It was my first semester in seminary. Kristie and I were already living hand to mouth, trusting in the Lord for his provisions. With Katelynn just born and Kylee on the way, we looked with hopeful anticipation for the provisional hand of the Lord. Yahweh-yireh, “the Lord will provide.” If the Lord wanted me there, he would have to daily open his hand to our needs. Truly, it was a wonderful experience that I would not wish upon anyone. Does that even make sense?

Our income consisted of four sources: 1) My part time job at the DTS Library. I shelved books. Not big pay. 2) My Indian scholarship ($2100 per semester). Yes, I am 1/8 Cherokee, believe it or not. 3) My family who gave what they could. 4) My home church. This is where the majority of our support came from, but it was very sporadic. Some months there would be nothing. Other months, people would give in abundance. Throughout this time, I tried to remain faithful in giving to the Lord. He was the one who provided and I was determined to exercise my Christianity in a way that gave me more opportunity to trust in him.

At one point we had gotten very far behind on many of the bills. We did not have any money to buy groceries. Things were not looking good. We prayed and prayed and then resorted to begging friends and family for a few more dollars. They did what they could. However, what they gave was not near enough to get our heads above water. Our bills were stacked up to just over $5000. At the end of our rope, salvation came through a $5000 check we got in the mail from just one donor at our home church. Just in the nick of time!

Take a detour with me for a moment. I have heard many Evangelical sermons on giving. I have listened to testimony after testimony from those who had prioritized the Lord in the tightest financial circumstances. I had read the passage about the “widow’s mite.” You know, the one where the lady was commended by Christ for giving her last two dollars to the Lord. I knew all the clichés: “I just keep shoveling out, but God has a bigger shovel!” Or, my favorite, “You can’t out-give God.” And, yes, how about our Evangelical go-to passage in Malachi 3:10: ” ‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'” Test the Lord and see if he does not bless you.

Now, back to my story. I tested the Lord that day. I gave to him of my first fruits. I gave to him before the late electric bill, the car payment, and the bread box. I prioritized Him above my children, wife, financial integrity and all else. I had just enough to catch up on my bills so long as I put his claim on hold. But I gave to him part of what I needed. Why? Because he is faithful. Why? Because you can’t out-give God. Why? Because he called on me to test him.

However . . . Two weeks later, threats of collection, electricity cut-off, and growling stomachs of my family made me wonder: Did he just fail the test? Did I just out-give God?

Ten years later, I don’t have any “success” stories concerning the size of God’s shovel. There are still no lack of stories from people (which I don’t doubt) concerning how God blessed them with great financial abundance due to their sacrificial giving. But no matter how I try to manipulate my own story, it always seems that my shovel is bigger than God’s.

I am certainly not discouraged by this. And, if you find yourself in a similar situation, you should not be either.

Let me list a few reasons, beyond my own subjective testimony, why I believe the “You can’t out-give God” statement can be very misleading.

First, the passage most often used is Malachi 3:10. In that passage, God does indeed call upon his people to test him. They were “robbing” him of tithes and offerings (v. 8). He tells the nation that if they will prioritize him through their giving, he will bless them. However, there are three things to take into account:

First, he is speaking to a nation, not an individual. Notice in verse 9: “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you.” Therefore, it is talking about national blessings, not individual blessings.

Second, this is the nation of Israel to whom he is speaking, not our nation. Verses 11-12 describe the blessings under the Mosaic Covenant that were/are particular to Israel, not to us. We are no longer under the Mosaic Covenant, for its blessings or its curses.

Third, even if we could draw an eternal principle out of this passage, we must understand that when it is assumed that the nation of Israel was being obedient to the Covenant, experiencing its blessings, there was always provision for the “poor” of the land. In Leviticus 14:21, we have a stipulation for a faithful Israelite who was giving to God, but remained very poor. God allowed him to give less than was required. Why didn’t this faithful Israelite have more? As well, there is no indication in Leviticus 25:39 that the poor man selling himself into slavery was disobedient. God calls upon fellow Israelites to have mercy on him and those like him. Further, Deuteronomy 15:7-11 demonstrates that God listens to the prayers of the poor when they are neglected. It even says that “The poor will never cease to be in the land” (v. 11; emphasis mine). And this was under the Covenant!

Concerning the widow’s mite, let’s read the story:

Luke 21:1-4
“And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.'”

My first thought when reading this is, why was she so poor? She was the most godly of the bunch. The others, who were rich, were rebuked because they gave so little. But this poor lady, in her faithful service to God, gave all she had. If this was the state of her heart (rather than the first time she did this), then it seems that her shovel was bigger than God’s, and Christ loved it!

Paul spoke about how he, in his Christian life, had learned to live in abundance and poverty (Phil. 4:12). Paul most certainly was a sacrificial giver. Why did he ever experience need? It would seem that his shovel was sometimes bigger than God’s.

Conclusion

In Evangelicalism, we don’t like the Health-Wealth Gospel. You know, the one that says God wants us to be healthy and wealthy. We rightly call this a serious aberration of the Gospel. We even call it heresy. However, do we not promote a quasi-wealth Gospel when we say that God’s shovel is bigger than ours with the implication that if we give money to God, he will give us more money back?

Though I am certainly imperfect here, I do believe what I heard a pastor say the other day: “There is no greater indication of your spiritual life then your giving habits.” He went on to say, “It is impossible to be a good Christian if you are not giving.” The old saying, “If you want to know where someone’s priorities lie, thumb through their checkbook,” is true. However, I do not believe that we are to give with some idea that the bank account of heaven is obligated to wire transfer directly to our earthly bank accounts when we give sacrificially. God may or he may not.

But won’t we experience “blessing” when we give, even if it is not financial? I suppose. But it really depends on how you look at it. When we give sacrificially to the Lord without expectations, we are acting out the blessing that we already have been given: a perspective that is in alignment with reality. The widow gave because she knew that this was not her home. She gave all she had because she was already sold out to God. She knew that the treasures of this earth are nothing to be compared to the glory that is to follow. If you believe this—if you truly believe this—you are already blessed. The belief itself is the blessing. Maybe God’s shovel becomes bigger than yours and maybe it does not. Our blessing is our ability to trust God. Our giving is an expression of that trust.

We should expect to suffer in this life. Sometimes that suffering will come in the form of financial suffering. Sometimes it will be other things. But to think and preach that there is some guaranteed way to avoid the cross of financial suffering is not a message that we carry.

As John Calvin puts it in his commentary on Psalm. 125:3:

“We are here warned that the guardianship of God does not secure us from being sometimes exercised with the cross and afflictions, and that therefore the faithful ought not to promise themselves a delicate and easy life in this world, it being enough for them not to be abandoned of God when they stand in need of his help. Their heavenly Father, it is true, loves them most tenderly, but he will have them awakened by the cross, lest they should give themselves too much to the pleasures of the flesh.”

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    56 replies to "“You Can’t Out-Give God” . . . And Other Stupid Statements"

    • Mike

      Great stuff.

      I like hearing about giving from people who don’t have a horse in the race.

      Most Pastors that I listen to, approach the issue with an obvious interest in the result (i.e., giving of their congregation).

    • David Nash

      I’m just a bit confused about the point you are trying to make in this article. Are you suggesting that you were in error by continuing to give to the Lord while you were under heavy financial burdens in seminary? I was taught growing up that “the tithe is the Lord’s” and we rob God by withholding it. It’s not an issue of “trying to out give God”; rather it’s an issue of giving to God what is rightfully His. I know that some would say that the tithe is not a requirement for NT believers, but to me it appears that in the OT the principle of tithing existed even before the law was given to Moses.

    • Lisa

      You make some interesting points, yet it sounds like you are suggesting we put our financial needs in front of obeying what God has said. If you gave a tithe of that 5K you got, you should still have had $4500 left over with which to pay your bills… and did God NOT show up in the nick of time with that 5k? God very much so provided for your family.

      Obviously, we are to live within our means, be smart with the money we are given, and give FIRST. the blessing may not be more money, but yes, there WILL be a blessing.
      I’ve always disliked the widow’s mite story. What was she actually going to be able to purchase with her pittance, anyway? Nothing, so she might as well give it and count on the Lord to provide.
      As my pastor says, food? There’s good eats in the dumpsters. Shelter? A cardboard box counts as that. Clothes? Burlap counts… does he hammer us for money? No, but I give off the top, every payday, and God has blessed me with all I need.

    • C Michael Patton

      David,

      This is not about tithing (which I don’t think the NT supports…I think it is “grace giving”). My point is that we should give no matter what. And, most importantly, we don’t need to be tagging people’s gifts with some type of “bigger shovel” gaurantee.

      Some people will give to the Lord first and end up suffering in other areas with no recovery. But this, when it is the case, is exactly what the Lord wants!

    • Daniel Eaton

      Personally, I’d be disappointed if I was led to give a Christian ministry a gift or a designated gift to a seminary student and they turned around and gave a large chunk away to some other church. To me, it is kinda like that joke where God sends the boat around three times for the guy on the roof in the flood. The boat is kinda useless if you cut off a chunk of it and use it for another purpose. But I have a lot of issues with the way the NT Tithe is taught. Pastors that preach on the tithe need to put in in the context of Deut. 12. You were not to eat your tithe of grain and wine and such in your own town, but take it to the special places (temples) and “There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.”

    • Daniel Eaton

      We went to a church one time that encouraged people to write a check to the church even if they didn’t have the money to cover it because it was an act of faith and “God would provide”. Needless to say, the message I took away from that experiment was NOT the one the pastor said it would be. LOL

    • MrsGendy

      I’m sorry if this come across a bit brutal, but your lack of money during your seminary days might be owing the the fact that you lived off of others and only worked a part time job on campus. I know, I know . . . it’s really hard to be a full time student and work full time, but criminy, you couldn’t hustle a bit more than that?

    • C Michael Patton

      Lisa, it was indeed wonderful that the Lord provided that 5k (and all the rest throughout seminary). However, I did give to him and could not pay bills for some time that I would have been able to pay otherwise.

      My decision was right…give to the Lord. But my expectation was wrong…that he would make sure that we did not suffer due to my sacrafice. Sometimes giving will make you end up with less money and cause you to go into debt into other areas. But we are not to base our giving on whether or not it will hurt us in other areas.

    • C Michael Patton

      Daniel,

      I see what you are saying and have often thought that way myself. However, when we give to people who are in ministry are we to neglect them the gift of being able to sacrafice what they have to the Lord? I know that there is the assumption that they have already done so, but for those in ministy this sacrafice can fade. What a wonderful thing it is to give to someone who might turn around and give a portion of this to the Lord even though they cannot afford it. It is allowing them to take part in an important aspect of our spirtuality.

      Therefore, I don’t mind when people give a portion of what I give to them.

    • C Michael Patton

      Gendy,

      The validity of being in ministry or seminary and having to raise support is another issue I think. The issue I am trying to deal with is this: Can you out give God? If the promotion of the idea that you cannot out give him Biblical?>

    • Daniel Eaton

      I am not opposed to sacrificial giving. I just don’t elevate it to some spiritual gift or calling. I have been led to give when it was a sacrifice to do so. But lots of gifts are God calling on you to meet some specific need. If Credo House needed $2500 to meet some obligation or it would be shut down and God told me to supply that, I’d expect you to apply it to the need in which it was given and not give $500 of it to some church that doesn’t have the same kind of critical need. I think we have to keep it in balance. Just as God didn’t command a tithe on every possession, I think we can apply that to things like designated gifts where God has led for a specific purpose. Of course these gifts are often above and beyond what He may have led you to give on a normal basis in what is typically seen as a “tithe”.

    • Daniel Eaton

      This gets beyond whether the “tithe” is taught in a watered down wealth-gospel way. I agree with that. And it is beyond whether the tithe is the Biblical NT model to follow. I disagree with that. But, when the people brought their tithes and offerings to the priests, did the priests turn around and tithe on it to some other temple? Or, on the other hand, did the people receiving the designated gift/offering use all of it for its designated purpose? If God led you to give part of a designated gift to you to someone else, then you would have been disobedient to do otherwise. But I don’t believe, as a matter of general principle, that the designee of a gift intended for specific purposes is in any way guilty for using all of it for its original intent. If I have a need and God provides the exact amount I need to meet that need, how much clearer of a sign do I need as to the purpose?

    • Pastor EJA

      How about:
      “If the Lord wanted me there, he would have to daily open his hand to our needs.”

      You never said anything about that statement.

      Why would he ‘HAVE TO’ do that? Was that some sort of fleece?

    • Eric S. Mueller

      The “outgive God” thing is a Christian cliche. Though the Bible is full of encouragement to give, it doesn’t specify a formula. I also can’t find anything in the Bible’s financial instructions to place your family in financial peril to “earn your stripes” as a “Good Christian”. If I had to base my “goodness as a Christian” on other people’s external pious cliches, I’d probably walk away from the faith in frustration.

      If I knew a brother in Christ with an almost starving family and an impending utility shut off or eviction, I would not tell them “Dude, you have to give everything away and trust God”. I’d say “Pay your bills and feed your kids. Give when you’re better off”.

      You can count me as “not a good Christian” if you wish. I think we do far more damage to each other with silly little cliches and external appearances of piety.

      I’m not trying to sound short. There are limited characters, so I’m trying to get to the point.

    • Daniel Eaton

      I think that level of pragmatism, Eric, is in line with 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 8:3. People who gave beyond their means did so “of their own accord”.

    • C Michael Patton

      The issue in my mind is always sacrifice. We need to always be sacrificing something for the Lord. If we work under the philosophy that we have to wait until we r able I think we will always be waiting. That is why the idea of first fruits is important in my paradigm.

    • C Michael Patton

      Pastor. There is a contengicy in my statement. “if the lord wants . . .” therefore it is in his hands. He does not HAVE TO do anything. But when he leads he provides whatever is needed.

    • Daniel Eaton

      CMP, is need to constantly sacrifice different from having a proper attitude of stewardship? Is sacrifice above and beyond duty, or part of our duty? There is a whole lot there that I can see in need of fleshing out. Can we hope for a sequel to this blog? 🙂

    • Steve Martin

      None of us gives like he/she ought.

      Add that to the long list of everything else we are lousy stewards of.

      I guess we need a Savior.

    • Rob Lazar

      God said give your firstfruits, not your allfruits (if that’s a word). I think God is saying, “you shall have no other Gods before Me”.

      A Godly steward gives the best he has to God. But no where does it say give everything to God. We must consider it all his and care for what has been entrusted to us in that way. Even leftovers in the fields are to be…well, left over. Leviticus 19:9-10. Why? So there was some left for the needy and the stranger.

      If you gather everything and give it away, there’s nothing left for the needy and the stranger. If God so blesses you, you can have enough for yourself and others as well. Be a good steward and let God provide the abundance.

      The command, “You shall have no other gods before me” includes the god of “You can’t out-give God.” If that’s your goal, relegating God to 2nd place, then it’s wrong. Consider it all His and be a good steward.

    • Morgan

      Our pastor always teaches to give and trust God. He told a story about a woman in his congregation years ago who asked, “Should I give today when I know I won’t be able to pay all my bills by the end of the month?” And his response, “Give now out of obedience and if you need more money at the end of the month to make ends meet, come talk to me. We’ll take care of you.”

      I liked hearing that, because we’ve run into financial trouble before. The church has never balked at helping us in our times of need, and we’ve never balked in giving out of our income.

    • Delwyn X. Campbell

      Michael, first fo all, first fruits is, like tithes, a particular thing – specifically, a first sprouting of a plant. As such, it is a very small sample of the future harvest. Secondly, the only sacrifice that the NT says we are to do is the sacrifice of praise, doing good, and sharing (Heb 13:15-16). If you give into a ministry, while not taking care of your household, you are worse than an unbeliever, and have denied the Faith.

    • C Michael Patton

      Taking care of the family here in America is somewhat subjective. Even when we were at our worst in seminary, were we not still better off than eighty percent of the world’s population? So many of the things we get down about (I get down about) such as electricity, having two cars, having plenty of choices in our dining experience, or choices in our apparel are American luxuries. When do we say that we are robbing God to keep up on a lifestyle that 99% of the worlds history have not been able to keep up?

      Taking care of our families is indeed important. But what level of lifestyle are we requiring for us to qualify for taking care of them? I am afraid that I (and most of us here in America) are pretty lost here.

    • Shannon

      Great post! I hate the “Name It & Claim It Gospel”, or the “Prosperity Gospel” if you prefer that some preach. It relegates God to the status of Celestial Erand Boy, which is a VERY dangerous thing to do. I believe that wave of doctrine is Satanic. Why? Because Satan was booted out of heaven for wanting it all. The prosperity Gospel tells us you can have it all. It takes our eyes off of God & places it on “stuff.” It makes us greedy-we weigh our giving with what we get out of it. That is not even close to sacrificial giving. My “go-to” verses on giving are these: 2 Cor 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”& Ex 25:2 -“Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.” I don’t get too wrapped up in percentages when I give. I give what’s on my heart & also tithe my time by serving @ church in…

    • Shannon

      some way. With my tithe, sometimes it’s 10%, sometimes more, sometimes less. But I give because I love God & love His flock. I think He’s more concerned with the attitued in which we give than the amount we give. Just my 2 cents… 😀

    • C Michael Patton

      Do you think your “2 cents” really does honor to God. I mean, yeah, widows 2 mites, but I am sure you have more than two cents to give to our Lord. That would mean you only make 20 cents a month?

      😉

    • Shannon

      Michael, I’m guessing your comment is tongue in cheek… I think at the end of the day, we need to make sure that we give with the right motives – not to get something, but simply because we love God. He will bless us – not always monetarily – it could be that we are given favor in some situation that leads us down the road, closer to our goals & He uses the tough times to show us who He is & it is in these times that our faith grows deep roots. It’s easy to trust God when things are perfect. It’s another thing alltogether to trust Him when things are hard. I learned this when walking through brain surgery 3 years ago to remove a baseball sized brain tumor from my frontal lobe. I emerged from it with very little defects (I tire easily, too much stress is my sworn enemy, stuff like that), but He showed me so much grace through that situation. I can say I trust Him now. Notice I didn’t say I understand His ways, but I do trust that somehow, some way things will work out.

    • John from Down Under

      There’s never a shortage of anecdotal feel good stories about giving and getting blessed back. Dime a dozen where I come from (Pentecostalism). I’ve also heard a few too many in private that sound like Michael’s, but somehow those end up on the ‘cutting floor’ and never make it on ‘testimonials’ or even in home group discussions.

      I’m with Shannon on this but my beef is twofold:

      a) I know several non-Christians who are loaded financially and it has nothing to do with giving to God. They do not exercise ‘biblical principles’ on giving.
      b) Those pastors who are ‘giving heavy’ in their preaching somehow have decided that this area of obedience is far more important than others. I don’t know of any other topic that heaps more guilt and condemnation on people than this!

    • Shannon

      I agree John from Down Under. Amen!!! 🙂

    • Alex

      I think it would be so beneficial if someone could define a “minimal” level of living — i.e., a level of living at which it could be said that a person’s family was being sufficiently provided for.

      My wife lived in the Philippines at an orphanage for 3 years, eating what they ate, drinking their water, etc. About a year and a half ago, we found out that she had all sorts of parasites causing her to get sick, be unable to gain weight, etc. That made me wonder, what level of health should we be living it? At what point do we say that we’re spending the proper amount of money on our nutrition? If we go by the nutritional standards of the people she lived with in the Philippines, we probably won’t live to 50.

      That’s just one question — there are plenty more, regarding the money that’s spent on living in a “safe” neighborhood, money that’s saved, etc. It may be a bit of a rabbit trail, but it’s a question I think is often overlooked when the topic is Christian giving.

    • Tony Isaac

      Hi Michael,

      I understand what you are saying perfectly. And it is a pity what today’s church has come to. People are being made to forgo survival essentials in the name of putting God first. And this to me brings this kind of religion or faith into question.

      At the end of the day though, those who peddle this kind of doctrine simply are not putting God first like they want people to believe. But seem more interested in themselves to me. Because there is no portion of scripture that tells us we must give God tithes or firstfruits at the expense of our needs and those of our families. We should not muzzle the ox that treads the corn.

      Even Jesus did not encourage this kind of behaviour as He condemned the Pharisees for encouraging people to neglect their parents in favour of giving money to God. As far as Jesus was concerned, the Pharisees were encouraging people to disobey the God given command to honour one’s parents.

      Paul even had something to say along those lines to…

    • Tony Isaac

      Timothy, His words were anyone who does not take care of his family is worse than an infidel and has denied the faith. And I am really shocked at some comments I have read: how can taking care of one’s family first be classed as disobedience towards God? Charity must begin at home!

      When it comes to giving in the New Testament, the bible encourages us to give what we can afford and if that includes nothing for the moment, I think God would have no qualms with that.

    • […] ‘Mainline’ Near End? – Get Religion A Passionate Green Calvinism – Belden C. Lane ‘You Can’t Outgive God’ . . . and Other Stupid Statements – C. Michael Patton Hell is Either Empty or Full – Rob Rynders Life Happens While […]

    • Stuart

      The Corinthian church raised money for the Jewish Christians back in Jerusalem because of their tough times due to the famine (and persecution?). Did Paul expect to give them the aid and then demand 10% back from them?

      Personally, some may call it a lack of faith, but I feel an obligation to make sure financially my family and I are squared away. I put that as the priority so that I can bless God and others.

      When people are in a squeeze, I think their best investment is getting their heads above water. Ultimately, they can give more if they aren’t running from creditors. Ofc, they shouldn’t nix the giving to God while still keeping their smart phones, cable, and going out to eat.

      That being said, plenty of people have been blessings of God who had a more trusting and/or reckless attitude.

    • Saskia

      Woah! How’s the condemnation! I know money is a really important issue but jeeze give the guy a break. I’m glad he can defend himself.

      It certainly is a fraught issue and one I often find myself falling short in. I think in terms of stewardship it is not about giving some to God and keeping some for yourself. Stewardship is the realisation that all my money is God’s and whatever I use it for, should be God’s work. And that might mean giving to my local church, feeding my family, giving to those poorer than me or buying more expensive clothes because they don’t come from a sweatshop. All of this is God’s work. (Not that we shouldn’t give to church).

    • hmkjr

      “Some people will give to the Lord first and end up suffering in other areas with no recovery. But this, when it is the case, is exactly what the Lord wants!”

      “Sometimes giving will make you end up with less money and cause you to go into debt into other areas. ”

      CMP – I am on board with sacrificial giving, but how does one define a “sacrifice”? More importanlty though, do you really believe that it is God’s will for us to give to the point that we are forced to incur debt? Or are you not specficially referring to “credit debt”? Rather you are reffering to a “deficit” in another area.

      Thank you

    • Jeff Ayers

      Michael:

      It is time for another installment of “…and other stupid statements”.

      May I give you a few that I have heard over the years from pastors and preachers:

      “If He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all”

      “You must repent to be saved, which means “a change of mind”; but if your life doesn’t change (by giving up sin and showing fruit) then you haven’t REALLY repented.”

      “I don’t have time to get sidetracked with all these ‘deep theological issues’; I am too busy serving the Lord”

      “If God wanted us to know the answer to these theological issues, he would have made it plain for a babe to understand— we will just have to get the answer after we die or are raptured”

      I have dozens more if you are interested

      Jeff Ayers

      • Scott

        Jeff, those “stupid” statements you just listed are, for the most part Biblical, or at least grounded in truth. Therefore, they are not stupid, and you’re wrong for believing they are stupid.

    • hmkjr

      I would say this one is biblical, not stupid.

      “You must repent to be saved, which means “a change of mind”; but if your life doesn’t change (by giving up sin and showing fruit) then you haven’t REALLY repented.”

      1 John

    • Randy Tanner

      Sounds like bitter grapes to me. Here is a verse that you left out. 2 Thess. 3:7-10; For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, THIS WE COMMAND YOU, THAT IF ANY WOULD NOT WORK, NEITHER SHOULD HE EAT!!!
      2 Thess 3:7-10 (KJV)
      There are several unanswered questions here. 1. How much debt were you in before you went to DTS? 2. Working at the library was the ONLY job you could do or find in that area? 3. You could not find a church to serve in like MOST seminary students do?
      Soulnds like you think you were ENTITLED to go to seminary without any sacrifice. Sorry dude, just doesnt happen that way. NOBTS GRAD, Dec. 2001! Other like grads worked and went to…

    • scott

      I read the article but didn’t have time to read all the comments. Someone may have already hit on this point. If you were in debt up to your eyeballs you weren’t being a good steward with what God had given you anyway. There are verses on not being in debt and not co-signing. My family, like probably 90% of Christian households in America used to be in debt up to our eyeballs. Finally I had enough and prayed with sincerity for the Lord to show me what I should do about my finances. He led me to the Dave Ramsey radio show. He showed us “God and grandma’s way of handling money”. Since then we haven’t lacked once and we have been blessed with enough of an abundance to give freely. Was getting out of debt fun? No way! Was it fast? Nope, took four long years of hard work and doing without wants.

      Why was it hard? Why didn’t God instantly fix our money situation when we started listening? Well if you jump off a building, but then decide it was a bad idea you’re still gonna hit the…

    • scott

      http://www.thegreatrecovery.com/live/

      Check this out this is amazing hope inducing stuff. I know it says one comment a a time and I apologize.

      Have hope and God Bless!

    • P.Paulraj

      God definitely blesses according to the promises quoted from the Scriptures. But, wait, in His own time..immediately, after few months, after years…at the right time which God thinks is best for us. Till that right time, we may suffer financially

    • Johnston

      Well, I think you have been misled. If pastors caused you to believe “you can’t outgive God” means when you give him $1, he gives you $1.50, you give him $1,000 he gives you $2,000, then yes, that’s wrong.

      But I believe God’s promises in scripture hold true. New Testament or Old, because God makes it clear in scripture that he does not change (Heb. 13:8, Mal. 3:6, Num. 23:19). Of course Jesus fulfills the Law so it’s done away with, but God’s promises still stand.

      So what’s the deal? Well God never specifies his blessings in the passage from Malachi or other verses of blessing. He may reward us financially, physically, spiritually, with opportunities, success in ministry, great wife, etc., etc., etc. So just because you give in money does not mean you will be blessed in money. But God is faithful, and his promises do stand. We can’t outgive him. Trust that promise, because it’s a real good one.

    • Darryl

      Well, I’m not allowed to disclose how much I give to the church, rest assured that it is a sizable sum. And I give it out of genuine concern that I have done some serious sinning between Monday and Sunday morning and I need to make amends somehow. And giving money is quite a good way to make amends for screwing up midweek.

    • Johnston

      Darryl,

      Just out of love man, I need to let you know that you’re in a very dangerous place right now. The Bible makes it clear that we are not able to make amends for our own sins (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23, Matthew 5:20, Romans 3:10, Mark 10:18, etc.) Even in the times of the Old Testament the people were not making amends for their own sins, God was just allowing them to prove their faith through works knowing that Jesus would take that punishment (Romans 3:25).

      So, the only way to salvation is placing full trust in Jesus Christ to forgive and redeem you. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes this process: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

      We cannot be saved by what we do. We can’t cover our own sins or make amends. We have to place full trust in Jesus to be the one to give freedom to us as a gift. He died on the cross to take the punishment that we deserved. All we have to do is accept that gift. And once we do this, all our past, present, and future sins will be forgiven.

      I hope you see this, think, and pray through it! Sorry for the long post!

    • Jay

      Darryl,

      Please hear what Johnston has to say. We can’t do anything to make amends, except accepting that Christ paid the price.

    • David

      I think you’re a bit confused when you say that we do not partake of the blessings of Malaqui 3:10. Yes, of curses, certainly not because Christ became a curse in our place, but certainly the blessings we are partakers. What you may not have realized is that Jesus Christ fulfilled all the law and that is why we are justified (by faith not by sacrifice). God is not a man to lie (numbers 23:19), “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaíah 55:11)” Jesus said: “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 6:38) “. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (philippians 4:19)” “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9: 7).” “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebreus 11:6) “. FINALLY: “From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. Proverbs 18:20)”. What are you confessing?

    • Eve

      2 Chr25:9 Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” The man of God replied, “The LORD can give you much more than that.”

    • Cindy

      I get it. . . God is concerned with our heart, not the outward appearance. Living for Christ is not a formula where I give A and I can then expect to receive B and C. God is sovereign and He decides how to bless me. Maybe the faith he has given me is in itself the blessing.

      My husband and I are going through a financially hard time, but God is using it to take away my fear of not having enough. I didn’t realize I had this fear until this season of suffering. I wouldn’t trade this difficult time for the world because I am seeing God in a whole new light. I am seeing how big He is and that even when I don’t have enough, I really do because He is all I need.

      I get what you’re saying: if my motivation to give is because I will gain something from it, then my heart is in the wrong place. If my drive to give is purely out of obedience with no concern for how things will turn out for me, but just because I love God, then my heart is right.

      Keep up the good work. . .everyone will not understand, but God is smiling at your heart!!

    • M Baker

      “You can’t out-give God” is not a stupid statement. How people interpret the statement may be stupid, but the statement itself is not.

      It is a fact that a created being cannot physically give more than the Creator, as the Creator is the one who created all of existance anyway, and therefore literally ‘gave it all’.

      Any amount we give, even if we were to give everything in existance (which is impossible), still cannot be -more- than the Creator of that same universe has already given. This is without even considering that the Creator can at any time of His choosing create even more, and raise the stakes even further.

      It’s simple logic that “you can’t out-give God”. While you do go on to clarify what you mean by your claim that the statement is ‘stupid’ in the article, the title is at the least mis-leading, and at worst false.

      I’m not too comfortable with the whole ‘health and wealth’ thing either, and I agree with most of what you’re saying, but the bare fact of the matter is that “you can’t out-give God” as that would be physically impossible, so it’s not such a stupid statement.

    • Steve Skeete

      With all due respect I do not think the statement “you cannot out give God” is stupid at all. In fact, it is a very accurate statement however one looks at it.

      How do you “out-give” the one who gives breath, health, sunshine, and salvation? Even if you gave God all “your” money and, presumably, got “nothing” back in return, the question would still be who gave you “your” money in the first place, and who, besides God, determines how much you “get back”? And why make it simply about money or material things?

      In the totality of giving no one’s “shovel” is bigger than God’s.

    • mark

      ?? Has anybody heard the little verse I heard when I was a wee little kid back in sunday school many years ago…
      ‘….for God loveth a cheerful giver.’ & the context of that verse is wonderful as well ?? II Cor.9:7 kjv

    • JTapp

      John MacArthur recently (11/2014) said “You can’t outgive God” in a sermon, and meant it as a factual statement. Just so you know…I chuckled when I heard it.

    • Christian

      I know this blog is outdated, but I wanted to comment anyway. I recently preached on giving from 2 Corinthians 8-9, with 8:9 as my focus verse. My point was not that God will give you more as you give him more, but that Jesus changes your view of money. Paul says that he became poor so that we might become rich. This is clearly not financial wealth, but spiritual. The verses prior to this, and all the way through chapter 9, are about giving money. But this seems to be the central point of what he is saying.

      Jesus gave up the riches of the universe (so to speak) to come down here and die for us. What then is the money in your pocket? It is his. And 9:6 is not a call to give more so that you can get more. Rather, as you give more God will bless you with more so that you now have more to give. Jesus is not a get rich quick scheme. And the last part of chapter 9 is about the Gospel being proclaimed and people being saved because of our giving. None of it is about us.

    • Chris Wincovitch

      You can’t outgive God is not scripture.
      I think it is a good principle though, especially when it is taken out of the context of only finances.

      No one can ever sacrifice more than Jesus did in order to offer us salvation from our sins. And all of what we give in this life for Him will be rewarded in eternity, We don’t always see the physical fruits of our giving in this life, but I think we see i immense spiritual blessings if our spiritual eyes are open.
      Luke 6:38 “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.”

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