Practicing The Surrendered Life
- 2002 11 Jan
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measurepressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return (Luke 6:38).
Few Scripture verses are quoted more often than Luke 6:38 regarding giving and receiving. But does it really mean what it seems to say? Does God promise to give to us abundantly? Do Gods promises depend on our giving first? What about those who have nothing to give? Does that mean that they will receive nothing from the Lord?
The promise by Jesus recorded in Luke 6:38 was not made exclusively to the rich, spiritual, gifted, or talented. It was a promise to anyone who would apply its principles. Although the promise does include prerequisites, they are not prerequisites that involve ones spiritual maturity or social status. The prerequisites are ones of action: give first, then you will receive.
Generally Christians in America are divided into five giving types or giving groups.
- The first group either gives nothing or very little (far less than 10 percent of their incomes) to work being done in the Lords name. Most American Christians belong to this group.
- The second group gives at least 10 percent of their incomes regularly but seldom experiences what can be considered Gods abundant material supply or spiritual bounty.
- The third group gives at least 10 percent of their incomes and can identify times when God has given to them both material and spiritual abundance.
- The fourth group is small. This group gives far above 10 percent of their incomes but seldom identifies with Gods abundant material return.
- The fifth group is even smaller. This group gives far above 10 percent of the incomes and identifies with Gods material and spiritual abundant return.
Those who give nothing or less than 10 percent of their income have, by their lack of giving, limited what God can do for them according to His Word. Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, How have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8). Paul the Apostle amplifies the same admonition. Now I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6). The lack of giving is an external indicator that there is something wrong spiritually.
Those who give more than 10 percent but not necessarily sacrificially and experience Gods abundant supply are meeting Gods prerequisites for where they are in their spiritual growth at that time. As they continue to grow and as God continues to teach them, the outward material abundance may change, as different lessons need to be learned.
Some of those who give far beyond 10 percent of their income and do not experience Gods abundance could be giving with the wrong motive. They may be trying to bribe God; they require and even demand Gods blessings because they gave, as they say, sacrificially. They are not in subjection to God but are trying to exercise control over Him. But others in this category, who give abundantly but receive little physical evidence of Gods return, may receive that return in other ways. These could include excellent health, a good and stable job, children and family who are committed to Christ, a car that seldom needs repairs, and so on.
The group who gives abundantly and receives abundance in return from the Lord, generally give because they desire to give, and although they may expect back from the Lord they do not demand it or become discouraged if they do not receive it in the manner or bounty they expected. Their giving is out of a desire to please God, not to profit from their relationship with Him. They are thankful when God gives back to them and show their thanks by giving back to God even more than they had given before the blessing. Yet, they are also thankful even if God gives them nothing materially in return and will continue to give abundantly. Many in this group go through periods of overflowing abundance from the Lord, as well as long periods of no abundant return. But in either period, they continue to give because their desire is to give to the Lords work. If they receive an abundant return from the Lord, they feel that the return was given so that they can give more. If they do not receive an abundant return, they know that they are in the midst of a time of training and learning from the Lord for the next lifes stage that He has prepared for them. As such, they usually conclude that their giving must not decrease but, rather, it should increase.
The spiritual principles behind Luke 6:38 are indeed giving and receiving, but we do not give to receive. The prerequisites to receiving are found in Luke 6:27-37. A Christian who lives by these principles practices the surrendered life. Therefore, theThe one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful giving is simply a material expression of the deeper spiritual obedience to Christ. Nearly every Christian desires to be obedient to God, and in many ways most are. However, Christ warned us that one of the greatest threats to our walk with God is the appeal of the materialist world. (Matthew 13:22).