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Service and Sacrifice

Not raised in an entrepreneurial family, I was surprised when my father-in-law told me that "You have to spend money to make money."  As a young married man, I thought that cutting budgets and limiting risk were the keys to financial stability.  I greatly benefitted from his advice to enjoy life a little more and to stretch out a little farther by investing in a small piece of land near west Austin that turned out pretty well.

Hard-charging business people understand that "You have to spend money to make money."  The rule of "Location-Location-Location" warns that bargain retail space in the backside of nowhere might come cheep, but that few customers will come by - better to spend more on a more visible location in a higher traffic area.  Similarly, advertising might at first seem a painful, pointless expense - until increased exposure brings in more paying customers.

Even outside of business, most people learn that "You have to spend money to make money" - in other words.  In friendships and in romantic relationships "You have to give love to get love" - a lesson lost on dried-up love misers who prefer isolation to involvement.   On fishing trips, a bait or two is lost as "The price of doing business" because the big ones hide in tangled waters.  Instead of being limited to high finance, "The Risk-Reward Ratio" governs almost every aspect of life.  Not limited to Western culture, this fundamental life principle is expressed in Eastern culture as the ying and yang of Karma in which a person's actions determine their fate.

II Corinthians 9:6

These earthy examples from business, fishing trips and friendship illustrate the eternal principle found in II Corinthians 9:6: "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."

So often does scripture mention sowing and reaping that a phrase has been coined.  Some refer to "The Law of Sowing and Reaping."  This law, physically established in Genesis 1 when God created seed that produces only after its own kind, is spiritually reaffirmed in two passages; (i) The Parable of the Sower (Mt. 13:1-23), and (ii) Galatians 6:7-8.

  • "A sower went out to sow...seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, somea hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears,let him hear."
  • "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, forwhatever one sows that shall he also reap."

Sowing Generously, Serving Generously

Lifestyle, personality and core values are often at issue.  Who are we?  What do we do?  What do we say about ourselves to ourselves and to others when we do (or don't do) what we do? 

Guidance for answers to these questions comes from II Corinthians 9:6: "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (KJV).  Or, "He who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings" (AMP).

Dried-up love misers are the counterpoint.  All of us can think of examples.  Unwilling or unable to accommodate other people, they become hermits and worse.  Detached and isolated, like a dying vine, they wither.  Satisfied to give nothing, they get nothing in return.

Christ is the point.  Predicting  his Crucifixion, he said, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15:13).  Exemplifying this verse to the fullest, service was His life and sacrifice was His death.

Conclusion

Service and sacrifice define Christianity.  We should always seek to serve more and to sacrifice more.  As Paul said, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1).  Explaining Romans 12:1, John Gill wrote,

The allusion is to the rite of sacrificing, to the bringing of the slain beast, and laying it on the altar, and there presenting and offering it to the Lord. Under the Gospel dispensation all believers are priests; and the sacrifices they bring are not the bodies of slain beasts, but their whole selves.