The business of ‘the world’ is buying and selling. The business of “the Kingdom” is sowing and reaping
Jean Boudou – South African barrister and world speaker
During the summer holidays I achieved a personal goal – a study of all the major Bible passages which teach on Sowing and Reaping. To my astonishment I found that there are none which teach directly on the subject. Always it is mentioned as a proof of some other principle being taught. I was left asking myself “Why?”
The conclusion I came to is that in Bible times, Sowing and Reaping was considered so obvious that it didn’t need to be taught. Living in an agrarian economy, they understood that unless people sow, they simply couldn’t reap.
How different our culture has become. Today at school, children are taught differently for the sake of their self-esteem. They are taught that they are ‘number one’. The world owes them a living. Consequently they leave school thinking that they are free to do what they please. Then at about age 30-40 they come to us, holding hands, and asking: “can Liberty Trust help them buy a home?” They are finally coming to realise that they have been sold a lie. Life is really about responsibilities and relationships. They have just talked to a bank lending officer and are shocked at what they have learned. Unfortunately they have just lived 20 years of spending on themselves, and made no provision for the future. They have never understood what was fundamental in Bible times – that unless you sow you won’t reap (Gal.6:7-10).
We tend to think that Sowing and Reaping is principally about money, but we are wrong. It is a natural rhythm that is fundamental to all of life. Yet today many of us still carry ‘the world’s’ thinking into our lives. For example, adolescents spend years looking for a partner who will give them what they want – a partner to enjoy life with.
Jesus however taught that life a matter of Sowing and Reaping.
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
We tend to give only ‘so much’ into our marriages, still believing that our life is our own. We retain our rights. We even call our spouse our “partner”, as if the marriage relationship is a 50/50 partnership where each should only give 50%. Jesus would reply that if we only give 50% – we will only get 50%. The more we give – the more we will ‘reap’.
Jesus further illustrated the principle in John 12:24 when teaching of His imminent death. He said: “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.” Jesus gave His everything (John 3:16) so that we might live.
I have always likened contributions given into Liberty Trust, or elsewhere into God’s Kingdom, as Sowing before Reaping. While this is correct, my vision has been too small. While financial giving will result in financial blessing, the blessings far exceed just financial blessings. If we are to reap the life that Jesus meant for each one of us in John 10:10: “I am come that they may have abundant life”, then we have to lay down our old lives completely and take up His. Jesus said to the rich young man who asked him how to inherit eternal life: “Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor”. Yes, Jesus’ heart ached for him, but he could accurately see that he was living for himself. As Jesus also said in Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
It reminds me of a story told of a rich man who died and asked St Peter (at the gate) if he could bring it all in with him. “You can only bring in that which you have given away,” replied Peter.
Unlike the agrarian economy of the day, Jesus taught in His parables that good seed always multiplies when it is planted in good soil. I see an obvious example of Sowing & Reaping in families. The amount that parents give in training their children up to about age 12, and the example they set them after that, will have a huge influence upon their children’s lives. Nevertheless, no matter what they sow, it is finally the children’s own choice which will determine what they reap. We simply have to teach this to our children. Paul says in Gal. 6:7: “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Unconsciously the world today still understands that sowing is necessary before reaping, “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things, come in and choke the world” Mark 4:19. Training in finances has to start as young children (Prov. 22:6) or the world’s message will later choke it. This is why we are so earnest in our cry to parents to introduce their children to sowing into Liberty Trust at a minimum, as part of their training for life. As parents we know it from first-hand experience.
Kelvin Deal is an accountant, married to Kathleen and living in Whakatane. He is also Chairman of the Liberty Trust.
Christians need to have courage to talk about the Bible in public life, a leading academic told a gathering in the British parliament this morning.
Professor John Lennox from Oxford University was addressing around 600 people in the Houses of Parliament at the annual National Prayer Breakfast organised by the Bible Society.
Professor Lennox described atheism as a “delusion” and a “fairy tale for those afraid of the light”.
He urged Christians to have the courage to speak out about their faith in the public sphere and cited the example of Tyndale’s translation of the Bible into English 400 years ago.
Professor Lennox regularly speaks out against an atheistic worldview, calling Richard Dawkins “wrong”. He blamed new atheism for “the moral drift” in today’s society and rebutted claims that science and religion are opposed to each other.
“God is not the same kind of explanation as science is,” he said. “God is the explanation of why there is a universe at all in which science can be done.”
He added: “The playing field is not level since atheism has become so dominant – and is often regarded as the default position in the media.
“If we teach people that morality is an illusion, they will begin to believe it. Many already have with the result that our institutions are awash with scandal, families are increasingly fractured, people are lonelier than ever and trust is at an all-time low.
The Evangelical Alliance’s (UK) general director Steve Clifford, who attended the prayer breakfast, praised the organisers for another sterling event and added: “It was fantastic to be there in Westminster with hundreds of people. The highlight for me was hearing John Lennox’s unapologetic defence of the Christian faith. It was one of the best talks of its kind I have ever heard.”
Earlier this morning, in a statement, prime minister David Cameron, said: “It is encouraging that Christianity still plays such a vital role in our national life. We are a country with a Christian heritage and we should not be afraid to say so.”
Matthew van Duyvenbode, head of campaigns, advocacy and media at Bible Society, said: “In a society searching for deeper meaning, a compelling witness to hope is required. Within the Scriptures, we find a tantalising vision of hope one which stimulates, provokes and invites us to become the signs of hope for others.”
Search on the Internet for ‘uses for salt’ and you will find over 119,000,000 results. It’s a popular topic. According to the Salt Institute there are over 14,000 known uses for salt and is among the most important minerals supporting our lives and health.
In fact, salt is so important that we can’t live without it! Sodium and chloride, the two major components of salt, are found in our blood, sweat and digestive juices; they are needed to regulate the fluid balance in our bodies. Sodium is also found in our nervous system and is used for electrical signalling; without it, our senses would be virtually disabled and we would be unmotivated to respond to our surroundings.
Because our bodies are incapable of producing our own sodium or chloride, we are dependent on getting these minerals from elsewhere.
… my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19
It’s not a coincidence that the Earth’s surface is approximately 70% salt water and yet, God’s provision is greater still. Salt can be found all around us in: underground deposits, naturally occurring salt domes, dried up residues of ancient seas, salt lakes… And, as if that isn’t enough, God sends us even more on meteors that crash into the Earth’s surface. Talk about generosity!
In Resourcing the frontline, I told you that music is my primary love language. Even before I knew God existed, He spoke to me through song. One of the favourite medleys we sang in my high school choir was Godspell: ‘Prepare ye The Way of the Lord’, ‘Day by Day’, ‘Light of the World’ “… but if that salt has lost its flavour, it ain’t got much in its favour!”
You are the salt of the earth… – Matthew 5:13
So, if God calls us salt, then it must mean that:
a) we are significant and
b) there’s a huge variety of ways that God can use us in this world.
I want to encourage you to think about some of the ways we use salt in our physical world and relate that to how God can use us to affect the world we live in.
Food – another thing we can’t live without!
Food is what we put into our bodies and convert into energy so we can live. Here are five culinary uses for salt:
Flavour – Intensify and deepen the flavours already present in the food.
Preservative – Alter the conditions to inhibit growth of harmful mould or bacteria.
Gauge freshness– Test if uncooked eggs are fresh.
Preparation– Remove the minimal outer surface of food before making or serving.
Safety – Extinguish grease fires in kitchens.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:5-6
Think of the words we speak as the food we share with the people around us. Good, quality food is not only more enjoyable, but it produces good, quality energy.
Flavour – Bring out the best in people. Encourage one another. Call the good out of someone and they will rise to the call.
Preservative – Change the environment around you; the words you speak, your actions… Inhibit the spread of harmful thoughts and behaviours.
Gauge freshness – You know when something’s ‘off’. Please, let others know.
Preparation– Sometimes we need to remove the outer surface without damaging what’s underneath in order to bring healing.
Safety – Have you ever found yourself in a situation where tempers flare? The words you speak have the power to extinguish flames and make way for the matter to be resolved.
What other uses are there for salt?
In truth, salt is extremely versatile. Culinary use is only one of many and I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s cleaning, gardening, other uses for our bodies including medicinal health and wellbeing… The list is huge.
Please share some of your insights about how we can be salt in the world by engaging in a conversation in the comments section below. I also encourage you to take the opportunity to pass this on and inspire others through Facebook, Twitter etc.