Charles Stanley - You Can Never Outgive God
Well, when you think about your finances, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Is it how much you have? Or how much you lack? Or what you owe? Or what you can do to improve your finances? What's the first thing that comes to your mind? Your desires, your needs? I wonder where in all those questions this idea comes: how much more could I give?
So, when you think about your finances and where you are today, ask yourself the question, among all those that I asked: how much do I have? How much do I need? What do I desire? What do I lack? What can I do to improve it all? The question you need to think about this morning, sincerely and honestly and openly with the Word of God, is this: how much more should I give? Because here is a principle, and a principle cannot be changed. Things come and go, principles don't change. The principle is this: you cannot out-give God. You cannot. Nobody ever has, nobody ever will. You cannot out-give God. It is a basic principle of life.
Now, if it's a basic principle of life, it can't be changed. And if it's a basic principle of life and it can't be changed, then I would be foolish not to give God what He requires and what He asks. And then I would be less wise if I did not ask the question: well, if I have a need, how much more do I need to give Him. Because, listen, you can't make a debtor out of God. You will never match what He will do for you. It's just that simple. But it all boils down to this: do I believe it or do I not? And the only way you will ever be convinced as to whether God will give you more when you give Him more is just one way. You can go to a counselor. You can listen to preaching. You can read the Bible. You can read books. You can go to seminars. You can go all the only way you'll ever be convinced of that is to try it.
When I have a need, it's time to give more. And I can tell you this, and I'd never say anything you don't hear me bragging about anything, but I can tell you this: in all of my years of giving, any time I have upped my giving, God just said, "Well, let Me show you". You absolutely, under no condition can ever out-give God or He would not be God. So, with that in mind, turn to Luke chapter six. And I just want to read one verse. And I hope you'll take some good notes this morning because it can affect your money. And usually, whatever affects people's money gets their attention. So I should have your attention this morning. Look at this, I just want to read one verse. Luke chapter six, verse thirty eight. "Give, and it will be given to you". He doesn't say where, how. He says, "It will be given to you". "They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return".
So, I want us to think about several things here that are so very important. And I'm going to give you several Scriptures that I trust that you'll write down. And what you need to do with these Scriptures is to go home and say, "Okay, God". In other words, you can sit and take notes and put them somewhere, but if you go home and take these Scriptures and say, "Okay God, how does this apply to my life? You know all about my finances. You know what I need, what I desire, what I owe. You know what's coming down the road that I don't know about. How does this apply to my life? If it is a principle, and it is, show me how to make application of this principle in my life today". You cannot out-give God.
So, let's think. First of all, consider the basic teachings of Scripture about our possessions. And they'll all be up here on the on the mag screens. First of all, God owns it all. He owns every single thing. And He says in His Word in Psalm fifty, "The world is Mine, and all it contains". None of us would really object to that simple truth because He does. He is the Creator of it all and He owns it all. He has the right to give us direction as to how we are to use it. You and I are not owners, we're managers. That's what we are, we're managers. We're stewards. He has placed into our possession a certain amount of, whether it's money or other responsibilities we have and assets we have in life. He's placed them there. And He has given us the responsibility of managing those.
Now, here's when people get in trouble. People get in trouble with their finances when they begin to look at their finances as if it's theirs. This is mine, that's mine, the other is mine. "My" money, "my" house, "my" car, "my" boat, "my" golf, "my" photography, "my" this, "my" that, "my" the other, then where is God in all that? If He owns it all, He has the right to tell me how much of what He's given to me He wants back from me. So, I have to ask myself the question: do I believe the principle that you cannot out-give God? If you believe that and you practice that, whatever the need is, God is obligated to supply that need no matter what.
Now, watch this, that being true, what does that mean? Listen carefully, I want you to watch this first, look this way. If this represents the hand of God and all I have comes from Him, then what, listen, whatever I give back to Him came from Him to begin with. So if you have ten-tenths, it all came to you. And so, you say, "Well, I'm going to give Him back one-tenth". Well, where did the one-tenth come from? It came from Him also. Everything you and I have comes from God. And He says so. If you want your needs met, remember that you can't out-give Him.
You say, "Well, I don't have anything to give". Everybody has something to give. But oftentimes, people find themselves, because they've mismanaged their money, with credit cards oftentimes, and they find themselves in trouble. And they get in trouble not because God's in trouble, not because God's not answering prayer, but because they've strayed from the simple principle. And that is: I'm to live a godly life. And in so doing, God will never allow me to give Him more than He gives me in return. And so, when you look at that, and we consider the basic teachings of Scripture concerning our giving, let's start in Malachi chapter three.
So, look in the eighth verse when God is reprimanding His people And He says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings," is His answer. "You're cursed with a curse". That is, you're losing it. "For you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe," that's ten percent, into the storehouse," which in those days was the temple, the days of the church, "so that there may be food in My house, test Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not," here's what I want you to notice, "open you the windows," not crack the door, but, "open you the windows of heaven and pour," not trickle out, "pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer. I will protect what I give you so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground," will not be destroyed, "nor your vine, says the Lord of hosts. And all the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land, says the Lord of hosts".
Now, there's the absolute basic, bottom line, primary, elementary truth about giving, that out of His hand comes everything. He says, "What I want you to do is to give Me one-tenth of it back". Now, why does He say that? Because He needs it? No. He said, "To prove Him". He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to test. Test, as He says, what's He's saying here? Test Me, He says, and see what will happen. And when you and I give to Him as an act of obedience, we are honoring Him. We are testing His principles. We're trusting Him. And we're giving Him the opportunity to show us what He's up to in life.
Now, it's interesting, if you turn to second Corinthians chapter nine. And I want you to turn there because I'm coming back to it several times. And here's what the Scripture says. He says in verse seven of this ninth chapter of second Corinthians, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver". I'm to be happy when the offering plate comes. Why? Here's the reason why: the offering plate is not a time for me to be reminded, "Oh, I must give. It is a time for me to think about thank God I have the privilege of honoring Him. He's proven to be true to me. He's answering my prayer". In other words, giving should be a joyful thing, a happy thing. And remember, I'm going to say this twenty times probably, you cannot out-give God.
So, if I'm not receiving what I need and what I want in life that fits His will for my life, there must be something going on. Instead of, I'm having my hands open, I must have them closed. My will, my way, my timing, instead of His will, His way. He says, "We're to bring the tithe. We're to do it cheerfully, happily, thanking God we have it to give". There are four specific reasons, four specific purposes that you and I should keep in mind when we give on a Sunday morning. And the first one is this: as He says, to provide for His work. And then to prove His faithfulness. He says, "Test Me. Put Me to the test and let me show you what I'll do".
So, here's what I'd ask: if you've never tithed, are you afraid that somehow He's made this promise He's not going to keep? In other words, are you afraid that somehow if you give him one penny out of every dime that you have, God can't handle it? You say, "Well, that's penny one thing, ten dollars out of a hundred and hundred out of a thousand is something else. No, it's not. It's the same thing. People cheat themselves. It's just that simple. You cannot out-give God. So, we give for His work, prove His faithfulness, and to provide for the needs of others. And the needs of others are many. It isn't just clothing and food and all the rest. The greatest need in the world is the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And in that second Corinthians passage, ninth chapter and the ninth and twelfth verses, that's what He's referring to. Then likewise, it properly honors God. You cannot out-give Him. And if you can't out give Him, the wisest thing to do is to ask the question: okay, Lord, then what do You want me to do about all this? Now, which brings me to the third point. Now, what's God's plan to give to us? And the first thing I would say about that is simply this: His motivation is pure love. He doesn't need us. But His motivation for giving to us is that He loves us. He didn't have to put a rainbow in the sky. He doesn't have to do many things that He does for us that are absolutely, simply an expression of His love. And when you think about that, it isn't what you and I deserve. If we only got what we deserve, we'd all be in poverty. But His love for us is unconditional.
Now, His blessings toward us are not unconditional, because if I disobey Him, violate His principles, violate His principles financially, then I'm going to suffer the consequence. And so, that's one thing. But His awesome, unconditional love has nothing to do with whether I obey Him or not. That remains the same. Whether I'm able to enjoy Him and the blessings He has depends upon my obedience to Him. Now, the scope of this, that is, when we talk about what He gives us. What's His plan? Here's God's plan, listen carefully, God's plan is to give you and me every single thing, not just money, every single thing or relationship or whatever it might be, every single thing that fits His will and purpose and plan for our life. It is a commitment to give us every single thing we need that fits His will and His purpose and His plan for our life.
Now, which means that God isn't going to come up short anywhere. If I come up short, it's simply because I have violated some truth. I violated some command of His and it positioned myself so that when I come to Him, it's not hands up, it's hands down. I've had my way, and therefore you could put all kind of money on the top of my hand, it won't last. But I can hold a great deal when my hand is open. God's great blessings come to His children who are living obedient to Him and who want His way and His will. So, when somebody says, "Now, wait a minute, you can't tell me that God's going to answer my hmmm hmmm hmmm".
Well, you didn't get it all. I said He will supply every need and every desire that fits His will and purpose and plan for your life, conditioned upon our willingness to be obedient to Him and walk in His will. So it's foolish not to live a godly life. If you're not living a godly life and you're having financial problems, don't blame God. You can't even blame the economy. In other words, God can give you anything and everything He wants you to have. But there are requirements. First of all, we said the reason we give to Him is because we want to honor Him. If I honor Him as my God and the only true God, if I truly honor Him, it isn't just a matter of giving Him money. I want to love Him and obey Him in every aspect of my life.
So, what I want to do is I want to take you through some verses. I want you to watch the words over and over and over again. And let's go back to Malachi just for a moment because I want you to get this good. Because when you go home, listen, if I were having a financial problem, when I got home, I'd go somewhere and get on my face before God and say, "Okay, Lord, here's what Your Word says. Beginning today, I'm making a change. I'm going to stop blaming the economy. I'm going to stop blaming You, God. I'm going to stop blaming my boss. I'm going to stop blaming others. I'm going to look to You, and here's what You said. You said, if I would bring my tithe, You would do the following thing, You would open," now, listen to this, "Open the windows of heaven, pour out a blessing until it," does what? "Until it overflows".
Now, watch, what I want you to see is how God works. In other words, He's not just giving us a little bit. He says, "I'm going to give you enough that it's going to be overflowing". And then I want you to turn back to our original text in this sixth chapter of Luke. And notice what He says in this thirty eighth verse. He says, first of all, give. Now, I'm glad He didn't say what because it includes everything. Do you want love, you've got to give it. You want friendship, you've got to give it. If you want food, if you're a farmer, you've got to sow the seed.
Now, look at this, "Give," no matter what it is, 'it will be given to you". You say, "But it doesn't say how". God owns it all. He's the one who instructs others to give to us or whatever it might be. "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour," that is, God will arrange it to be not sprinkled into your lap, poured into your lap, not... "a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over. For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return". So therefore, if I start with ten percent of my income, giving it to God, what has God promised to do? Give it to you back? No. Overflowing, pressed down, shaken together, all-sufficiency for all needs. That's who He is. You cannot out-give Him because of, listen, God is an awesomely generous God who desires to bless His children. And what we do is when we tithe, it's like we prime the pump. And that is, when we give to Him, He's going to give back, not what we gave Him, but more than that in many ways.
And when I think about people who are going through problems and heartaches with their finances, and yet, they still say, "I can't afford to give. I can hardly pay my bills". You want to get God in on paying your bills? Well, give Him something. He says, "Test Me, try Me, just give Me the privilege of showing you what I will do". In all these fifty something years as a pastor, nobody's ever come to me and said, "I started tithing and I went broke". Or, "I started tithing and I have less than I've ever had before". No, not a single person. When you obey God, remember this, God, by His very nature, He cannot do otherwise. God cannot do otherwise than bless you when you obey Him when it comes to finances or any other thing, but we're talking about finances.
So, things aren't going very well with you? You say, "Well, what shall I do"? Ask yourself the question: what do you want God to do for you? You say, "Well, you mean to tell me that God is interested in my personal finances"? Yes, yes He is. Well, what's the next step? Here's the next step, ask yourself this question: God, how much more do You want me to give You than I'm giving? You say, "But I can hardly pay my bills". How much more do You want me to give You than I'm giving? Watch this, what is faith? Faith says, "I'm willing to take Him at His Word and watch Him work". God will transform your finances when we do what? When we trust Him. Give Him the privilege and watch Him work. It's that simple.
Now, let me just give you this verse right here. In in Romans chapter eight, the apostle Paul said something that I go to often because it's such an awesome verse. It's a question. Listen to what he says, eighth chapter of Romans in verse thirty two, look at this, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all," in order to save us, "how will He not also with Him freely give us all things"? If you want to know how much God loves you and how generous He is, look at the cross. And here's what He's saying, "If I would do this for you, would I not do everything that you need Me to do"? Yes, He will. When Jesus talked about coming, here's what He said, He says, "I've come to give you life, life more abundantly".
You see, God speaks in terms of abundance, overflowing, generosity, pressed down, shaken together, all-sufficient for all needs, whatever, if we're willing to trust Him. And so, my plea to you is simply this: give God a chance. Give Him the privilege of demonstrating to you in your life what He's willing to do if you will do exactly what He says. You say, "Well, now, suppose next week I raise my giving to five dollars"? Here's what I'd say, "You won't stay there long". You know what you'll do? When God begins to work in your life and your finances, you're going to say, "I think I'm going to raise it five more. I'm going to raise it five more. I'm going to raise it twenty-five and see what He does". You say, "Oh, you know what? That's not the way God operates". I dare you to try. I challenge any person to try increasing their income to God and see what happens.
Now, if you're going to live like the devil, it won't work. Now, watch, if you're not committed to living a godly life, don't ask God to help you. But if you are, if you're willing to live as obediently as you know how, not perfectly. And you ask God, "Lord, here's what I'm going to do. In fact, Lord, all it looks like I can afford right now is to add one dollar next week," whatever, wherever you go to church. Try. You say, "You mean to tell me that God's going to honor if I offer one dollar more"? Try it. Just give Him a try and see what He does. All He's looking, all He's asking for is, "Put Me to the test, give Me the privilege".
Now, this is a real simple sermon. This is how simple it is: can't out-give God. If you don't believe it, try it. Whole sermon, one sentence. I know you're thinking, "Well, why didn't you tell us that first? Because I wanted you to get the foundation. I wanted you to understand. Now, you may not be a Christian and you're saying, "Well, how does that fit me"? It doesn't fit you until you ask the Lord Jesus Christ to save you and to forgive you of your sins and you surrender your life to Him. Then you're in a position for God to begin to bless you.
Now, listen carefully, If you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, look, you're going to go through life, it's just going to get worse and worse. If you'll trust Him as your Savior, surrender your life to Him, your life will radically change for the good. If you're a believer, not a member of our fellowship, you don't give to God, you're just sort of doing your free-wheeling thing, life's going to get worse, not going to get any better until you do what you know, simple A, B, C. If I can count to ten, I can obey God. Is there anybody here who cannot count to ten? Raise your hand. Anybody? Then we're all prospects for tithing right? We can count to ten. And we're all prospects for trusting God and watching what He does in our life.