We don’t give to get.
That statement sounds good, spiritual even. And I certainly hear a whole lot of Christians repeat that phrase. But unfortunately, it’s not really true.
Manipulation Is Wrong
It is true that we believers do not give to manipulate or control others into doing what we want them to do. Manipulating others, or attempting to control them outside of legitimate authority is witchcraft. Mammon applies that witchcraft to money related issues. Any mammon based witchcraft is always wrong. We absolutely cannot manipulate God into doing anything for us.
It is obviously wrong to use generosity as a form of manipulation to try and force God to give you what you want. That’s what James was getting at when he said this,
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.— James 4:3 (NKJV)
At the same time, the Bible makes a great many promises that are directly tied our generosity. Is it ever wrong to receive a promise of God? Of course not. Receiving God’s promises is the way God provides for us to escape the corruption of this world (2 Peter 1:4).
So if God promises something to us, we can receive that promise by faith. Believing God’s promises written in the Bible is one way we sow to the spirit like Paul talks about in Galatians 6:8.
One example is found in Romans 10:9 where we are told that anyone who confesses Jesus as Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved.
How We Receive
Paul also says it this way:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”— Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
While this passage specifically deals with salvation, we see in that verse how the promises of God work. God’s grace provides the promise. But it is not until we choose to believe that promise and receive it by faith that we experience the benefits of that promise. We can’t take any credit for the process because God is the one who provides the promises and who fulfills them.
In the case of salvation, Romans 10:9 just details exactly how we receive that particular promise: we confess and we believe.
Anything we receive from God (i.e. what we get from Him) comes only in response to what He promises us. And the only way we can receive anything from God is by faith, meaning we choose to believe His promise and take action of some kind in accordance with our belief in it.
So we must consider whether God makes any promises in scripture to give anything back to us when we give to others. If He does, then in those cases there would be nothing at all wrong with “giving to get” what He promises to give us.
Promises to Benefit Us
Here are some passages for your consideration.
“He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD,— Proverbs 19:17 (NKJV)
And He will pay back what he has given.”
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”— Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”— Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)
Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”— Mark 4:24-25 (NKJV)
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.”— Mark 10:29-31 (NKJV)
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”— Luke 12:32-34 (NKJV)
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”— Luke 6:38 (NKJV)
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”— 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NKJV)
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”— 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NKJV)
“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”— 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 (NKJV)
Those ten passages are a small sampling of the great many where God makes a promise to us about giving and/or money. Whether it is about helping the poor, laying up treasures in heaven, the core principle of sowing and reaping, or receiving a hundredfold return in this life, God makes a great many explicit promises to us which He ties to our generosity.
These and so much more are there in God’s word ready for us to “get” from our giving. Jesus even outright says, “Give and it will be given to you…”
How can believers not see Jesus explicitly instructing us to “give to get” in that verse?
Even those who claim an altruistic desire only to lay up treasures in heaven, as if that is the only giving-related promise God makes in the Bible, still do expect to receive something for their generosity. If we’re being honest, they also are giving to get. They’re just on a deferred payment plan.
Please understand there is nothing wrong with that, notwithstanding the fact that there are like eleventy-bajillion other promises we can receive, including some that are clearly for “now in this time.”
Personally, I believe God is big enough to bless me both in eternity and in this life, especially because I see where He promises to do that very thing in His word.
So can we please stop the lie where we pretend we don’t ever give to get?
Getting is Part of Faith
We all know that without faith it is impossible to please God, don’t we. But when we understand why that’s true, it totally shuts down the, “we don’t give to get” lie. Look at the verse:
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”— Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)
This verse says that in order to be in faith and please God two things must be in our lives:
- We must believe that God exists.
- We must believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
For those who might be unclear, rewards are something we get. It doesn’t say that we “might” believe that God rewards us. We must believe it.
There’s nothing wrong with getting from God. It’s exactly what we’re supposed to do. The Bible does say He is Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide). And Jesus said He is well pleased to give us the Kingdom to meet all our needs (Luke 12:30-32). In fact, the above verse in Hebrews tells us that believing we will get rewards from God is actually a requirement for us to be in faith.
The key is to believe for the things God promises in the Bible. After all, that’s how we experience the Kingdom of God in our lives. Where it goes sideways is when we give to get things God never promises to us.