Many people throughout history have whole-heartedly accepted the invitation to take from their possessions and share with those who have needs. They discovered that when they obeyed the admonition to give to others, they themselves somehow ended up better off.
For the man who uses well what he is given shall be given more, and he shall have abundance. (Matt. 25:29)
Of course, human nature has a way of putting a spin on a particular truth, and people end up dealing with half-truths. The problem with dealing with half-truths is that we almost always end up with the wrong half. The tendency is to conclude that since God’s principles are predictable, the circumstances and applied motives relating to the principles are open for manipulation. For situations such as that we need to be reminded of this truth:
Principle #4: God Always Repays When You Give . . . But You Don’t Give to Get
Several years ago we heard a lot about the gospel of prosperity and the theory of give to get. The deal was that if you wanted to become rich then all you had to do was to give a little to God and he would be obligated to make you wealthy and give to you the items on your wish list.
I listened to a fellow whose religious endeavor was in financial trouble. He quoted some of the references like, give and it shall be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. His proposition was for his listeners to quickly send him one hundred dollars in cash, check, or credit card and by the end of the year God would guarantee to give them back at least one thousand dollars, in cash, check or money order. It was a half-truth and his greed had promoted him to get hold of the wrong half.
Recently, I had to chuckle at the story dealing with even another religion. There was a nicely dressed man standing at a very busy intersection of our city. But he was not begging with a forlorn countenance. His hand-printed sign on a piece of cardboard box said that he was the intersection angel. He was there to collect your money. In exchange for your money he would guarantee to upgrade your Karma report. And people were handing him money like crazy! Charlatans need not to be much more removed from the truth than a few degrees. But they are removed, none-the-less.
In my reading assignment I ran across an interesting statement, “And who could ever offer to the Lord enough to induce him to act?” (Romans 11:35)
The simple answer to that question is no one. If God created everything and owns everything already, he cannot be bribed, manipulated, or blackmailed! We can count on the fact that God always repays when we give; that is a characteristic of his economic system. But the selfish motive of giving to get is not part of the deal. Like any other aspect of greed, the product received through selfishness will always be different from that which we had anticipated.
The true joy of giving begins when we can give to others in need and see them become better off, but expecting nothing in return.
Next Week: Subtracting Your Rights
(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)
© Dr. James W. Jackson
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