Are Tithing and Sowing Seeds the Same?

IN THIS EPISODE of The Tithing Hoax podcast, I address a question by one of our visitors:  Are tithing and sowing seeds the same thing?

The phrase “sowing seeds” is use often in the church, especially among Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith preachers.  When they use the phrase, they are referring to you giving money to their ministry.  When they talk about tithing, they are also referring to you giving money to their ministry.

What does the Bible say about sowing seeds and tithing?  Are they the same?  Are preachers in error when they tell you to sow seeds?  Is sowing seeds replacing the practice to so-called tithing?  Why is there so much emphasis placed on sowing seeds (i.e., giving your money to a preacher, church or ministry)?

Let’s talk about what the church doesn’t want you to talk about.

In today’s church, tithing and sowing seeds both refer to money.  However, the Bible does not equate tithing and sowing seeds with money.  Accordingding to the Bible, tithing, sowing seeds and money are not the same.

The Tithe

The word tithe means 10 percent.  The biblical tithe refers to 10 percent of agricultural produce and livestock grown in the land of ancient Israel.  When preachers tell you that tithing means you should give money, they are incorrect.

Sowing Seeds

The word “seed” and “sowing seeds” are often used to refer to money, especially in the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith movements.

The Bible speaks of seeds or sowing seeds in two ways.  First, the word “seed” or phrase “sowing seeds” is a reference to farming or agriculture.  Specifically, planting seeds in the ground for the purpose growing food, plants, trees, flowers, etc. (Genesis 1:11).

Second, the phrase “sowing seeds” is used as a metaphor.  A metaphor is a figure of speech used to compare two unlike things that actually have something in common.

Examples of metaphors:

  • Life is like a box of chocolates
  • Skin like silk

Jesus and Sowing Seeds

Jesus uses “seed” and “sowing seeds” as a metaphor in his Seed Parable (Matt. 13:1-58, Mark 4:2-41).  Is Jesus talking about money?  Absolutely not.  See Luke 8:11.

  • Seed is a metaphor for the Word of God
  • Sow is a metaphor for sharing, speaking and/or teaching the Word of God
  • Ground/soil is a metaphor for the heart

Jesus never uses the words “sowing seeds” as a metaphor for giving money.  For a detailed teaching on the Seed Parable, please read Exposing the Seed Faith Doctrine.

Preachers and Sowing Seeds

Many preachers commonly use “sowing seeds” as a metaphor for money.  They are not wrong to use it as metaphor for money.  Sowing seeds may be used as a metaphor for anything.  For example, a seed can be wisdom, encouragement, gratitude, or a compliment.  In other words, you can sow a seed of wisdom, encouragement, gratitude into someone’s life.

The problem with preachers constantly associating sowing seeds with money is that it leads you to believe the Bible is always referring money when you see the word “seed” or “sowing seeds” in the scriptures.  Generally speaking, the Bible does not use seed or sowing seeds as a metaphor for money.

Summary

Are tithing and swing seeds the same?  No.  The tithe is 10 percent of agricultural products and livestock grown in the land of ancient Israel.  The Bibles uses the words seed and sowing seeds in the literal sense and as a metaphor.  In the literal sense, a biblical seed is the seed that is planted in the ground and produces fruits, vegetables, plants, trees and flowers.  As a metaphor, Jesus uses sowing seeds as a reference for spreading the Word of God.

Sowing seeds can be used as metaphor for money or anything else, including gratitude, wisdom, encouragement, etc.  In general, the Bible is not referring to money when it speaks of the seed or sowing seeds.  However, that’s how many preachers are using the phrase sowing of seeds as a reference to you giving money to their ministry and/or church.  Keep in mind, even though the preachers use it as a metaphor for money, it doesn’t mean that’s how the bible is using the words.

Resources

Free Tithe Study Guide

The Tithing Hoax

2 comments for “Are Tithing and Sowing Seeds the Same?

  1. kathy
    October 29, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    I agree with you that many prosperity gospel pastors misuse the “sowing seeds” metaphor, but I think they get it from 2 Corinthians 9:6 – “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” where the metaphor IS being used in the context of Paul talking about giving money. But I think they misinterpret what he means by reaping – what we reap isn’t more money back from God, it’s spiritual blessings.

    • R. Renee
      November 15, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      Yes. Thank you for sharing your comments.

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