Q. In your Aug 9, 2009, response to “Tithing: Cause and Effect,” your second sentence, below, sounds so much like the Prosperity Doctrine taught on some web sites. Is the entire message of those sites, therefore, suspect?
You said, “When we give solely out of gratitude, not expecting anything in return, God is free to bless us. But when we give with an expectation of receiving we’re actually being greedy, not grateful, and the motive of our heart is wrong.”
It is precisely the evident greed and lavish life styles of some “ministers of God,” when I am often just “squeaking by,” that discourages me from tithing. (That, and my own greed, to be truthful.)
A. According to 1 Cor. 4:5 It’s the motive behind our actions that determines how the Lord views them. If we send money to a ministry because we believed the minister when he or she said the Lord would send us 10 times as much back, it’s obvious our motive is not generosity, but greed. James said, “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3)
The fatal flaw in the so-called prosperity gospel is that it appeals to the wrong motives.
But this doesn’t apply just to money. The same can also be said of things we do with an expectation of public recognition, or expressions of gratitude from the recipient, or even self satisfaction. The only acceptable motive for our giving is gratitude to the Lord for what He’s given us. That’s why He told us to do our good deeds in secret, and to be so careful in our giving that if possible our left hand wouldn’t know what our right hand was doing. He said we should do these things in such a way that only He can see them. (Matt. 6:1-4)