to monetary seeds sown to the Spirit, that is, God’s work (evangelism and Christian charity) when not tendered properly or if they are sown with selfish gain motives. They produce bitter monetary fruits in the sower’s life.
Christianity is a call to total self-denial. Whatever comes into one’s hand must go back to extending God’s interests not ours. For instance, if an individual is called into business ministry, the more profits God blesses him with, the more he must sow towards God’s interests. He should not stick with the old testament ten percent rule and shift the rest on personal gains of acquiring a fleet of cars and other unnecessary personal additions. His selflessness must be expressed in his zeal in God’s interests and lack of interest in himself.
About self denial our Lord said “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it,” (Matthew 16:24-25). The measure of our obedience is determined by how much we deny our interests and lose our lives by burying them in the work of Christ in whatever calling God puts us in. “Where your treasure (interest) is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21).
Where to sow
Much of what has been shared may have clarified this. It may be worthwhile to summarize it. Wherever you sow as long as it’s in Christian related causes matters less than your motives for sowing. You will receive financial rewards for whatever financial sacrifice you make. God remembers them all and will reward you in due season.
Your concern should be whether or not your financial sacrifices will have a heavenly reward. You may be desperate now to care less on what you’ll later receive but I advise you to minimize your desperation. The more in a hurry you are the more God may test your faith and try to align your motives to suit his. He can therefore delay your purposed reward or transfer it to your children altogether. He may instantly reward but you will be a rare exception. Many of us have had to walk by faith and learnt to give for the sake of the gospel for years and years and years. God has blessed us in many ways that toil and sweat cannot manage. However it has all been in his way and measure, not ours.
Another counsel is on ministries claiming to be fertile ground. I believed this until the Lord revealed these matters. The only fertile ground is you the individual believer not an entire ministry. If it was a ministry then our heavenly rewards will be based on which ministries we gave to regardless of our motives. Even non-Christians will be rewarded for helping Billy Graham or Joyce Meyer in their evangelism work or supporting James Gondwe in his orphanage ministry.
The scripture says the soil (good or bad) is the believer. The parable about the good and bad soil is in Mark 4:13-20. The parable is more about how we apply God’s word in our lives than about finances. Regarding finances we will reap wherever we sow even with wrong motives or in wrong areas.
Our concern needs to be on our motives and areas that the bible supports - Christian causes. Where to sow is therefore in areas that can be considered as Christian causes or responsibilities of the body of Christ. They need to be part of God’s household mentioned in Malachi. God’s house is the body of Christ that is beyond a single ministry, denomination or structure.
A traditional church easily fits the description because of our conservative views. However the early church structure is far from what we have today. It was wherever people met and wherever believers did God’s work. They even denounced temple buildings that the Israelites considered being sacred houses of God. Stephen got stoned to death for such remarks (Acts 7:48-50). Paul, the one who supervised his stoning went on after his conversion to establish Stephen’s divine inspired version of non-traditional temples. The early Protestants like John Wesley followed this up in their non-traditional ministries.
There is no ten percent rule of paying tithe like in the old testament. Neither is there a rule on sowing to a single ministry or to multiple ones. However it is good not to walk away from your local church. They survive and grow based on your support and you probably have been blessed by their teachings. Attending a local church Sunday after Sunday and never helping out in their financial needs is spiritual robbery. Maybe you feel that they don’t deserve your help. Then you’re better off moving elsewhere you’d be willing to contribute at least on a level you feel grateful for their role in your life.
The other problem is when manipulation and deceit is used to obtain financial support. For instance when some claim sowing to their ministry will bring a financial breakthrough or break yokes in certain areas. It is not wrong to say God will bless you. He will bless you because of your obedience to his word on giving, not obedience to someone’s word on where to give, when or how much. It is wrong when God’s blessing is linked to giving to a certain ministry, certain ministry programs and giving certain amounts.
If the blessing comes quickly enough you may end up assuming it came because you obeyed someone’s word. He/she ends up getting the credit and not God’s unbreakable word on giving that was actually fulfilled as you gave. You’re better off staying away from manipulative ministries. They may hinder some of your blessings because they make people focus on the assumed power of their ministry and not the real power of God’s word when obeyed. Fellowship with a ministry that does not create such hindrances. There are enough hindrances to deal with already.
So certain amounts can be set aside for local and other ministries that have been a blessing to you in one way or another. Bless them materially for the spiritual empowerment they have sown in your life. “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?” 1 Corinthians 9:11. The material support is anticipated to come from those being assisted spiritually. “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel,” 1 Corinthians 9:14. If our work has blessed you and you'd like to support our ministry please visit our support pages at JesusWork.org (Jesus Work Ministry).
Certain amounts can go to ministries you love to support in their work and care less of hearing or benefiting from them - spiritually, socially and so on. These can include Christian charities helping materially disadvantaged people. Certain amounts can go to your own personal ministry like helping your parents (or former guardians), needy members of your extended family, personal evangelism and so on. Helping your own immediate family (spouse and children) is like helping yourself so it will not count as a sacrificial seed. But your immediate family still counts as part of your personal ministry.
Here is the best part on where to sow financial seeds. Sowing with the right motives and in Christian causes is what brings sweet fruits as opposed to bitter fruits. The gifts sown are also counted as a reward in heaven’s bank account. The sweet fruits and heavenly storing is what we all desire from our good deeds. We want to support the body of Christ in evangelism and charitable work for the worthy sake of the work even if no earthly reward came. However we also want heaven to honor our sacrifices on Judgment day rather than trash them in the fire. “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing,” 1 Corinthians 13:1.
If we cared less how heaven will value our good deeds then we could give with wrong motives and/or to non-Christian causes. The eventual outcome would still be a financial harvest, but one with bitter fruits and with no heavenly account. No sincere Christian would want this to his/her name. Besides, bitter financial fruits are as distressing and many times worse than having no fruits at all. “Better a little (wealth) with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil,” Proverbs 15:16. “He who increases his wealth by exorbitant interest amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor,” Proverbs 28:8.
How to Start
Having a giving lifestyle may be easy for some while difficult for others. Some who grew up with generous parents or guardians may have easily caught on this discipline. For those that may have problems you have God as your helper. Ask him to give you a heart and mind that is selfless and a heart that will help you in obtaining material blessings based on his principles.
A generous heart is God’s spiritual gift of being empowered to apply the biblical financial principles. “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant,” Deuteronomy 8:18. This ability or anointing to produce wealth (material resources) is not some magical or mysterious power that turns everything we touch into gold. It is being empowered with a generous heart that easily gives and gives without being preoccupied with its own needs or what it’s getting in return.
A generous heart is blessed in the long run while one that keeps withholding receives no reward. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty,” Proverbs 11:24. The spiritual laws of seed time and harvest time work in favor of the generous giver in the long run. It is important to pray for God’s ability to have a generous heart if one lacks one. It is a spiritual gift known as the gift of giving or of helps (1 Corinthians 12:28).
Scripture encourages us to desire all spiritual gifts in whatever measure God, the giver, is able to give us (1 Corinthians 14:1). Better asking for too much and receive some than asking for a little and receive a minimum that God desired to give. Gifts are for helping us in doing good works. They have little or no relationship with showing how spiritual one is. This book was written through one or more of these gifts working through me. It does not necessarily mean I am more spiritual than those who may not have the ability to share God’s truths in this way. The same goes with the gift of giving. It will not mean it’s a spiritual promotion once God gives it to you after asking for it.
Spiritual promotion comes through submitting to God in such an intimate way that his Spirit is effectively enabled to produce his fruit through us. The nature of his fruit that is produced in our lives is diverse. Scripture says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit,” Galatians 5: 22-25.
Having the fruit of the spirit is therefore far more important than having the gifts of the Spirit. “Now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing,” 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:1-3.
Without love, a fruit of the Spirit, all our gifts have no value in heaven, no matter what we accomplish thorough them. Having the fruit of the Spirit flow through us is what makes our gifts of the Spirit acceptable to God. So please be mindful as the Lord gives you many gifts, including the gift to possess much material resources that it has little, if anything, to do with a spiritual promotion. It does not indicate that you’re closer to God even if people easily judge one’s closeness to God by how much he/she is doing in the body of Christ. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.
We’ll be amazed in heaven the little reward some will receive after we have labeled them as great men and women of God because of what they outwardly accomplished. God looks at how much was driven by love and his other fruits as opposed to how much was driven by ambition, material gain, fame, power and so on. Some have gone on to manipulate innocent believers that they have a special anointing on them that if you sow to their ministry God will break whatever yokes in your life. Sowing to their ministry, not following the biblical ways of God has been made the focus. They are more focused on their ambition to grow their ministries than to connect people to God and his spiritual ways in the bible.
So please be mindful that spiritual gifts have nothing to do with a spiritual promotion. Do not look down on people that may not have certain gifts as if they are less spiritual than you. They are as close to God, if not closer, if their lives are overflowing with the fruit of the Holy Spirit -love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “To love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Mark 12:33.
After asking for the gift of giving you begin looking at whatever you have to give. If you have enough food to eat and a basic form of shelter the rest is a luxury. If your luxury is hindering you from giving you can work on minimizing all that you can live without. Relocating to a cheaper residence maybe necessary if you are paying too much rent. Remember that God does not need your giving. It is you that needs his giving. To receive his giving he requires you to give first. It is therefore wiser to get rid of stuff that hinder you from giving. With all the hindrances around you God will continue waiting until you do your part.
As said earlier praying for God’s material blessing will achieve little, if at all anything. Praying for God to help you in making priorities is a worthy prayer. Beyond that you’re asking him to disobey spiritual laws he has set up for our own benefit. If he could provide material resources just through prayer there would be no poverty among Christians. There are many Christians worldwide who pray fervently and overflow in the fruit of the Holy Spirit but still suffer avoidable financial afflictions. Why? “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds,” John 12:24.
A particular seed must therefore fall to the ground first before any harvest comes. On material harvests the particular seed required is a material seed, not prayer. Prayers are seeds for evangelism and for seeking God’s ability to obey and fulfill his spiritual laws. They are not for asking God to make some short-cuts.
Where funds are scarce material items can be given or sold with the funds going to Christian evangelistic or charity causes. Items you can live without may be idle seed that could be sown for your future harvest. There is much around us that can be worthwhile seed. It’s worth looking around.
If all you have is yourself, that is, no source of income there is still something to give – yourself. You can volunteer in Christian evangelistic or charity causes. Wherever your time or skills are needed can be a starting point. Your labor won’t be in vain. In due season God will begin to open strange doors that will enable you to give even financially. Or he may take care of your material needs in such a way that other people will be drawn to helping you materially. Some may even be good-hearted unbelievers. You can pray for their salvation.
Another counsel concerns borrowing. Some may assume borrowing in order to sow financial seed may be acceptable. God discourages borrowing, likening it to inviting servitude or bondage. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender,” Proverbs 22:7. So the issue behind borrowing is that it has its own harvest. Sowing to borrowing you may end up reaping more borrowing. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows,” Galatians 6:7.
If any ministry asks you to borrow for certain programs while promising God’s blessing please leave that ministry faster than you got involved with it. They have put their ministry agenda beyond your welfare spiritually, materially, socially and so on. God, not their ministry is the one who will release your blessing. It will be based on what he has promised in his word not based on what a ministry has said. And his word certainly has nothing to do with borrowing in order to receive a blessing.