Bigger Seed, Bigger Fruit!

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 2 Cor. 9:6

It is hard not to contextualize this scripture. In the charismatic gospel that I grew up in during my early years of salvation, this scripture was automatically interpreted in shillings or dollars – or material things. Give more and you shall receive more. 2 Corinthians 9:6 fits the money lovers’ agenda like a glove. It is a prized favorite with them.

But the Apostle Paul, who is the writer of this scripture, was not a money lover. Paul was a man of the Spirit. He could hardly have been smitten with the dollar sign. So, why would he write such words?

As I said in a recent post, I raise chickens for a living and, through this enterprise, I have learned many valuable lessons. Simple lessons in the natural, but profound in the Spirit. I have learned, for example, that an egg will hatch a chick that is equivalent to itself in size. The bigger the egg, the bigger the chick that will be hatched from it and, once fully grown, the bigger the chicken that chick will eventually become. Likewise, the smaller the egg, the smaller the chicken it will produce.

In other words, the bigger the seed, the bigger the fruit!

In like manner, Paul is saying here that we shall reap a harvest equal to the seed we have sown. But Paul is talking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. He is saying, therefore, that in the same measure that we sow in the Spirit, we shall reap in like measure in the Spirit.

How do we sow in the Spirit? We sow in the Spirit by dying to the flesh; by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ. You can argue your way to the farthest galaxy and back but that principle remains unmovable. It will only be done away with when Jesus comes back to end this present world.

What does it mean to deny ourselves? Denying ourselves in the Spirit means finding joy in the things of the Spirit rather than in the things of the flesh. It means casting away the things that would profit our flesh – the “me” attitude – and looking beyond self to the will of God. God’s will includes looking outward to the interests of others rather than inward, to our own interests. And this attitude must of necessity come with joy and a free will. That is why, in the following verse Paul states:

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (v. 7)

The word “cheerful” here talks of joy in the Spirit; and this joy can only come about when we have denied the flesh.

The more we sow our lives by denying ourselves, the more we will become profitable to God and to others in the Spirit – and the more we will add to our spiritual and heavenly account. As we give of our lives more and more, we create a tornado-like effect of profit – for God, for the brethren, for unbelievers even, and for ourselves. This is exactly what Paul says in the subsequent verses:

“8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (vs. 8-15)

Let us now consider the reaping part. Notice, in verse 10, that it is “the fruits of your righteousness” that God is looking to. What is that talking of? It is referring to the fruit of the Spirit. The more we give of ourselves in the Spirit, the more the fruit of the Spirit will increase in our lives. Peace, joy, thanksgiving and such-like things will be found in greater measure in our lives as we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ.

Wherever the idea came from that this scripture refers to us prospering in the natural? God is not looking to us to prosper in the natural. Whether we prosper in the natural or not is nothing with Him. Increasing “the fruits of your righteousness” is what truly concerns God, and whatever it takes to arrive at that goal should be our concern also.

The greater our giving through dying to self, the greater the joy and thanksgiving to God we create in the Spirit. And these are the activities that please God.

The sowing/reaping principle is all-encompassing. It involves our ministry also. We will become effective in ministry to the extent that we die to self. The Apostle Paul says:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

Is God a respecter of persons? Hardly. God’s grace is there for all of us to acquire. But there was an increase of grace in Paul’s life for him to become more effective in God’s labor fields to the extent that he received that grace “not in vain”. How did Paul receive God’s grace “not in vain”? Paul received God’s grace not in vain by sowing his life. He shut his eyes and presented his flesh as a living sacrifice to God. In that regard, the grace of God worked more in him.

That is why we need to not look to the flesh if we are to bear much fruit in the Spirit; fruit that will abound far beyond our personal frontiers even to God, and to others, both saved and unsaved.

[Below: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”]


Grateful Beyond Measure

Without a doubt, the greatest scourge that ravaged the African continent during the 19th century – although it is reputed to date back to as far back as the 6th century – was the infamous trade in slaves. The slave trade was an evil that was as indescribable as it was unprecedented and it brought untold misery to the African peoples.

There are many stories, all true, of how the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone fought the war against the slave trade both in small and in big ways. The story is told of how David Livingstone once met a slave caravan and, although he could do nothing to halt it – the slave traders were armed and dangerous – David stopped the caravan and managed to bargain for the release of one of the slaves upon whom he felt extreme pity.

The negotiations ended successfully after money had exchanged hands, and the slave was untied from the caravan. And there he stood in front of David, thinking he had merely exchanged hands from one slaver to another.

At which Livingstone told him, “Friend, you are free. You are free to go home.”

Upon hearing these words, the slave fell down at Livingstone’s feet and declared, “I will freely serve you all my life!”

He was overcome with the love and compassion that Livingstone had shown him.

Apart from writing this blog, one of the tasks that I do on my laptop is to translate gospel material from English to Swahili. The material that I translate comes mostly from brethren in the West.

When local people find me working on my laptop, they often ask me about the nature of my work, and I tell them. I tell them, “I am translating gospel material written by brethren from European countries.”

When they hear that, more often than not they say, “You must be receiving a lot of money from the white people for all this work!”

To which I reply, “No. I do not get paid to do these translations. Actually, I do not need any money to do this work. It gives me the greatest joy to do it for free. If they paid me to do this work, I would not have as much joy as I have doing it for free.”

Serving my Lord Jesus Christ is my joy. The opportunity to serve God the way I do is an indescribable reward from Christ to me. Many times I wonder at the incredible favor that I have to serve my Master in this way.

This joy is something that only my spirit comprehends, for my spirit knows well the redemption that Christ wrought for me.

But translating gospel teachings is not the only way that I am called to serve Christ. There are many other ways that the Bible calls us to serve Him. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12, the Apostle Paul lists three levels, or areas, of service to Christ, culminating with the famous thorn in the flesh. Paul’s bottom line in all his service to Christ is:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

Paul took pleasure, not only in serving God in peaceful terms, but even in conditions where the service involved suffering. This was a man who truly understood how much the Lord had paid to redeem him.

This is the place that the Lord calls us to arrive at.

[Below: In one area, at least, I serve my Lord with great joy!]


The Holy Spirit – Worthy is He! (Part 2)

I want to use Haji’s story to illustrate our spiritual condition, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Many Christians are not aware that it was God Himself who, through the Holy Spirit, initiated and accomplished the very act of our salvation the day we knelt down and accepted Jesus. It had nothing to do with us! Our spiritual condition was as terrible as Haji’s physical condition is and we had no help, either from ourselves, or from anyone else. It took me many years to come to this realization, and I was stunned! I had always had this smug feeling that it was I that accepted Christ. Well, no. We were all like lost sheep, and the Loving Shepherd Himself, of His own accord, came looking for us.

And not only that, but He paid a price in order to do that. A price of astonishing love, of loving the unlovable.

If I remember correctly, I did not even want to get saved. They came at me late in the afternoon, the preachers. After they had preached to me I more than they all was surprised when I heard myself say, “Ok, pray for me”. In fact, the minute I uttered those words my mind immediately shifted gear and I was in the process of reversing that statement; but they were much faster than I (in those days people were fast!) and they jumped on me like lightning and started praying over me. I remember that even as they prayed I was kicking and wanted to get from under the hands that they were laying on me. But the Lord held me down until they said the last ‘Amen!’, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The minute they said that ‘Amen’ over me the Lord transformed me. I don’t know what happened but within an instant I had been turned from a roaring lion to a mewing pussycat. The Lord saved me in spite of himself.

But, equally important, is the fact that, even after we find ourselves in the fold, we are constantly going astray in our spiritual ways, and once again it is the Holy Spirit who is constantly coming after us and lovingly turning us back.

In all these 24 years that I have been saved it is the Holy Spirit who has kept me safe in Christ – and that, again, in spite of myself.

Dear reader, do you realize how much the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives every second of the day, protecting us against the enemy, sustaining us spiritually, building us up in our spirits, gently showing us the will of the Father; in general, shepherding us just like a shepherd lovingly watches over his flock. I believe that the Holy Spirit’s most difficult task is protecting us against ourselves – and in spite of ourselves. We like to imagine we are very spiritual, God-loving people, but in reality it is the Holy Spirit’s work in us that makes us so. Left on our own we would eventually turn into a big piece of rot. The Bible in Romans 8 says that the carnal nature is enmity against God; it does not nor can it submit to God’s will. That’s who we are without the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus told the Jews, “My Father is even now still at work!”

We should be constantly on our knees in reverence and thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday I was traveling back to Dar by bus from Nairobi and we passed some cattlemen who were herding their cattle by the roadside with guns. With guns! Can you imagine that? How much more jealously do you think the Holy Spirit is watching over us?

The Holy Spirit does infinitely more for us than what these herdsmen were doing for their cattle, although we are hardly aware of it! Much of the time we think it is our efforts, or our prayers: ‘If I don’t pray this or that won’t happen’. Who said it won’t happen? How dare we compare our human labour with what only God can do? That is why in the end, if anything does happen – and much does happen because our God is our true Father, loving and merciful – we try to claim a part of the credit. At the same time we despise those who are not doing the same things we are doing or getting the same results as us.

That is why the Apostle Paul got the revelation that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of grace. Not of works, but of grace. Hallelujah!

We should be humble enough to acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit alone who is fighting all our battles and winning all our victories. From the tiniest to the greatest victory, all is a work of the Holy Spirit alone, and we have absolutely no part in it. In fact, if we are to have any part, it is in kneeling in gratitude and thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit for His ministry to us.

The Holy Spirit is the One whom Jesus promised to send to be with us, and He did send Him on the day of Pentecost, 2,000 years ago. The Holy Spirit has never left us and He is very busy behind the scenes (physically speaking), on our behalf.

He deserves our recognition. And He is worthy of all our praise and adoration. Indeed, more than worthy is He!

A Special Thank You!

In my last post I mentioned that I would begin a short series on the life and doctrine of the Apostle Paul. Before I tackle the thorny issue of the Apostle Paul, however, may my valued readership kindly allow me to side-track a bit and please permit me to take this opportunity to thank the many women who have been so supportive of this blog since it began many months ago. I deliberately say women because in the Bible we read that, during His ministry here on earth Jesus had women who encouraged and “ministered” to Him with their finances and other things. In other words, through what they did for Jesus, these women encouraged Him in His ministry. I believe that God has given that heart to women, and it is a joy to witness even today women of God serving Him in that way. It is a grace from God. Unfortunately, the word “support” has been much misused by many men of God today, and many women’s lives have been devastated financially and in other ways by unscrupulous preachers. In recognition of that I will just stick to the word “encourage”.

Likewise, I wish to thank the brethren of my own gender who have also upheld this blog and given me a reason to continue writing. With men I know it is not easy to continually show ‘support’ (that’s just the way we are), and when they do, they are men who in a way have decided to lose their lives and pay a price. Thank you, guys, and may the Lord reward your faithfulness.

In mentioning Jesus, I do not in any way intend to compare myself to our Lord – not by the longest shot and back. John the Baptist said of the  Lord Jesus, “Him I am not worthy to stoop and untie the thongs of His sandals.” For me, it is a matter of fact that even at this stage in my salvation, I know I am totally unworthy of doing anything remotely related to that which John talked about. But I thank my God who, because of His immeasurably great and tender mercies, and in ways I cannot understand, somehow has given me the privilege to not just come to Him, but even to call Him “Father”, with all rights of sonship granted. It is a grace I do not comprehend, but which I know I am not worthy of, nor could ever repay.

There are all kinds of gospels floating around trying to persuade Christians to “claim” their rights from God because they are now His sons and daughters. One preacher even used the word “wrench”. Sometimes I wonder at the irreverence of it all. That is the kind of thing spoilt kids do with their parents.

The only reason I mention Jesus in relation to myself is because in one way or another I seek after the truth of the gospel that He preached, and which the Apostles preached. Even in my weaknesses, I desire to understand and live that gospel more than anything else in my life. That need is made all the more urgent not only for me, but for the Body of Christ at large primarily because in the days we are living in there is so much obvious false hood coming from the pulpits.

I therefore take this opportunity to express my deep, heart-felt appreciation to the many women and men who have ‘Liked’ and commented on my posts and for those who are following my blog. There are many others who do not have the opportunity to comment in writing, but I am aware of the many ways in which they support me. You have all provided incalculable encouragement to me in the Spirit. From the bottom of my heart I say, “Thank you so much!”; and for that very reason I shall continue blogging, to the glory of God.

For those who might not be aware, I did not even begin this blog of my own accord. Some loving brethren encouraged me to begin writing it, and I did.

To them I say, “I am deeply grateful and indebted!”

May God bless you all mightily.

Tomorrow we look at the Apostle Paul.