In Your Bible Read This Out Loud: 1 Timothy 6:3-5
Memorise This Verse: 2 Corinthians 2:17 ‘Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit’
Afterwards Talk About This: Which is more important – giving or the motive for doing so.
Something To Do Before Next Time: Consider if the place/.person you give to ever uses pressure.
Written Diploma Work: With reference to the scriptures and personal experience, write one side on why we should be on our guard against pressurised appeals.
Meditate Word By Word On This Verse: 2 Peter 2:1-3
Perhaps the greatest wrong motivation for giving is treating the law of giving and receiving as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme where we seek the blessings of God for our own selfish desires. People hear about the blessings of God and his prosperity but strangely don’t hear about the purposes of his blessings and seek the blessings of God as an end in itself. Certainly give as much as you can, believe as much as you can and receive as much as you can but please don’t hoard the blessings as much as you can. God wants to bless you so that you can be a blessing if the only reason you give is to receive back to spend it on yourself you are very selfish by all means seek God’s blessing – but also seek to pass it on as well.
A further wrong motivation to give is the idea that if you don’t give, God will be unhappy with you and send poverty on you and hence by giving you are literally buying the clemency of God. (An example of this would be a Pastor telling his congregation that if they don’t tithe, God will send sickness on them and take 10% away from them in Doctor’s bills!) God’s love for us is not dependant on our actions (certainly not our giving) and God’s love doesn’t increase when we start to give to him. It has been said before that whilst the blessings of God are conditional on our giving, his love is totally unconditional of any actions on our part. Whilst it is the case that life will be better for the generous giver as opposed to the non-giver, it is not because God sends disaster on the non-giver but by not giving we exclude ourselves from operating in God’s law of giving and receiving.
The way by which we work out and give our tithes is a further indication that we could be giving with a wrong motive. It has been argued previously that we should take great care to ensure that we tithe on all our income and that we accurately ensure that we give 10%. However if we work out our tithe to the last penny and give not one penny more does it not show that we are trying to get away with the bare minimum requirement of 10%. Why not work out your tithe to the last penny and then round it up to the nearest pound or 10 pound as this demonstrates a generous and willing spirit and you make absolutely sure that you have done more than the minimum required.
Having looked at some of the wrong motives for our giving there is a further area that is of special concern and that is the area of manipulation and pressurized giving there is much that can be said of this. Ever since the church was brought into existence there have been those in Christian leadership who have exploited their position for financial gain – viewing leadership as a job as opposed to a calling and an opportunity for financial gain. Sadly, there are many church leaders who are using their positions of authority primarily to make money and the spiritual well being of the congregation and expanding the Kingdom is of secondary importance. Such leaders will only hinder the spread of the Kingdom and are not worthy to be paid from the offerings of the people of God.
For example, in 1 Timothy 6:5, Paul warns Timothy of teachers of false doctrines who, ‘Have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain’. Moreover in 2 Corinthians 2:17 Paul contrasts his ministry with those who were preaching for selfish financial gain when he says, ‘Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit’. Moreover, 2 Peter 2:3 speaks of false prophets when it says, ‘In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up’.
There are many out workings of the fact that Christian leaders will abuse their positions to exploit money from the people of God. Through pressurized appeals, manipulation, guilt and exaggeration, people can be pressurized into giving financially when it was never the will of God for them to do so. Certainly people need to be aware of opportunities to give and needs that exist but sadly this information can be used to beat people over the head with to make them give. The bible warns in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that we should give joyfully, not because we feel under compulsion or pressure to do so, ‘Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’.
Let us consider some of the examples of manipulation being put on the people of God by Christian leaders. Suppose a Pastor is not bearing fruit and his church is shrinking and so are the church finances to strengthen his position he could warn the congregation that if they don’t stay and bring their tithes into the church then God will not bless them. A further example is a church leader having an alleged ‘Prophetic Word’ for one of the congregation that they are to make a large donation to church funds or the leader himself. If someone says to you ‘God has told me to tell you that you are to give some money’, be very careful and discerning as they might be trying to manipulate you.
Sadly even people with large television ministries can also use very exploiting tactics to pressure people into giving. For example week after week they go on air and say that unless all those who watch and donate to their ministry give more than normal they will go off the air. A further example is that if you send £50 into their ministry head quarters they will pray for the blessing of God on your family. Moreover they may claim that there is a ‘special anointing’ on their ministry and all those who give to their ministry will receive a ‘special blessing’. Finally, they may hold a banquet for their donors and inform that God has revealed to them that there are 5 people in the room who are to give £1000 each consequently, due to manipulation and guilt, one by one people will get their cheque books out.
Perhaps the saddest and most obnoxious part of Christian leaders manipulating people into giving is that they succeed at the expense of those who genuinely, and with the blessing of God, need to share opportunities to give, and very real needs with the people of God. Where as Pastors and Evangelists succeed with manipulation and guilt missionaries who return from the mission field and share stories of great need and lack find themselves at the back of the queue when the people of God get their cheque books out. Instead of widows, orphans, the sick, the lost and the unreached groups being showered with blessings it is stolen away from them greedy, manipulative Christian leaders.
There is no doubt that we should be givers in fact, we should be quick, generous and open handed givers who are willing and happy to give. However, we should be very careful and discerning that we are truly giving to a person, church or cause because it is the will of God that we do so and not because we are reacting to any pressure that has been put on us. Colossians 3:15 says, ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts’ this is a good scripture to apply to giving, we should let peace, not pressure, rule in our hearts when we give. If every Christian applied this rule to their giving then the winners would be the poor, the sick and the needy and the losers would be greedy Christian leaders who abuse their position.
A House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations
Pray for Eritrea
3,850,388 people, Christians & Muslims both 47%
Recovering from war with Ethiopia, several unreached people groups.
This study contains the personal beliefs and practices of of the author who recommends them to the reader. The author takes no credit for their success where applied and likewise takes no responsibility for any failure or disappointment.
The House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations at the end of each section is based on Operation World 21st Century Edition © Patrick Johnstone, Jason Mandryk. Published by Paternoster. All scriptures are NIV © Hodder & Stoughton.