Summary: A balanced view of scripture concerning giving and receiving.
Let me make it clear. I have nothing against success or riches. I believe in tithing and giving to God’s work. I believe that God loves a cheerful giver and that you cannot outgive Him. My wife and I are not rich, but we’re not hurting either. God blessed us with jobs. He also gave us the drive to show up for work everyday and to upgrade our skills and education. I am very thankful and grateful for this. Whatever we have obtained is because we have been faithful stewards over God’s daily provision.
We have had times when we gave to fulfill a need and received an unexpected windfall. We thank God for this, but we didn’t continue giving just to reap additional benefits. We paid our tithes when things were tight, and looking back it’s hard to see how we got through those times, except that God honored our faithfulness and stretched our dollars further than we could ourselves.. I’ve never felt I had the right to demand a reward for giving.
However, I am very concerned when I see the gospel mixed with the prosperity message. The gospel is defined in Luke 24:46-47.
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
I am very concerned when people can be moved more by the preaching of prosperity than the preaching of the cross. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing I am going to preach is Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Cor. 2:2).
I’ve heard it said that "God wants you rich!" When I hear this preached, I never hear these verses:
1 Timothy 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Proverbs 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
John 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Scripture abounds with contrast between the temporal things of this world and our eternal inheritance with Jesus in heaven.
Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I’ve heard it preached that I could demand God’s blessing because I’ve been faithful in paying tithes, and yet Jesus instructed that we were to take no thought about tomorrow. The Father knows what we have need of and it is His good pleasure to give these things to us.
In Luke 12:13 a man intercedes with Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. Jesus replied in vs. 15:
...Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Jesus then proceeded to give the parable of the rich fool. He’s the one who said in vs.18-19:
... This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
God had an answer for him:
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Jesus used this man as our example in vs. 21.
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Jesus concluded by saying, "...Therefore I say unto you" (When you come to the word "therefore" back up and see what "therefore" is there for. - In other words, always consider the context of scripture.)
In verses 22-31 Jesus told us to, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment."