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You can’t out-give God?

November 28, 2011

In my last post I looked at how Malachi has been mis-interpreted to tell us that if we give (specifically tithe) we will find God gives back to us:

There are a couple of new testament passages that seem to support this, and also often get quoted, so lets look at what they say.

Luke 6 ( v38 says “Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over” it couldn’t be clearer right? but look at the context. this is a passage where Jesus is talking about how we treat our enemies, and specifically how we judge other people. It is not about money and possessions. It IS all about our ATTITUDE.

If we give someone who has wronged us the “benefit of the doubt”, a “second chance” – or even better simply forgive them! Then we will be given the same by others. As Jesus puts it “blessed are those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy” So we can’t take that verse to support a “Give to God and he will give to you” theology!

2 Corinthians 9 on the other hand is quite clearly talking about giving. Paul is writing to the Corinthian church to get them to give to the Christians in Jerusalem. As part of his argument/appeal he tells them that they should give generously and cheerfully and then they will be “made rich in every way” (v11). Seem clear!

But again look at the whole passage, 1. Paul tells his readers they will be made rich “so that they can be generous on every occasion”. In other words God says if you can be trusted to give money away – I can trust you with more simply because I know you will give that away too!

and 2. Paul acknowledges that the Macedonians (who he uses as an example) “gave beyond their means” the implication is that they went without, just as Jesus has done when he lived as a poor, homeless, traveller with his disciples, and just as Paul himself had so often done “often in need”

So principle two of New Testament giving is:

We are encouraged to give freely, but not promised any repayment!

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