Jesus said that if we give, it would be given to us:
Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap, For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you again.Luke 6:38
This means the person who is generous and gives will be trusted by God with more. God will give to this person in the same proportion he gives. Often He will use people to deliver this return to us.
This is not limited to money. It can include anything God has entrusted to our care. In short, the doctrine that God gives to the giver is 100% true.
Here comes a big but. We’re talking elephant butt here.
The doctrine that we can manipulate God through our giving is 100% false.
Nonetheless, in many churches and ministries this manipulation is preached in a way that inspires false and presumptuous hope. The new, carnal, or false Christian is convinced that his giving obligates God to respond in kind.
If I give God money, God owes me money–and on my time.
When you believe you have that kind of leverage over Almighty God, it can lead to presumptuous
However, there are many who won’t go so far as to say God owes them money. This is too obviously foolish. They instead offer logic that says, “When I give, I am tapping into God’s law of giving and receiving (i.e., I give and He gives back to me.).
On the surface there is nothing wrong with the above statement. It is true that when we give, God gives back to us. But there are things about giving and return on giving that must be clarified.
Give And It Shall Be Given Unto You Is Not A Law
Money preachers love to say this or that is a law. This appeals to them and their followers because it takes the sovereignty of God out of the equation. You don’t have to worry about God interfering with your plans if you’re dealing with a law and not God. Simply put the law in motion and done deal!
Yet I agree that there is such a thing as a biblical law. For instance, the Bible talks about the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). What is this law?
It’s the absolute certainty that sin produces death every time. Every single person who has ever sinned died spiritually. Thus, the need to go to Christ for new life.
Even so, the law of sin and death, being the primary and most famous law of the Bible, is not a self-originating and independent law unto itself. It does not act outside of God. It is instead an expression of God. So, it would be an error to think one can interact with this law without interacting with God.
Similarly, it is an error to think one can interact with any so-called law of God and not interact with God Himself. There simply is no way to live within God’s creation and not directly interact with the Creator. This is irrespective of whether one understands that God “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).
All things include the natural and spiritual laws.
God Sovereignly Overrules Give And It Shall Be Given Unto You
If God overrules the law of gravity, it is an event so out of the ordinary it is called a miracle. If God overrules the so-called law of giving it is not a miracle. It is not spectacular. It is not even unexpected. Why? It is because several conditional disqualifiers are built into the act of giving that can, and routinely does, prevent the expected return.
We’ll discuss some of those disqualifiers. But, first, let’s discuss the absence of conditional disqualifiers for the law of gravity.
Can you think of a single condition that will prevent gravity from pulling you to the ground if you jump out a second-story window? There aren’t any. That’s why gravity is a law.
It works every single time.
Give And It Shall Be Given Unto You Does Not Behave Like Gravity
By now, you should see why I call the way opportunistic fundraisers use Luke 6:38 a heresy. It’s a deliberate mixture of truth and error. Yes, God gives to those who give; but no, not always.
First, It Is God Who Determines Whether Our Offering Is Acceptable
We don’t have to go far in the Bible to see this truth. Do you recall that Cain killed his brother, Abel, because God accepted Abel’s offering, but not his own (Genesis 4:1-7)?
That same truth is foundational to the entire sacrifice system under the law of Moses. Their sacrifices were not automatically accepted by God:
But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly? says the Lord of hosts.
…I am not pleased with you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from you.Malachi 1:8, 10
Let’s connect some dots.
If the person is rejected by God, the offering is rejected by God. If the offering is rejected by God, our whole basis of getting a return is gone. If the basis for getting a return is gone, how can we legitimately call “give and it shall be given unto you” a law?
Laws work every time. Yet the return on giving clearly doesn’t work every time. Time to adjust our theology to match the Bible.
“Give and it shall be given unto you” is not a law.
Second, There Are Things That Make Our Gifts Unacceptable
What may disqualify a gift? Several things.
- Did you give for the praise of man:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 6:1
Before you answer no, give it some thought. Are you in a ministry that recognizes you for your giving? Or one that will allow you to serve in an official capacity only if you tithe or give a certain amount? Be careful that this impure environment has not led you to give with the thought of being seen by the right people.
2. Did you give reluctantly?
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’2 Corinthians 9:7, NLT
Did you decide what to give? Or did someone decide it for you? This includes the ten percent church tax extorted in the name of the man-made money tithe system.
Perhaps you were told the money tithe belongs to God, and you actually don’t give until you exceed the ten percent church tax. That’s an increased artificial burden created by the church. But since that’s the way it is, let’s deal with that environment.
Is there any reluctance on your part as you give according to these rules?
Fat cats can give and not suffer financial repercussions. So they may not have any reluctance when they give. But those on the lower end of the financial spectrum may find there’s an element of reluctance when they give.
Ironically, this may not indicate lack of love for the Lord. For their love of God may exceed that of the more affluent saint. What it could be is the person knowing deeply in his heart that he’s going to have a time financially after he gives the amount he’s being pressured to give.
This isn’t a lack of faith. It’s a lack of dishonesty. It’s giving with your eyes wide open.
Another Way People Are Pressured To Give
Now I’ll briefly mention another way Christians are pressured to give. This is when they are in a financial predicament, and they feel the only way out is a miracle. Often this person will give more than usual in the hopes of getting an emergency return on their giving.
This type of giving even has its own name. It’s called the “sowing in famine” method.
I won’t categorically say God will not give them a miracle. I will say, however, that if a miracle is granted this person, it is due more to God’s mercy and goodness than for the manipulative power of the desperate giving of someone in need of a miracle.
God Will Judge the Acceptability of the Reluctant or Pressured Gift
There are enough nuances to giving with reluctance and giving because of pressure that it would be wise to leave the final judgment to God. Sometimes beneath the error there is a pure soul who wants to do the right thing.
I do feel, however, that it is appropriate to warn you that there is a such thing as a gift being rejected by God due to it being given reluctantly or because of pressure.
3. Did you give out of fear?
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into my storehouse, that there may be food in My house…Malachi 3:8-10
My goodness, who has not heard these verses during the offering? Ministers have abused these Scriptures and the people of God with these Scriptures for the past 150 years.1 They regularly raise funds by placing the people of God under the terrifying and cruel bondage of a man-made version of the Old Testament Jewish tithing system.
Are you afraid that if you don’t pay this church tax that “you are cursed with a curse?” I will say to this what I said about giving reluctantly and giving under pressure. God will have to sort out the acceptability of money extorted from His people, and whether the payor can expect a divine return on these payments.
I will say, however, that there is such a thing as a gift given with the motivation of fear being not acceptable to God. For is a gift given under the threat of a curse really a gift?
4. Did you give to make up for the sin you’re living in?
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?Isaiah 59:6-7
Read the entire chapter to get the full effect.
God asked the accusing questions of His people because they were trying to cover their evil with acts of outward righteousness. This is a timeless and extremely popular practice of God’s people.
Are you practicing sin while you give gifts to God? If so, you need to know that no gift takes the place of obedience. In another place, God says, “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). Turn from your sins, then your gifts will be acceptable to Go.
If you answered yes to any of these, your offering was probably rejected by God!2
Third, It Is God Who Determines When And How He Will Repay Our Giving
It is foolishness to think we can tell God when to pay us back. Wait a minute. Pay us back?
Or who has first given to God anything that he might be paid back or that he could claim a recompense?Romans 11:35, Amplified
There are many who believe they can declare by faith when God will act on their behalf. Let me state carefully that there is a such thing as walking so closely to God that you know His mind, and can speak “at times” with boldness and confidence that God will do a thing.
However, this confidence is not the afterbirth of arrogance, ignorance, or presumption. It’s the result of being madly in love with Jesus Christ, of devouring His Word, of spending much time in prayer, of crucifying your flesh, of placing His interests above your own, and of walking before Him in fear and trembling.
But what of the covetous or superficial Christian who gives to God and believes this gives him a right to declare when God will give him a return?
Hear me clearly: God is not obligated to save your home from foreclosure. God is not obligated to pay your bills. God is not obligated to solve your emergency exactly the way you want Him to do it.
Let this sink deeply into your heart: God is not obligated to do anything for you–no matter what you think you have done for Him.
If God blesses you, He does so because He wants to, not because He has to. It wasn’t your giving that forced His hand—you can’t force the hand of an Almighty God. It was His goodness.
You must understand that when God tells you to do something, and promises to bless you for doing it, He is not becoming giving you leverage over Him. He is simply allowing you to take part in His plan.
So what shall we do with this doctrine of giving and receiving?
Continue to give. Give generously. But be sure to give with a pure heart. Don’t give grudgingly. Don’t be pressured into giving by the manipulations of tricky preachers. Don’t try to manipulate Almighty God with your giving. Give knowing that in God’s own timing, and in His own way He will reward your faithfulness.
- Hudnut-Beumler, J. (2007). In Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism. The University of North Carolina Press. This scholarly work provides a fascinating look at the introduction and progression of the financial tithing system in America.
Eric has written a bunch of books: fiction and non-fiction. Check them out here.
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