Something that I heard frequently at my old church was the phrase "You must give to get." This was always in reference to giving money and it was in order to get money, health, and material things. I still get a knot in the pit of my stomach thinking about how much money I did give at that church. How could I have been so blinded?
God gave us freely a way of salvation. We did not have to do anything except receive it. There is no penance required for salvation or forgiveness. How much more would we have to pay for healing? How much more would we have to pay for our needs met? NOTHING! Christ paid for our salvation and our healing. In Matthew 6:25-34, God promised us that if he would take care of the grass and the birds then he will take care of us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 says "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."
Going back to the quote in Matthew, Jesus said that the pagans run after things like clothing. God knows we need food, clothing, and shelter. But we are commanded to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This does not mean that we play church. This does not mean that we try our best to impress our pastor. This does not mean that we follow man. This does not mean that we must give tithes and offerings. *Please do not misconstrue that last sentence as me saying we should not give money to the local church. This means that what God leads you to do, you do it. This means that you should search the scriptures to learn about Him. Spend time talking to Him and worshiping Him.
I think back about how the message "Give to Get" was preached and now I can't help but to think about Simon the Sorcerer who tried to buy the ability to lay hands on people and they receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8:20-23 "Peter answered: 'May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.'" I was like Simon the sorcerer trying to buy things from God. I was like the pagan running after material things.
I will say it again God gave freely. We can not do anything to buy it. Instead of being taught this, we were taught that if we were going to give 50 dollars we should give 100. If we were going to give 100 we should give 200, and on and on and on. At that point it does not become worship, it is coercion. They used intimidation to obtain compliance. They just called it "the double". It has become increasingly clear to me these past few months that the sermons I was sitting under for years did not focus on seeking after the kingdom of God but rather seeking after material things. Paul said in Philippians 3:18-19 "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." My mind was on earthly things, but I was taught to have my mind on earthly things by my own pastor.
Prosperity preachers, like former pastor, are constantly wanting you to give them money. They say it is because they are "good ground" for you to give to. Because God has made them to prosper. Well, think about this: It is people like you and I who have made these men prosperous. And you may see them give gifts to other prosperity preachers, usually ones more well known then they are. But it is rare to see them give the money to people who actually need it. It is even more rare to see a prosperity preacher reject an offering just so that he can show that he is offering the gospel free of charge. Paul did just that in 1 Corinthians 9. Where is the "good ground" in giving to rich men who give money only to other rich men?