Does the Bible teach that if we give money to the church, we will get money in return? The answer is, not really — although there is a connection between being generous in your attitude and being blessed in your life.
Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.“
Notice there is absolutely no reference to the church or God’s people in this passage. It doesn’t need to be there, because the passage is talking about your attitude. It is not talking about who you give to, or how much you give. In contrast, it’s easy to be stingy. Anyone can withhold. The Bible says, ‘Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you.’ (Proverbs 3:27-28) Once again, the Bible is talking about our attitude. Of course, attitude does translate to actions. It is clear from these passages.
If you read the Bible from cover to cover, you will find out that God’s commandments are all about attitude. In the Ten Commandments, we are told not to covet. Covetousness is an attitude first, before it translates to any action. Jesus reaffirmed that attitude came first when He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
When the Bible says not to harden your heart (Proverbs 28:14), that’s all about attitude. When the Bible says, to “give and it shall be given” (Luke 6:38), that, too, is all about attitude (that passage is about having a merciful heart in giving, which comes from Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful“). Matthew 7:1 says, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Once again, that’s all about attitude. Some people, not understanding this, have made a rule that we should not judge anything. But that is not what the Bible is teaching in this passage. Otherwise, how could Jesus have said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment“? (John 7:24) So Matthew 7:1 is about our attitude in judgment.
When it comes to giving, and being blessed in it, it is also all about attitude. If we give to help others, and have a generous heart, God will indeed bless us. But be careful, lest the tempter deceive you! Attitude does not take the place of our need to exercise wise stewardship (being careful where we spend our money). Attitude also does not take the place of our need to be careful in the use of our gifts and talents, so that we can earn money which can then be used for wise purposes. Attitude does not replace these. A good attitude must be part of these. This is extremely important.
The tempter (Satan) has been busy at work producing a doctrine that claims to be able to make a person rich, merely by giving money to the church. This doctrine is called “seed faith” or “seed offering” giving. It is promoted by Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and others. You are guaranteed financial blessings by giving to their ministries. Of course, you need to be faithful in giving, so the guarantee really only applies to those who are faithful over the long term. Furthermore, if you don’t get back your money (double fold, triple fold, etc.), then perhaps there was a small problem. Was your attitude right? Check again and keep giving.
How is it that king Solomon got rich? He did so primarily by collecting taxes. Israel provided the highway for travellers north and south (down to Egypt). King Solomon exacted taxes on all — thousands — who passed by. This was one of the means by which he became exceedingly rich. His gifts and talents — really, the wisdom God gave him to accumulate wealth through taxation on all those who travelled on his roads — “paved the way” for him to become exceedingly wealthy. Solomon was also responsible to use that money wisely. At a certain point (1 Kings 11), judgment came, because Solomon’s heart turned away from the Lord. This had nothing to do with how much money he was putting into the temple treasury. It had everything to do with his heart. His heart turned away from the Lord, the Bible says (1 Kings 11:4).
Through and through, the Bible tells us that God looks at the heart. “… for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) The primary “judge” or “indicator” that God uses to determine your “blessed” status in His kingdom is not your money, but your heart. Do you remember the rich man, and Lazarus (the beggar) from Luke 16:19-31? The rich man went to hell. Lazarus went to heaven! Why then are you clamouring to get rich? Look at the warning in the Bible! It says, “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (1 Timothy 6:9) Your desire should be to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Where in the Bible does it say that we should desire riches? Nowhere. The Bible warns us about having a desire to get rich (1 Timothy 6:9) and there is no “easy method” of getting rich. Giving to the church is good and necessary, and will help to keep you blessed because of your attitude and faithfulness in helping others. But it is not God’s means of making you money. But working hard and using your talents and gifts wisely is. Bill Gates and Ingvar Kamprad (founder of Ikea who in 2004 surpassed Bill Gates as the world’s wealthiest person) did not get rich as a result of giving to the church. Of course, being rich, they can easily bless the work of God and help others. That is their responsibility. But that is not how they became rich. Was it even their goal to become rich? No. Their goal was to be innovative with their gifts and talents (which God gave them, which either they recognize or not as having come from God). Regardless of whether they themselves are believers, the principle they used to gain wealth is biblical. The pattern is a biblical pattern of using time, gifts and talents wisely.
You should not be clamouring to get rich, but to use what God has given to you in an innovative and righteous way, to serve God. In other words, it’s not getting rich that matters, but getting righteous. Of course, God wants you to have enough to live on. I am not suggesting you should want to be poor. Yet being rich does not necessarily mean you are blessed by God — as some teach. It is the rich in Psalm 73 who went down to hell. It was those who struggled who did not.
Why do Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland and others teach that God wants you to give your money to their ministries, and that by doing so, you will get rich, and that with those riches you can give even more? I think the primary reason is that they have been caught up in a delusional spirit as a result of their wealth and popularity. This delusional spirit has overtaken them to the point where they actually believe it, and are promoting the “seed faith” or “seed offering” teaching as being God’s word. Is God using these men? In part, He is. There are many things they teach that are true. But of course, there is deception at work, as well.
It is great when God blesses us with wealth — even through random means, like receiving cheques in the mail, which is promoted by the likes of these teachers. However, I cannot imagine the apostle Paul ever teaching something like this. Paul wrote, “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” (1 Thessalonians 2:9) And again, “nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:8). How does this square with the “seed faith” and “seed offering” teaching? There is a huge difference!
In terms of what God’s word teaches in terms of how to become rich, the means itself is not by giving, but by working hard. Giving should be the result of a generous heart, not because of a desire to become rich. Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn have become so supernaturally-oriented that they are teaching that giving to their ministries is the way to become rich! Simply give to their ministries, and God will bless you. This is “seed faith” or “seed offering” teaching. How does the “seed faith” or “seed offering” teaching compare with what the Bible teaches? The answer is, “not much”.