If you have ever tuned in to television preachers you have probably heard a request for money. Most of the time the requests for donations are joined with promises of great blessing to those who give. The promises may be that God will give you ten or a hundred times your gift. The promises may be that if you plant your seed of faith with a minimum donation to the ministry, God will reward you with prosperity and freedom from financial woes. Sometimes the promises are not so dramatic, but the great majority of televised ministries that ask for financial aid promise that God will give back to you many times more than you give. Is this Biblical? Does God reward those who give to churches and religious ministries?
When it comes to understanding the promises of God to Christian’s believers must start with the New Testament. The majority of the verses used to bolster the preacher’s claims come from the Old Testament. The promises made by God to Israel are unique, particularly the promises of physical blessing. Applying them to Christian’s today is a serious error in understanding the Bible. The nation of Israel was a unique people group on the earth, set apart by God to show His power and glory to the entire world. Because of their unique position, God promised Israel that if they would obey Him, He would give them rich blessings. God promised Israel that if they disobeyed His commands He would take away their blessings and bring them under intense suffering. The promises God made to the church are very different.
The New Testament church is a special group of people set apart by God to proclaim His salvation to the entire world. Because of the unique nature of the church, the New Testament promises those who follow Him will suffer persecution, troubles and afflictions. “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:13) “All that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) The promise to the believer is that the world will respond to the faithful Christian with hatred, mockery and persecution. The New Testament contains no example of a believer being made rich, or even financially stable, because of his giving to the ministry.
The only passage in the New Testament that speaks directly to giving and the blessings of God is 2 Corinthians 9. Verse 6 is one of the verses used by some preachers to promise rich reward to those who give. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Is Paul promising that God will give rich financial rewards to those give generously? Two verses later Paul explains the blessing God gives to those who give generously. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.” In other words, the blessing of God to those who give is grace to be more generous in good works. He does not promise a return of wealth but spiritual provision enabling the Christian to continue serving. The only promise of physical supply is found in Philippians 4:19. In Philippians 4 Paul tells Christians who gave sacrificially to his ministry that God would supply their needs. God does not promise to give rich financial rewards to Christians. He promises rich grace, many spiritual blessings and provision for daily needs.
Those who promise physical provision mistake the priorities of the Christian and the church. They misunderstand the true natures of the riches of God’s blessing. God is not working in the Christian today to make him physically healthy and prosperous. God is working to make the believer more like Jesus which will result in eternal rewards. Spiritual prosperity is worth far more than all the riches of this world. The Christian should not give to reap treasures on this earth but to lay up rich treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-20)