How Much Should I Give to God?
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2
Question: Is it true that the more you give to God, the more you get back personally? Which side of that question would you come down on? Yes or no? Has that been true in your personal life? Or, would you say, “Hey, churches and organizations use that line to get my money and build strong financial bases!” Question #2: Is there anything in the Bible—I mean in its context and rightly understood—that seems to convey that truth? Did not Jesus Himself say, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:37). Well, did He not mean what He said?
Before I answer this tough one, may I tell you about Don Phinney? He, for one, believed you can’t outgive the Lord. One day Don said, “I want you to come over to my house and see my books!” Don knew that I have a love for old, leather-bound books—especially when somebody like Martin Luther scribbles his name in the front of them. So when Don and I sat down in his kitchen, I expected him to go to the bookshelves and get some really old books. What he produced wasn’t what I had in mind. He went to the kitchen cupboard and brought out a financial ledger—almost four inches thick. Putting the financial ledger on the table, Don began, saying, “For 40 years I’ve kept books with God and I’ve proved you can’t outgive the Lord.” Turning to the front of the book, Don pointed out very neat columns of figures. “Here,” he said, “this was my income, and this is a record of my giving.” Then, going to the next set of figures, he said, “When I increased my giving, my income rose.”
Then he got to the real reason he had invited me to his home. At the time, I was Don’s pastor, and our church was filled with a lot of young couples with small children, and surviving financially was a higher priority with them than giving to the church. “Tell you what I want you to do,” Don continued, “I’d like you to challenge our people to tithe [give a tenth of their income] for a period of a year, and at the end of that time, if they can honestly say that God didn’t bless them for it, I’ll personally give them $1,000.”
With an offer like that, how can you lose? I communicated the challenge, and a considerable number of couples decided to take the challenge. What happened? At the end of the year, we began comparing notes. Some said, “Sure enough. We had no sooner begun giving when we got a salary increase.” Other said, “No salary increase for us, but it was strange, we ended the year with money in the bank—something that has never happened to us before.” Others commented, “Our old car ran great. Never broke down at all, and before we were always taking it to the shop for repairs.” Some mothers reviewed the year, saying, “Almost every year we’ve ended up spending a lot on doctors and trips to the emergency room of our hospital, but this year, we didn’t have any broken bones and our kids were amazingly healthy.”
For three years running, I made that offer, and no one stepped forward to claim the refund which Don Phinney would gladly have provided—no questions asked. Honestly, churches would do us a great disservice without bringing us into confrontation with what God says about our resources and our giving. It is we who would be losers, not the church. Jesus was right, but sometimes the blessing comes in the currency of heaven.
Resource reading: Psalm 1.