Seed For the Sower: What to Give and What to Spend

You want to be generous, but you need to provide for your family. How do you decide what to do with your money?

God has a plan for our finances, and giving plays a big role in it. In addition to tithing to our local churches, God wants us to give abundantly to those in need and organizations that care for them. But exactly how much should you be giving? To answer this question, we turn to one of the most interesting concepts in Scripture: God supplies “seed for the sower and bread for food.”

God wants us to give as often as possible — “at all times” and “on every occasion.” But how do we know how much of our income we should be giving? No single answer that will fit every person or circumstance. But the Bible does give us some good guidelines to start with.

Sowing and Reaping

Once again, we look to II Cor. 9:6-11 for direction:

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

In this passage, Paul uses the metaphor of sowing and reaping to illustrate how generosity works . The more we give, the more God promises to bring back in return. When you sow more, you reap more. Give more resources, and more resources will be entrusted to you.

This metaphor also gives us an insight into how much we should give. Notice verse 10: “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed, and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”

Seed for the Sower and Bread for Food

Pay attention to the ideas of bread and seed. Bread represents the resources we should use to eat, provide for our families and take care of life’s necessities. Seed for the sower, on the other hand, is a resource that is set aside for giving.

When a farmer harvests a crop of wheat, he has a choice to make. He can either take all of that wheat and grind it into flour to make bread, or he can use all of those wheat germs to plant more wheat fields in order to have a bigger harvest next year. If he uses it all for bread, he won’t have any wheat to harvest next year. On the other hand, if he uses it all for seed, his family will starve while they wait for the next harvest.

The  solution to this conundrum is that we must do some of both. God provides seed for the sower and bread for food. In other words, He provides enough resources for us to both survive and give. It makes sense — you wouldn’t eat your seed, nor would you want to sow your bread. We should eat what has been given for provision, and sow what has been given for generosity.

How does this help us determine what to give? Well, God intends for us to use some of our resources to take care of our families. So you should never feel guilty about using your money to meet your needs. But we also know that God wants us to give often and abundantly. So once our needs are met, giving ought to be one of our chief financial priorities.

Answers for Your Life

There’s no golden ratio here — God doesn’t say that we should all live on 70% of our money and give the rest. So how should you go about determining how to give? Start by making a good budget that will help you figure out what you and your family really need. Be sure to plan for your long-term needs as well. And factor in a tithe to your church. What’s left over is your seed.

Sometimes it’s not easy to clearly identify what expenses are needs and which are only luxuries. And a little bit of luxury is okay. But we should always use discernment. If you’re not sure how much God wants you to spend and how much He wants you to give, just ask Him. He’s not going to lead you astray.

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