When you hear from TV or radio evangelists in their health and wealth gospel, to just send in your donation and you‘ll reap a financial harvest, they are not getting this from the Bible. Some of these evangelists say that money is talked more about than heaven and hell and this is true. But the thing is they fail to tell you the whole story. That is when money is mentioned by Jesus Himself or by Paul, it was absolutely not about being rich or getting a financial harvest or that God wants you to drive a Cadillac. I heard a TV evangelist once say that if Jesus were here on the earth, He’d probably drive a Mercedes Benz! This could not be more wrong. The many times money is talked about it is talked about in respect to giving it away, not accumulating it, where rust and moths can destroy. Conversely, Jesus said do not pile up riches for yourself (Matt 6:19)!
Jesus divested Himself of the wealth of the entire whole of the universe so that He could become poor for the Gospel’s sake, or for our sake. As Paul puts it, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). But not rich in money or a quid pro quo for giving “seeds of faith”. This is a barter system and there is not cheerfulness in the giving, but only an expectant return on it. God’s grace is the riches that Jesus meant in abounding to us in every good work of giving (2 Cor. 9:8). You become rich in Him, through His poverty. This is the polar opposite of what many “wealth and prosperity” messages that are blatantly espoused to viewers so that they might receive your donations. Guess who is the one who is getting rich? Them, not you!
When we give away to the poor, or to the local church, or to fiscally responsible charities, we are helping, in effect, to expand the Kingdom of God. This is because the church gives to the poor, to widows, to Gospel tracts to share the Good News of salvation and charities like Feed the Children (A+ rating) do what Jesus wanted us to do to the least of these (Matt 25:35-36). The heavenly riches in eternity are going to far outweigh anything and everything on the earth that it can not even be calculated. Not all of the gold or the silver or the money in the word, or even in the known universe, is worth eternal life and an eternity in joy and the joy of giving. This is absolutely priceless, yet ironically it is offered free (John 3:16). And so His inheritance becomes our priceless reward (1 Pet. 1:4).
In Jesus incarnation, He was born in the lowest of estates: in a barn, in a feeding trough (Luke 2). He carried no money bag, He had no place to lay His head or even call home (Luke 9:58) and He died in complete poverty, not even having the shirt on His back at His death. And Jesus had no concern for the needs of today or tomorrow for He knew that the Father always provided for His and the Disciples needs.
The Bible talks about being rich, yes, but more as a curse. If it talks about money, it is in the negative sense when you have too much. So the wealth-evangelists are dead wrong. The problem is that the rich learn to trust in their own money to buy them out of trouble, (Eccl. 7:12) and this also takes away their need of reliance or trust in God and in fact makes them have disregard for God altogether (Eccl. 18:11). So the many times TV or sometimes radio evangelists say, “Jesus talked more about money than anything else” was that He neither wanted us to be rich nor poor, lest we forget our God and have no regard for Him (30:7-9). This money-talk was not about accumulating it. If Jesus said it’s harder for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, this sounds like a warning for those who seek to store it up. He didn’t say it was impossible for the rich to get into heaven, just a lot harder.
Jesus wants our giving to be seen in terms of sowing and reaping, but the farmer has to wait a long time before he reaps. In the life of a Christian, this reaping is not, for the most part, until Christ’s Bema Judgment seat where they will receive their final reward for a job well done (2 Cor 9.6). The harvest of righteousness comes in eternity, not in an escrow tomorrow. This is not to say that God won’t bless the giver, for He will, but these blessings may come in many forms: A home, friends, family, a job, and yes, even money. But it does not mean untold wealth.
The truth is the Bible and Jesus never promises wealth in this life, but in the life to come (2 Cor. 9:10). He will bless the giver in this life for sure, and He will give us enough to help others too (2 Cor. 9:9-10). God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), but not one who gives grudgingly or for a monetary blessing in return.
According to the Barna Group, (2002), only 6% of born-again Protestant Christians tithe and this same group give less than 4% of their income goes to the church. I am not saying it’s a legal requirement necessarily, but Jesus never said the tithe is done away with. In fact Jesus and Paul mention the tithe at least eight times that I could find (Matt. 23:23, Luke 11:42, 18:10-14, John 12:5-6, Heb. 7:5,6, 8,9, etc.). Jesus, Peter, James, Luke, and Paul could have said that tithing is done away with, but this never mentioned in the New Testament. I understand that tithing is not going to get you into heaven or not tithing will keep you out, of course not. I am only saying that when Paul and Jesus mentioned it, they had the chance to say you don’t have to do it, and they did not.
The giver knows the joy of giving that the hoarder never feels. The one who accumulates money is always worried about it. They lose sleep over keeping it but the one who gives it way, sleeps in peace. Don’t rob yourself of the joy of giving. As hard as this is to accept in a secular world and that it defies logic, it’s not that you can’t afford to give…it’s that you can not afford not too.