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Monday, February 11, 2013 | Comments (7)

by John MacArthur

When you think about coming to church, what aspect do you look forward to the most?

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume your answer is something spiritually noble—nothing vain or selfish like wanting people to see you dressed in your finest clothes, showing off a new car, or trying to sell goods or services to friends at church. Instead, let’s assume the best—that whatever it is you look forward to most is somehow related to ministry.

Some people might say the teaching keeps them coming back each week. Others would say the music. For some believers, it might be the deep relationships with other Christians they find through their churches—relationships that they can’t cultivate elsewhere. Others might just appreciate the temporary relief from the pressures of life, work, and the world.

But let me suggest something to you: If we really understand Scripture—particularly some specific promises from Jesus—the thing you should look forward to the most is the offering.

God’s Word clearly teaches that our giving is actually a direct pipeline to His blessings. In fact, two simple statements from the Lord ought to make every Christian eager and thrilled for opportunities to give. If Scripture had nothing else to say about giving—if it was only these two promises from Christ—it should still be enough to compel us to line up and give generously, abundantly, and sacrificially.

The first of those promises is found in Luke 6:38, where Jesus told His followers, “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

If we want to receive from the Lord, we need to be willing to sacrifice. You’ll hear the apostle Paul echo the same sentiments in 2 Corinthians 9:6, where he writes, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” It’s a simple principle but one that we too often ignore: God is going to measure out His blessings to you in accord with what you’ve measured out in your giving. If you give a lot, you will receive a lot; as Scripture says, it will be “pressed down, shaken together, running over.”

The imagery Christ used in Luke—the idea of pouring blessing into our laps—comes from the ancient Middle Eastern grain market. People would go into the grain market to purchase, literally, a lap-full of grain. The loose material of their garments extended all the way to the ground and was belted at the waist with a sash. When they went into the grain market, they would simply pull up some of that garment, looping it through the sash to create a huge pocket. The grain would be dumped into the makeshift pouch, literally filling their laps (cf. Ruth 3:15).

This would have been an everyday experience for the crowd listening to Jesus in Luke 6, and they would have immediately understood the meaning of the illustration. The Lord wants to overflow your life with His blessings, and those blessings correspond to your own generosity—in fact, they’re triggered by it. Your giving is a direct route to the abundant blessings of God in your life.

There is a comforting reassurance in Christ’s illustration. Regardless of how much you give, you can’t outgive the Lord. You give and He is always faithful to give back more.

That gracious promise alone should drive us to be cheerful, generous givers, but Christ had more to say. In Acts 20:35, Luke attributes these words to Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

As abundant as God’s blessings are in our lives, what we give away results in even greater blessing. The concept is counterintuitive to our society’s mindset—we’re encouraged to accumulate and save as much as we can. But God’s Word is clear that believers are to avoid the love of money (Matthew 6:24, Hebrews 13:5), and this promise from Christ is consistent with those exhortations.

Greedily storing up wealth and resources limits their usefulness to your own selfish purposes. It’s far better to surrender them to the purposes of God and reap the tremendous blessings of being part of what He’s accomplishing in the lives of His people.

Faithful, sacrificial giving also knits you into the life of your church. In one simple act you’re helping support your pastor and the rest of your church’s staff, meet the needs of missionaries supported by your church, provide for the maintenance of your church building and other facilities, fulfill physical and financial needs within your congregation, and much more. And on top of all that, the Lord uses your support of ministries like Grace to You to reach people in your part of the world and beyond with the truth of Scripture.

That doesn’t mean we should recklessly give away everything—God’s Word clearly advocates wise management of your money (cf. Matthew 25:14-30). But if we’re going to store up treasure, we ought to store it “in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys” (Luke12:33). Give generously, and count on the Lord to be generous with you.


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#1  Posted by Bob Lewis  |  Monday, February 11, 2013at 3:13 AM

Hi John,

Thanks for your message on the Abundance of Giving. I have, through the years, frequently felt like a bit of a whacko concerning giving. I was kind of a "closet giver" in that I thought I should be going to church to hear the sermon, enjoy the music, have the fellowship of other believers, etc. all of which are important. Secretly though, I always looked forward to the giving.

I recently received a fairly significant raise in pay at my job. My friends and coworkers were full of suggestions as to what could be done with it. "Now you can replace that 13 year old car you drive". "Hey, time to move into the 21st century and get an HDTV". "Where are you going on your vacation?". Bless their hearts, they had lots of tips for me.

I accepted their congratulations and thanked them, but in my heart, I thanked the Lord that He allowed me the privilege of giving more back to help, in whatever way I could, to put this money to use as He would direct me. I was ecstatic that He would trust me to be a caretaker of His additional money.

I've never told anyone of my financial giving practices for a variety of reasons but to see John's message in print was like a breath of fresh air. The lightbulb was turned on for me.

Thank you John for assuring me that my attitude toward giving wasn't done to impress God, to "buy" His favor, to fulfill an inner elite smugness or any other ulterior motive. Thank you for pointing out that the sole joy of just being able to give back is, in itself, an acceptable and encouraged practice.

May the Lord continue to bless your ministry and your family, grow your congregation and influence your timely messages.

Yours in Christ,

Bob Lewis

#2  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Monday, February 11, 2013at 6:34 AM

Sobering words indeed. As I began reading, I thought the supposition was pointing toward spiritual worship and an abundant adoration of our Lord from the heart, which it does!

#3  Posted by Linda Rice  |  Monday, February 11, 2013at 1:22 PM

My family has benefited greatly from GCC, Master's College and Sem, GTY, etc. THANK YOU for those ministries!

Thank you also for this post. However, now I am confused. I recently studied Luke 6:37-38 and understood the context to be a Christian's response to maltreatment.

Don't judge; you won't be judged. Don't condemn; you won't be condemned. Pardon; you'll be pardoned. Give; it will be given. (The giving seems to be the weak to the persecutors.)

In context, wouldn't the category of giving be not money but mercy, forgiveness, and kindness in return for evil?

The persecuted would then respond like unbelievers do; they tend to give back in kind. So then, if we are generous with kindness, respect, mercy in return for evil, then those who persecute will be more likely to change and treat the persecuted more kindly.

Am I way off base?

Thank you again. I am abundantly grateful for the teaching I have received from John and others at GCC and associated ministries.

Linda

#4  Posted by Matt Lindbom  |  Monday, February 11, 2013at 7:14 PM

Linda, I'm also a little confused about this because I viewed this scripture as you do. I have been drove crazy lately by others using it, I thought incorrectly, but maybe I'm the one that has been looking at it incorrectly.

#5  Posted by Francois Du Plessis  |  Monday, February 11, 2013at 11:50 PM

We who trust God to supply our needs every day,must also give to God what is due to Him,besides it is not our money it was lent to us by the Lord.There is so much joy in giving,we do get back more than we deserve,i have accounted this in my years gone by.The more we give the more we shall receive from the Lord."One man gives freely,yet gains even more; another withholds unduly,but comes to poverty.Prov.11:24

May God Bless you Pastor John

#6  Posted by Bjuster Baarlik  |  Tuesday, February 12, 2013at 5:19 AM

I get the concept of giving. It indeed gives a lot of joy to be able to help people directly or indirectly through the giving of money. But reading this particular blog, I was reminded of the so called 'prosperity-preachers' we hear so much about today.

How is the prosperity-gospel different from what I read on today's blog? This is not meant as criticism, not at all, but I would like to find out how we do distinguish between the prosperity-gospel (who also uses the same Bible-verses) being preached and good Bible-based giving?

#8  Posted by Jeremiah Johnson  |  Tuesday, February 12, 2013at 3:01 PM

Linda, Matt, and Bjuster,

I appreciate your Berean spirit. John's explanation of Luke 6:38 is consistent with the theme repeated throughout Scripture that generosity goes hand-in-hand with prosperity. The same principle is at work in Proverbs 3:9-10, 11:24-25, 19:17, and 2 Corinthians 9:6-7. In the past, John has explained how these passages contradict and disprove the teachings of the Word Faith movement. You can read that short article here: https://www.gty.org/resources/bible-qna/BQ31011/expensive-blessings