The famous minister, Benny Hinn, is one of many who promises that if you are generous, God will reward you financially. “Divine prosperity is God’s will for every believer!” Hinn says, “All we must do to receive God’s blessings and abundance is to obey him.” How do we obey God? By giving. “Sow seed with great expectation of a powerful overflow in your life. Then get ready for it to be multiplied back to you abundantly. Yes, a seed may seem small in your hand, but when you sow seed in expectant faith, you release its God-given potential to produce a supernatural outpouring: ‘He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully’ (2 Corinthians 9:6).”[i]
The fourth reason Paul offers for giving is found here in 2 Corinthians 9:6, the promise that the one who “sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” That’s a pretty wild promise. Are Hinn and the other prosperity preachers correct in asserting that God promises financial reward for those who give?
Open the Windows of Heaven
Malachi 3:10 certainly seems to echo this sentiment as well, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
The answer is that God does promise a blessing for those who give, but he does not promise a financial blessing. God is no divine IRS agent, caught in his own loopholes, forced to dole out financial blessings. That misunderstands the character of God and the nature of his blessings. God’s purpose with us is shaping us to look like him.[ii] God’s blessings, then, are given just as his discipline is given: to shape us to look like Jesus Christ.
The Cup of Blessing
Paul, in fact, in describing the Lord’s Supper, describes the cup as a “cup of blessing,” which is “a participation in the blood of Christ.”[iii] Participating in the suffering of Christ is a blessing, Paul says. Not exactly the shape of the blessing promised by the prosperity teachers. In Ephesians 1, Paul defines “every spiritual blessing” as his predestination, his adoption, his redemption, his forgiveness.
That isn’t to say God might not choose to bless us financially or materially, but those blessings are always lesser blessings, and God is certainly not bound to bless us in such a manner when we give. Do you sponsor a child through Compassion International or a similar organization? There are no words for the blessing of the correspondence with the children in the program. Just last night I read the latest letter from one of the two children we sponsor, who wrote, “I pray for you every night. I feel as though you are part of my family.” That, dear friends, is a blessing! That is reaping bountifully!
And so, with this in mind, give that you might be blessed! Give that you might reap bountifully! Give that the windows of heaven might be opened up!
Photo credit: Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash
[ii] As Paul says in Romans 8:29: “For those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”
[iii] 1 Corinthians 10:16