Gratitude or Greed?

Q. When we give to God we’re supposed to give without expecting anything but out of gratitude. But when I read 2 Cor. 9: 6 where it says “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” it appears as if it encourages giving with expectations of returns from God because a sower expects harvest when sowing. What is your thought on this?

A. Obviously God wants us to understand that there’s a cause and effect relationship between our generosity toward others and His generosity toward us. Otherwise He wouldn’t have written it in His word. The analogy of the sower and the harvest in 2 Cor. 9:6 is meant to convey that idea. But the fact remains that our motive for giving to others has to be gratitude for what the Lord has already given us. As soon as we start giving with the expectation of a future return our motive has changed from gratitude to greed. When that happens God no longer sees us as being generous givers because He knows that no matter how large they are, the motive behind our gifts is personal gain.

This is the fatal flaw in the so-called prosperity gospel. Its teachers say, “If you need $1,000 dollars give me $100 and the Lord will multiply your gift tenfold.” The motive behind giving of that sort is not gratitude for what we’ve already received but the expectation of what we will receive. People who respond are not sharing the Lord’s generosity toward them in order to help others, they’re investing for a return to meet their own needs. This is why for the most part the only people who benefit from the prosperity gospel are the people who teach it.

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