Hear what Jesus said to the Pharisees of his day:
Mark 7:9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”
Mark 7:13 “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
One of the effects of giving heed to the Religious Traditions of Men is that religious traditions, when emphasized, have an uncanny way of displacing the Word of God from men’s hearts. So if we are putting a lot of effort into doing things that God DOES NOT require of us, it follows that we will be UNABLE to do all that God DOES require from us. This is true in many areas of life, and our financial giving is no exception.
There are several “traditions of men” running around in Word of Faith/Full Gospel circles in regards to GIVING which run contrary to the Word of God, and if you believe these traditions, you will not only become a partner with someone who is teaching error. You will also fail to do what God wants from you.
God does want us to give. He wants us to be generous. And He gives us a very good idea of the kind of places he wants us to give to.
It is outside the scope of this article to deal with all the false teachings of greedy preachers, but I want to talk about one. This is the idea that you must sow your money into “good ground” by which it is usually meant – “people like me who have successfully become rich off donations from the people of God”. In this way of thinking, people who have NOT gotten rich off the people of God do not have a proven track record of FAITH. Giving to such “losers” will make you a loser like them, it is believed. This is because you will “waste your seed” if you sow in such “bad ground”. But if you give to the rich preachers – well, then you are just going to get caught up in the prosperity anointing that is on that great man or woman of God. Surely God has “raised them up”, as “the Lord’s anointed”, and their ministry represents “good ground”. By giving to the rich, it is believed, you are joining the winning team. And who doesn’t want to be on the winning team?
Is such thinking REALLY consistent with the New Testament? Is it consistent with the Wisdom of God? Let’s take a look at a few of the Scriptures to see what has been spoken to us by GOD
“He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.”
If you are one of the people who has bought into the idea that if you just give “tithes and offerings” to your favorite mega-church and your favorite prosperity preacher you will surely get rich, I need to warn you, on the authority of God’s Word, that you are promised POVERTY and NOT riches by the Word of God. That’s right – he who gives to the rich, WILL SURELY COME TO POVERTY.
Many of these rich preachers encourage the poor, the widows, the orphans, the single mothers and those out of work to give sacrificially TO THEM so that they, the poor, can get out of poverty. The rich preachers teach them in such a way that these poor people would believe that unless they DO give to the rich, they are really being disobedient to God, or that they have no faith. They are being led to believe really they MUST give. This is nothing but “oppressing the poor to increase one’s riches”. Those who “partner” with such rich oppressors of the poor will surely come to poverty, on both counts of what it is says in Proverbs 22:16. Maybe this is one reason why so many Christians are barely getting by.
There ARE promises of financial prosperity given in the Bible, but they are given to righteous people who give according to God’s Word. And God has told us who to give to.
In the first place, we are to give to poor Christians. Now I know we have to be careful about this, because many scammers come and try to get you to send money overseas. But as this financial crisis develops, it is going to be easier and easier to become aware of Christians who are suffering financially. We should give to them directly. Don’t think that if you just put money in the church offering it will “trickle down” to those who really need it. It won’t. Most church budgets are for keeping the infrastructure of the church paid for – the building, the maintenance of the building, staff salaries, electricity, sound systems, denominational dues and of course, the next big project that the pastor has in his vision. Its amazing how little church money gets into the hand’s of the poor. Cut out the middleman and give directly to them. Best is to give in secret, so that you can have an open reward from your Father in Heaven (God). See Matthew 6:1-5
Mat 6:1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Mat 6:2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
Mat 6:3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Mat 6:4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
Some big ministries tell you about all their giving on television, in order to get you to contribute money to them. Everyone now knows how great these people are. According to this Scripture, they have already received their reward – the earthly fame and approval of men. If you want to receive a reward from God, give secretly to those brethren in need. If you do, Jesus will never say to you, “I was hungry and you gave me NOTHING to eat” (Matthew 25:41-46).
1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1Jn 3:17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1Jn 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
It won’t be possible for us to hoard wealth and do the will of God at the same time. Not unless we are blind and deaf. Because we are going to see our brethren in need, and we are going to have to do something for them.
Gal 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Our Christian communities should be places where no one suffers any lack, because all have tremendous love for one another. God warns us about trying to substitute actual giving to our poor brethren for “words of faith”.
Jas 2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
Jas 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
Jas 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Speaking the “word of faith” alone over such a one does not make us people of faith, it makes us hypocrites who have not the love of God.
In these last days I don’t think it is possible to hoard wealth and please God at the same time. If you are a rich Christian, I would say to you in love – start downsizing. Start giving. People are perishing for want of the gospel you could bring to them, or the physical help you could give them. Don’t wait until you die to give, by putting something in your will. Start giving something now. Have the joy of giving while you are alive. Once you are dead, its not really yours anyway.
There are Promises for those who Give to the Poor
Pro 11:24 There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.
Pro 11:25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.
Psa 41:1 Blessed is he who considers the poor; The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
Psa 41:2 The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, And he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
Psa 41:3 The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed.
Mat 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
Mat 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
Mat 25:33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
Mat 25:36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
Mat 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
Mat 25:38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
Mat 25:39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
Mat 25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Pro 28:27 He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.
Pro 19:17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.
There are Promises also for those Who Give to the Gospel
Mat 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
Mar 10:29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,
Mar 10:30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mar 10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
If you give to get rich, you are not doing it for Jesus’ sake, or for the sake of the gospel. You are doing it for the sake of covetousness, for the sake of Mammon. In that case, the promise doesn’t apply to you. But if you are doing it FOR JESUS’ SAKE, and FOR THE GOSPEL, giving up all these things, then you will receive a hundredfold, and everlasting life. But please don’t do it if you don’t can’t handle any persecution, you are promised that also.
The other thing to note is this: Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Your reward for handling responsibility well is – MORE RESPONSIBILITY! As you receive your hundred fold, God will expect you to do perhaps a hundred times as much, according to His direction, of course. God’s strategy is always multiplication. And believe me, you will never run out of things God will give you to do with all that money, in serving the needs of others.
Folks, these promises are not given simply to people who give to the “church budget”, the budget for the legal entity registered with the Government. The “church budget” is not always for the poor, or for the gospel. It has to spend most of it on itself in order to keep the show on the road. Real estate, sound systems, insurance, utilities and staff all cost money. If you want to be part of a traditional church which needs a lot of money to run, its only fair that you contribue your fair share to the church budget. Some of that church budget also goes to the ones who teach the Word of God to you, and you ought to support them, the Bible commands you to do this (Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 9:14) – but make sure first of all you are giving to the poor, and giving to the gospel further afield.