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Pastoral 2013

Should We Give Till It Hurts?


Is it biblically correct to say: “Give, even at all costs, till it hurts”? Is it wrong to give until it hurts? Doesn’t the Bible teach us not to give grudgingly? So is it proper to give in a way that would hurt us?

There is nothing unbiblical in saying: let us give to the Lord’s work even if it hurts our pockets. It simply means let us be sacrificial in our giving and service to God. In fact, it is a biblical doctrine that Christians should give generously, even sacrificially (Mark 10:21; Luke 12:33; Matthew 19:21; 6:18-19; Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:34-35; 36-37).

The giving up of all possessions in order to help the poor was once used by Jesus as a test of a person’s claim of spirituality. Jesus’ conversation with a rich young ruler who came to Him, recorded in Mark 10:21, is such an incident. “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (cf. Luke 12:33; Matthew 19:21; 6:18-19). True devotion to God will stir one’s heart to give up things that he values the most in his life for God’s glory. A true disciple of Christ is willing to surrender whatever He demands.

In fact, nothing less than life itself is demanded of Christ’s disciples. He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Christ made similar demands of such total sacrifice repeatedly in the Bible — “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38); “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34); “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23); “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

In the light of all the above claims of Christ, it is startling that too many who claim to be Christians today cherish a life of pleasure and prosperity, which is devoid of sacrifice. True Christians rejoice to give their utmost to the glory of the One whom they love the most, even the Lord Jesus Christ. They live a life of living sacrifice. They do not give loans to Christ but gifts, even their very best. They do not look for incentives and accolades, but for opportunities to serve sacrificially.

True Christians are willing to be sacrificial even when it hurts because they follow Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a sacrifice for their redemption. When it comes to giving of their wealth, they are not only willing to give generously, but even sacrificially to all His good purposes. The Lord taught all His followers, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

In the early church, it was common for believers to give up all for the needs of the church. Acts 2:44-45 records: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” On several other occasions also, early believers have shown such a sacrificial spirit (cf. Acts 4:34-35; 36-37).

In our own church history, I know of those who have given much out of the little they have (not as some others who give a little out of the much they have). Sacrificial giving will certainly hurt the pocket. I know of certain fathers who teach their children to give to the Lord’s work from the money they have been keeping for buying toys, sports equipment, etc. Such deeds do hurt their pockets and their hearts. But if they, being convicted by the Lord, give dutifully and cheerfully, then it is good and commendable. I also know of a Christian couple who saved up money for a bigger flat, but gave all of that to a particular need in the Lord’s work.

I would also like to point out that when 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “...let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity”, it is not prohibiting us from giving till it hurts. The prohibition is against unhappy giving. Even though our giving may hurt us, we can endure our difficulties happily for the glory of the Lord. Christian activities are often filled with what appear to be paradoxical experiences. Consider the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). One would ask, “How is it possible that giving away your possessions will be a blessing to you?” Yet, we know it is certainly the case. So are other paradoxical experiences of believers: “And David was greatly distressed; ... but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6); “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10); “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities” (2 Corinthians 12:9); “Blessed are they that mourn... they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4); and many more such instances.

When the Lord directs us to lay down our money or even our lives, we should do it without hesitation. Even though we would experience hurt or pain, we should give in obedience to the Lord who commands us. Such a total surrender that empties oneself of all his possessions, and even his life, is only possible when the great loving sacrifice of Jesus is fully appreciated and adored. In 1 John 3:16, we are taught, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (Romans 16:4; Philippians 2:17, 30). No sacrifice is too great to make for the One who gave Himself for us.

In the Lord’s kingdom, great things are achieved only by those who unhesitatingly sacrifice much. We must be prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of the greater good of the multitudes. Don’t you remember the little boy who gave all his food — 5 loaves and 2 fishes — in order that a large, hungry crowd of more than 5,000 people might be fed? Without being willing to give sacrificially, nothing can be achieved in good time. To gain that which really matters in eternity, it may be necessary to lose everything else.


However, there is a need to warn you against religious charlatans who take advantage of the sacrificial generosity of obliging Christians. Certain mega churches and their pastors have been taking advantage of unsuspecting and sacrificial members in their congregations. Our disagreement with the mega churches is the way they use the saying “Give, till it hurts” to justify the unbiblical purpose for which the funds are collected, and also the abuse of such funds of the church. We also disagree with their unbiblical ways of collection – all kinds of secular fund-raising methods. It is also equally disturbing to us that they abuse good and biblical ideas and activities for their ungodly and selfish purposes.

When it comes to giving to the Lord’s work (and raising funds for the same), many will become uneasy and falsely charge us as though we behave like those mega churches and other money-minded religious charlatans. But we have nothing to worry as long as none of us is profiteering from the funds, but use them for God’s glory — the extension of the Lord’s kingdom and the support of the needy.