for the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. [2 corinthians 2:9]
the prosperity gospel has been mentioned several times in recent sermons and the ‘in the presence of God’ posts and i want to address it head-on here as a means to help us understand the ‘why’ of giving:
the obvious (to those who love the bible) and blatant error of false teachers who preach the prosperity gospel is that quite simply – we give to get. we sow to reap into our own bank accounts. we give the material things to prove our faith and thus benefit in the form of health and wealth. this false gospel is poisoning the world, and as americans lean into this teaching and perpetuate it, we are exporting it to those who need the real gospel of Jesus Christ.
even though the brothers and sisters i walk with would vehemently stand against this false gospel, we still support it at its core when we believe the more subtle and insidious manifestations of the false prosperity gospel: we give to avoid guilt, we give begrudgingly, we give to prove our love, we give because it checks a box or fulfills a formula. these quieter manifestations are purely transactional, and ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of the church because they are practical for gaining volunteers and growing offerings to support ministry and far less narcissistic looking than the blatant prosperity gospel.
augustine used the latin term ‘incurvatus in se’ to refer to the condition of sin–in english it means “a turned in or curved in on oneself”–which is precisely what all of this subtle and not-so-subtle prosperity gospel is: sin.
the ‘why’ of godly, living, willing, and generous giving breaks the back of the prosperity gospel. in joy, we glorify God by giving of our time and money so that we supply the physical and spiritual needs of saints and would-be saints. we give because we want them to know our generous God. It is not ‘incurvatus in se’, our giving is directed outward, away from ourselves, radiating from Christ in us, our hope in God’s magnificent glory.
the result of this giving and supplying is overflowing, deep abiding gratitude– “many thanksgivings” for all the gifts of God, and all the gifts of God are found in the person and work of Christ. if i have nothing else, but have Christ, then i have everything.
o Lord, help me to believe it!
all i have is Christ!
Jesus is my life!