Summary: Prosperity Gospel has degraded Christian Giving into a Barter system. Let us look at one of the biggest myths about giving. "
Giving, God’s way: Myths about Giving
Let me start with some simple statistics. A Gallop Poll of Church Members reported that 17% say that they tithe-- but only 3% actually do. 40% will give nothing in a year. Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation. Even in America, only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income.
We are studying the topic of “Giving, God’s way”, this month and we have already seen some aspects of it in the previous Sundays. We heard from Pastor Albert Davis about who should give. We heard from Bro George Ninan on how much should we give. So let us wrap up the series with looking at some myths about giving.
One of the biggest myths about giving is “God is pleased with anyone who gives”. Do you think this is true? Can mere giving get one to heaven? Can giving substitute faith? Is God really pleased with someone who only gives? Let us look at the Bible to see what the Bible tells us.
In the bible portion read out to us, we see the story of God testing King Saul by asking him to do something terrible. Of course, we might consider some of them as terrible things to do, but in God’s wisdom it is required to be done, and God might just have been testing Saul to see how obedient he is. We will see some similar instances elsewhere in the Bible too. God commands King Saul to go and destroy the Amalekites completely, leaving nothing behind. But King Saul decides to use his own wisdom and allows his men to keep some of the best of the plunder in the guise of sacrificing to the Lord. King Saul allows the Amalekite King also to live and takes him as a prisoner again in violation of God’s command to destroy everything. More interestingly, King Saul tries to hide the loot from Samuel. That is when Samuel says, 1 Samuel 15:14 (NKJV) "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" . Then Saul goes on to justify saying that his men kept some of the loot to “give” to the Lord.1 Samuel 15:15 (NKJV) "They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." It is interesting to note that Saul uses the term “your God”. I want us to ponder over this simple phrase for a moment. This is a simple phrase but with some profound implications. It can actually define our whole approach to giving. When it comes to giving, many have this tendency, of saying “your God”, “your church” etc. Anyone who uses the term “your God” is an unbeliever and is giving only because someone else asked them to. It could be the pastor or an elder who asked them to give, and they give because the pastor asked them. Thus it becomes giving to “the pastor’s god” or giving to “the pastor’s church”. In this case with King Saul, he was obviously doing it because the law required that. His use of the term “your God” indicates that he is giving not to his own personal God, but to Samuel’s God who gave the law through Moses. This is why the sacrifice that Saul offered is rejected by God. This sacrifice was done in disobedience, this sacrifice was being done merely as a duty, a compliance issue to the law, and not because the Lord was “my God” but was “your God”. This is when that pearl of wisdom comes through Samuel. 1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV) "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. ”
You would see this theme repeated in the bible multiple times Actually this happens much before the law about giving is given through Moses, this happens much before the time of Moses when the law was given. We see this right at the beginning when God differentiates between the offerings made by Cain and Abel. Genesis 4:3-5 (NKJV) And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” The actual reason for God’s non acceptance of Cain’s offering is revealed later in many parts of the scripture. Cain was a wicked man, partaking in the pleasures of the land, Abel is recorded in the Bible as a righteous man. Cain offered what was easily available to him without giving it much thought. Abel offered the choicest and the finest there was to offer. In short, Cain made the offering as a ritual, Abel made his offering in faith. God makes it clear that what he looks for is not ritualistic offering, but an offering made from the heart. Proverbs 15:8 (NKJV) tells us The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight. Isaiah 1:13 (NKJV) tells the faithless giver, Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.