Bible Question:

What does the Bible say about planting a seed in the right ministry and what verses back it up? How are we blessed by our offerings and what verses back it up?

Bible Answer:

The concept of being able to “seed a ministry” and receive a hundred or any other fold back in financial gain is not a biblical principle. This false concept is being accepted by many churches and Christians because they have not seriously examined the very passages that are used to support the principle. Consequently, we will examine three passages to help us understand that this teaching is in error.

Receive A Hundred Times As Much

Mark 10:28-31 is the first passage that we will examine.

Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.” Mark 10:28-31 (NASB)

A man once complained that he was disappointed in God. When asked why he was disappointed with God, he said that he had been following the principle of giving a seed, but he was not receiving a hundred times back in return. He referred to Mark 10:28-31 and complained that God was not keeping His promise. Unfortunately, those who use Mark 10:28-31 to teach the concept of being blessed as the result of giving some money have missed the most obvious points of the passage and consequently the message.

Notice that Jesus said the one who receives a hundred times back must have given up his or her house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or farms. The man above was asked if he had given up any of these things? Now if someone says that he or she has given up some of these things, Jesus adds that they must have given them up for the gospel’s sake and not for the purpose of or becoming more wealthy.

It is also important to notice in verse 30, Jesus tells us what we receive for giving up any of these things. He promises that we will receive a hundred times as many houses. That sounds great for someone who is greedy. Jesus also says that this person will receive a hundred times as many brothers, sisters and mothers. Now someone might rejoice over hundred times as many brothers and sisters, but how does someone get a hundred times as many mothers? How can someone have one hundred mothers? The answer is that Jesus is speaking figuratively in order to simply make the point that they will be blessed greatly.

The final important point to notice is that the reward is in the “age to come, eternal life.” That is, Jesus is not talking about obtaining wealth, He is talking about giving everything in order to obtain eternal life. That is the same message of Matthew 10:37-39 and Matthew 16:24-27.

Reaping What You Sow

The nearest statement to the concept of being blessed in response to giving to God is found in 2 Corinthians when the Apostle Paul says,

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints . . . Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver . . . 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. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. (NIV) 2 Corinthians 9:1, 6-12

Before we explain this passage, you are encouraged to read the study entitled, “Tithing or Giving?” This passage simply says that when we give to the saints, God will bless us according to our gift. If we give little, God will give us little. If we give much, then God will give us more. The apostle is talking about giving to the saints, which includes pastors, missionaries, and others. If we sow little, we will reap little. If we sow more, then we will reap more. God gives us this is a principle for giving.

Another important passage is Malachi 3:8 which says that we rob God when we do not give a tithe to Him, but the passage actually applies to the Israelites and not Christians.

Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings. (NASB) Malachi 3:8

The study “Tithing or Giving?” explains that tithing was either a welfare tax, support for the priests or taxation in the Old Testament. In the New Testament tithing is never mentioned, but freewill, generous giving is the new principle. The divine principle of sowing and reaping is still there.

How Does God Bless?

What do we reap? We can reap money, but that is not the only possibility. As the apostle said in 2 Corinthians 9:10-12, there is a reward in righteousness and thanksgiving to God when we give. There are other rewards too! Here is one example of a reward from God as the result of sowing.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (NASB) 1 Corinthians 3:6-7

God also tells us that because our pastors have sown spiritual blessing, they should reap a financial blessing. The Apostle Paul did not take any money from the Corinthians, but he did teach them this principle.

If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. (NASB) 1 Corinthians 9:11-12

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, those who teach that a Christian can become rich by giving their money to some ministry are actually encouraging greed. One must also ask why do some ministries encourage others to give money to them? Why don’t they just seed other ministries and wait to reap ten fold or one hundred fold in return? If the principle works, imagine how much money they would receive.

The biblical principle is that we are to give willingly from the heart but not as a method of getting rich or receiving more. The apostle Paul warns us in 1 Timothy 6:6-9 to not seek money. Instead we need to seek to be content with what God has already given us.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For  we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we  have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 1 Timothy 6:6-9 (NASB)

There is a great risk in giving money, time, or effort to someone or some organization that you do not really know and cannot watch. When a person gives to an organization or to missionaries he or she cannot see or observe week after week, there is a greater risk that they may be contributing to an individual who is a false teacher, immoral, or unbiblical in his activities. However, it is important to give to worthy missionaries in order that they may preach Christ to other cultures. With missionaries it is best to regularly communicate with them in order to know them and stay in touch with what they are doing. Here is the biblical principle, it is much easier to know whites happening in the ministry of your local church.

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (NASB) 1 Timothy 5:22

For they went out for the sake of  the Name,  accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to  support such men, so that we may  be fellow workers  with the truth. 3 John 7-8

Reference Links:

Tithing or Giving?
Happiness Is Giving Up Everything For Christ
Financial Assistance – Should We Help The Poor?