Question:

Sir,

My question stems from a statement made by a minister regarding how we ought to give to God. He said that if we give all the money in our bank account, we will not starve, God will find a way to provide for us. This statement troubled my heart because, in this part of the world, ministers are held in high regards as well as their utterances. Some brethren may act on this statement, giving all they have and expecting miraculous sustenance, which when not received may produce doubt and disbelief in God.

Thus, in this case, how can one handle this? Should we give all we have like the poor widow did? Or keep some to take care of our self and family so as not to be seen as an infidel?

Answer:

"For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality -- at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality" (II Corinthians 8:12-14).

Giving is expected to come from a person's excess (or abundance). If a person gave away all that he had, then he would be in need and require others to help him. This is not God's intention. "He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need" (Ephesians 4:28).

Christians are required to support themselves (II Thessalonians 3:10-12) and to support those who are dependent on them. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (I Timothy 5:8).

Thus, in giving to the church, one does it from his prosperity (his excess). "On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come" (I Corinthians 16:2). God is not asking anyone to give what he does not have to give because he is obeying God's other commands.

Christians are urged to be generous and not worry about the future. Sometimes people hold back help because they might need the money in the future. But Paul told us, "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, 'He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.' Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God" (II Corinthians 9:6-11). What you have in excess to give came from God and if you use it to help in God's cause then God will see that you are repaid in the future.

However, this false preacher is urging people to put God to the test -- to purposely place themselves in poverty despite God's past generosity to them and see if God will restore their funds. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 to Satan, saying, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Matthew 4:7).

For further information on this topic, see The Great Giveaway

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