The Opportunity

“The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:6-10

Pauls’ statement begins with what appears to be a derailed remark that has jumped the track from a train of thought dealing with self-examination and losing heart. Closer examination reveals that sharing and bearing fruit are closely related. Those who sow The Spirit will reap eternal life in Heaven, and they exhibit a generous life on earth.

“The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.” V. 6

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am an itinerant minister who depends on the generosity of the people of faith to respond to my teaching with a spirit of generosity. I was raised in the home of a pastor-evangelist, and church-planting missionary for the first 22 years of my life. I followed in the footsteps of my father, by responding to God’s call on my life to be a minister of The Gospel. From 1972-2014, I have seen God meet the needs of our family. Everything I have in my possession is a result of God’s children releasing their grasp on what The Father has given to them and passing it on to me. I have been an undeserving, but grateful beneficiary of the generosity of those willing “to share all good things with the one who teaches…” After 64 years of experience, I can say with a great deal of authority, “There is simply nothing like the joy of living by faith.”

Paul reminded the Galatian believers to share in meeting the very real financial and physical needs of those who taught them. Those who make excuses for not doing this are the ones who miss The Opportunity. The Opportunity to give is not meant to be a draining of one’s assets. It is God’s way of bringing blessing to the giver of the gift, and the receiver of it. Don’t take my word for it. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus

Those who are proponents of the “Give to Get” School of Finance, usually over-state their case, but rarely forget to ask those who take their course to make the check out in their name. Paul’s teaching on the subject of giving had more to do with giving than getting, but there is no doubt about it, with sowing comes reaping.

Three things about reaping ought to be kept in mind, by those who have a tendency to miss out on The Opportunity to give.

1. You reap what you sow.
2. You reap later than you sow.
3. You reap more than you sow.

In the fall of 1975, I heard a country preacher in Marble Falls, Texas address a group of pastors at a Baptist Associational Evangelism Rally at the First Baptist Church. He had been given the dubious honor on the program of taking the offering. Lifting an offering from preachers makes getting blood out of a turnip look like child’s play. This guy was a seasoned veteran.

To say that preachers are notoriously tight with their money is a bit of an overstatement, but not by much. In the 1960’s when the Southern Baptist Convention ventured across the Mason Dixon line, and held their annual meeting in a northern city, the newspapers reported, “The Southern Baptists came to town with a $50 bill and The Ten Commandments, and never broke either one.” But I digress.

Back to Marble Falls, the preacher taking the offering said to his peers, “You shovel out. God shovels in. God’s shovel is bigger than yours. Let’s pray.” He called for the ushers to take the offering, while the musician presented the “Special Music.” It was a solo of “Amazing Grace” played on a handsaw. There wasn’t a closed wallet or a dry eye in the place. You can’t make this stuff up, and I miss it more than I am willing to admit.

The Opportunity to give always seems to be offered in the face of a prevailing wind. Those who pray for renewed faith to give, often sail into powerful gusts of The Flesh. Rather than selfishly holding onto what God has given to them, they pray. This kind of prayer is called importunity and it is the key to seizing The Opportunity. It takes giving seriously enough to cry out to God to replace what He calls for them to give to others. Prayer warriors learn that The Father’s storehouses are never depleted, and that it is simply impossible to out-give God.

Paul encouraged the early church to give to those who taught them. His ministry had been an itinerant one, and it had landed him in chains next to a Roman soldier. Unable to come to Galatia, Paul urged them to meet the needs of those who took his place. Generously giving to those who teach the word has always been a vital sign of a healthy church.

Pastors must lead their people to give generously to those who teach the word. Many do this so reluctantly that the offering taken for a guest preacher or missionary is the best-kept secret in the church. Wise pastors don’t fear calling on people to give to someone else. Teaching people to be generous in giving to others who teach the word won’t deplete the local church of anything but selfishness.

Sowing to The Flesh involves yielding to selfishness. Sowing to The Spirit results in bearing of fruit. The bearing of fruit is the result of sowing the right seed, and being connected to the right root. Those who “Give to Get” miss The Opportunity to give with the right motive. Those who give an offering of love will find out that they develop a taste for it. They no longer are satisfied with “Give to Get.” They “Give to Get to Give” over and over again. Love is the DNA of The Spirit.

“The fruit of The Spirit is love.” Galatians 5:22-23

The Opportunity to give will be missed if excuses flow out a person’s mouth faster than God’s love grows in their heart. Being filled with The Spirit and being selfish is an unacceptable expression of the love of Christ. Those focused on giving that is merely reduced to a certain percentage need to be reminded of the words of Dr. Jack “Cactus Jack” McGorman.

“Jesus did not die by fractions on the cross.”

Paul’s admonition is also a warning. It is possible for The Opportunity to give to be missed. Along with the missing of The Opportunity is the loss of blessing. Seizing The Opportunity requires letting go of what is held onto with a selfish grip. Releasing a gift into God’s hand to use as He sees fit, without throwing a fit, reveals the DNA of The Spirit, not The Flesh. Prayer warriors seize The Opportunity, and love to give generously. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!

“… while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people especially to those who are of the household of faith.”