‘He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.’ - 2 Corinthians 9.10.

Through the challenges we’ve all faced over the last year, I have been so grateful for my garden. I’m a complete novice when it comes to gardening, so it’s been a rewarding experience planting seeds and watching them grow. Of course, being a novice means that some seeds were planted in the wrong place, or too late, leading to sunflowers blooming in the middle of October – but it was a joy to see so much colour and natural beauty grow and blossom, the fruit of my labour.

There is so much imagery of seeds and sowing in the Bible, and Paul’s writing is no exception – and in most, we see God as provider, the one who supplies the seed. We are reminded that all we have and all we are is gift, generously and extravagantly given from God. There is no transaction – God freely gives us our very being, breathing life into all things, and as a relational God continues to provide us with every blessing in abundance.

Here lies an important aspect of this passage – God not only provides, but also multiplies. It calls into question how we handle our resources – do we hold on to what we think of as ours, or do we embrace the idea of asking how much of God’s resources are we willing to keep? God cannot give us more if our hands are already full, but if we continue to offer ourselves and our resources to the service of others, God’s love overflows extravagantly in gifts and resources that he entrust in our care. It’s important to note that the increase in resources is for the benefit of the receiver – a truly generous church is one which receives in order to give away.

It’s worth reflecting briefly on material and spiritual gifts. The extravagant generosity of God is not limited to one form or the other – God chose to enter the material world and be born into it, and so material and spiritual things cannot be separated. And so we are given both material and spiritual gifts, each feeding into the other, seeds which are nurtured by God and overflow into love and mission. These gifts are expressions of God’s grace, revealed in each of our lives in the most ordinary of circumstances. God takes our ordinary and transforms it into something extraordinary as we bless others. On Mothering Sunday this year, some friends of mine went around our cul-de-sac community leaving a plant on each of our doorsteps – such a simple yet profound expression of love through their generosity. As part of our commitment as disciples we are called to discern these gifts, for each of us these will look different, and in joyful response allow them to overflow in the communities in which we are set.

Whenever I read Bible passages, I find it helpful to ask myself the question, ‘so what?’ What can I learn from this? What is the next step of the journey? In this passage, we begin with God supplying and multiplying seed, which moves into supplying bread, narrating the beginning and ending of harvesting. We see so clearly the abundant and extravagant generosity of God, with an equally clear call to action. ‘God will multiply your seed for sowing.’ We are called to sow our seed, to live Christ’s story of generosity through our own giving, in response to the extravagant generosity of God. God is generous with us so that we can be generous with others – God supplies our needs through the people around us. As we give, God gives us more, so that we can give more! There is such joy in this pattern of giving as we see the ripple effect of God’s blessings in our communities, just like the plant I received on Mothering Sunday, each giving to one another alternating as giver and receiver. As gracious receivers, we give someone else the gift of giving. It is in such giving that we grow in thanksgiving and trust in God, and become the grateful children of God that we are called to be.

There is one more step in our journey through this passage. Beyond the material, Paul teaches us that when we sow our seed – when we give of ourselves in any way – we increase the harvest of righteousness. Beautiful words. The beauty of generosity is that it is has no boundaries. When we give of ourselves in any way – in hospitality, in welcome, in material resources, in prayer, in love – we grow in the likeness of Christ. Righteousness is a quality of the character of God, in which we are nurtured through being made in his image. As we grow in generosity, we grow in Christ-likeness and grow in reflecting the extravagant, abundant nature of God to those around us.

God rejoices in this radical, sacrificial generosity, and rejoices to see us grow. How might we learn to let go of gifts in order to see God multiply them? And how might we each be extravagantly generous this week?