In this final article on Paul’s Prosperity Plan I want to emphasize an illustration he employs in Philippians 4:17, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit” (ESV). Notice the word “fruit”, the part of the plant that contains its seed. That fruit abounds or increases to the account or credit of the one that sows the seed.
This is a principle. We not only give but we receive; there is a seedtime and a harvest. We are not dependent on outward circumstances — we are poised and balanced in Christ. No credit squeeze or tightening of monetary policy should affect any believer. The economy will cycle through ups and downs constantly, but your circumstances are dependent on your believing of the integrity of God’s Word.
This illustration of fruit is from nature. The best way that fruit can abound and continue to benefit us is not by swallowing the apple whole, but by getting the seed of that apple, planting it, and encouraging it to increase. Every seed has a small shoot ready to sprout, usually tucked into one end of it, and at the other end is another shoot that will become the root. In between is the endosperm containing food for its initial growth. There is often a hard case or shell to protect the seed until the moisture and warmth levels are right for that particular species.
However, one thing is certain. The seed will not sprout until it is sown in the ground. As Jesus reminded his listeners, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [a single grain]; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Its only hope is to do what it was designed to do — to send out two shoots, one for leaves and the other for roots, and grow into a healthy plant that produces more seed. Without sowing there is no reaping, without seedtime there is no harvest.
The Philippian believers had sown some seed into Paul’s traveling ministry and Paul is reminding them that his emphasis is not on receiving another gift but rather that they experience the joy of recognizing the harvest hidden within the fruit. “You can count the apples on the tree, but who can count the apples in a seed?”, as the old saying goes. By the eyes of faith, “calling those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17), you need to see that the harvest is yours and it is sure. “Seedtime and harvest… shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
So Paul’s Prosperity Plan is for you to take the first step of sowing some seed, standing firm on the integrity of God’s Word, and accepting the harvest for His glory. “For we are God’s fellow-workers” (I Corinthians 3:9).