by Paul Benson
Right and Wrong Giving
…and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want. Proverbs 22:16
Here’s a Bible verse on giving I doubt you have ever heard the ‘prosperity teachers’ quote to you; and you probably never will! Verses such as this are anathema to them. They hope you never come across them because they might cause you to question their teachings. There is one false teaching constantly coming at us from these wealthy ministers of the ‘faith movement’. If you will sow into their ministry God will (so they say) give you a hundred fold return. But is this true?
Be Careful How You Give
God promises no such return on your investment; just the opposite in fact. This verse says giving to the rich will bring poverty upon you! Give that some thought; do you want your giving to bring poverty your way? Better take heed! Jesus did not say give your money to rich ministers so you can help them carry on in an extravagant life-style. He said give to those of whom you have no hope of recompense.
…when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:13-14
All giving is not necessarily sanctified in God’s eyes. There is such a thing as unrighteous giving. Giving to get! Listening to the lies of the T.V. preachers and the traveling seminar speakers we are taught to believe: “If I give my favorite Celebrity Minister one thousand dollars then God will increase that one hundred fold and give it back to me! Then I’ll be prosperous just like he/she is!” That’s not charitable giving; it’s covetousness and it is sinful. Yes, it is selfish and sinful to give for those reasons.
Seed-Time And Harvest
Let me make an observation here about the teaching of seed-time and harvest. Yes, it is a biblical principle and you do have to plant seed to get a harvest, but any farmer would tell you that if you want to reap a harvest you better sow your seed in good soil. If you think the covetousness producing teachings of the faith/prosperity movement are from God, and these ministries are good soil to sow in, you need to get before the Lord and ask Him to clear your vision.
If your giving centers around a hope that doing so will bring prosperity into your life here on earth then you have allowed your belief system to be corrupted by teachings which pervert the Scriptures. God will take care of us and provide for us; but it will be through our faith in Him fulfilling the promises of His Word as we conform to His expectation, not because we give to get!
False Workers Plant Bad Seed
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-8
In dealing with these false teachers, and making the needful corrections, Paul makes some pretty remarkable statements here in this passage from Galatians:
- False teachings can remove you from your position in Christ. Paul spends 5 chapters laying out the true gospel to them as a standard and then wham! He hits them with the statement that those carried away by the error of those false teachers had actually fallen from grace! Galatians 5:4 (I know that is contrary to what many of you have been taught, but it’s pretty plainly stated here. Could someone who Christ has become of no effect to still be in a state of righteousness? Would Paul travail in birth again for someone who was still in a born-again state? We’ll deal with the notion of eternal security in another writing)
- These false teachers did not bring an entirely new Gospel, but one which was a perversion of the truth. We need to understand that the false gospel is not an entirely different message; but a twisted and corrupted version of the genuine, and can sound quite similar to those lacking Bible knowledge and discernment.
- And finally we learn from this exhortation of Paul that those who pervert the Gospel as these had are under a curse for it. And to bring that point home he said it a second time. This is the seriousness of being led away by error. It can damn your soul for all eternity. I realize this as true and it is one of the reasons I place so much focus on exposing error.
A Hybrid Seed
Most of the teachings of the faith/prosperity movement have a measure of truth to them but lack the full council of God; and without the balance of the rest of the Word they now become falsehood. Many people have grown discouraged in their faith because they followed unbalanced teachings that did not produce the results they were looking for.
They were manipulated through the words of covetous preachers into adopting a covetous mentality of their own; but eventually the lack of return on their ‘investment’ began to sour them on these teachings. And then the teachers told them they just needed to hold on a little longer because, “You can’t plant a seed and expect fruit overnight; water it some more and be patient. Keep sending us your money; God will not fail you!”
They keep milking the poor folks until finally they just give up altogether. But that’s okay because they’ll soon have some other family conned into taking their place. (Hurry now, plant your seed! You’ll get a big harvest!) Of course the promised blessing did not come. God does not bless selfishness in giving any more than He would bless selfishness in any other area of life. If God blesses people who listen to prosperity preachers it’s him honoring their faith in other areas, not because they are being deceived.
Planting Good Seed In Good Soil
If you want to be pleasing to the Lord in your giving a real safe bet is to give to someone having a hard time. And try to do it in secret as much as possible. Again, just like with prayer and fasting, it’s not always possible to be completely anonymous in giving; but God is able to discern between selfishness and selflessness in the motivation of your heart and bless you accordingly.
Now that we have taken a good look at the wayward message of the false teachers, let’s look at what the Bible really does teach on God’s promise to bless and provide for his people. (We’ll finish this up in the next post.)