Hope for your financial life and beyond

Give Money and It Shall Be Given Unto You? (Luke 6:38)

Hidden Nuggets Series #77 – “ Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” – Luke 6:38

give and it shall be given unto youI’ve spent a lot of time cataloging all the Bible verses about money. It’s the reason this site was born, to share what I had learned. There are literally hundreds of verses that give us positive instruction about the use and abuse of our money.

Unfortunately, there are many verses in the Bible about money that have been misinterpreted. For whatever reason they are used by individuals (or churches) to teach and promote a message the verse simply doesn’t teach. Of all these verses, there may be none more consistently abused than this statement made by Jesus in Luke 6:38. It reads:

“Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (KJV)

(A bit of housekeeping here: The word mete means “to dispense or allot; to mete something out;” other synonyms would be to allocate, assign or dish out)

So, reading this as a stand-alone verse it would appear Jesus is saying this – “Whatever you give (the implication of “give” being money) you’ll get that back and then some (implied by the terms running over). In other words, God will bless you with money when you give money to Him.

Sounds like a good deal to me! Where do I sign up?

The Proper “Give and It Shall Be Given Unto You” Interpretation

Whenever you read verses in the Bible they must be read and understood in context. What that means is you must look at the surrounding verses to truly understand what is being said. In this case an observation of the verses before and after show us what Luke 6:38 is really about.

Here’s a look at Luke 6:37-42 in it’s entirety:

37“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

38 Give and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

39 And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?

40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

41 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?

42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (NKJV)

Hmmm…I don’t see money mentioned in this passage at all. It seems to be about judgment and forgiveness and worrying about your own issues (plank in eye) instead of pointing out the faults (speck in eye) of those around you.

Now there does seem to be the concept of generosity in Luke 6:38 by the use of the term give. Since that’s so, what are we being generous with if it’s not our money?

The whole interpretation of this passage flows out of the “judge not” message of verse 37. Put simply, Jesus is telling us to be generous (gracious) in how we view people. Don’t be quick to judge their motives or intentions. Give them some slack. Forgive them for their actions.

If however, we are quick to give our judgment, we will receive that same treatment back.

If we give condemning words to every action of another, they will give the same to us in return.

If we fail to give forgiveness, it will be held back from us when we seek it.

I don’t want to be on that end of those equations. So I think I’ll give generously in these areas as I interact with people.

What if Luke 6:38 Was About Money?

In conclusion, I’d like for you to remove yourself from the interpretative aspects of this verse for a minute and think about it logically? What if Luke 6:38 was really about money?

Since I believe the Bible to be true I’d have to take Jesus at his word. If he really meant “give and it shall be given unto you,” he’d be saying, “I will bless you abundantly with money if you give money to me (the church) and other causes that promote my message.” How would that change your strategy for giving?

You can bet I’d be testing out that theory. I’d probably start with giving something small – say $500 – and see if I’d get that (or more) money back somehow.

If I did receive more back than what I’d been given, you can be sure the next check written to the church would be for like ten grand. I might even go take out a loan in order to give. As the money continued to pour back to me from out of the sky, the checks “for Jesus” would get larger and larger. And I’d get richer and richer.

(And just for fun, think about what it would mean in the larger context of how it changes society as everyone else figures this out.)

Who is this scenario happening to? I don’t know of anyone. Yes, I have friends who are being blessed by God and their needs are being taken care of. But they are not automatically being given money because they are giving to the church. It doesn’t work that way.

And I’m glad it doesn’t. If it did, all giving would be reduced to a selfish action. My motivation would be to grow my own wealth. That’s not what God intended our giving motivations to be.

Questions: Have you ever heard someone use Luke 6:38 and the phrase “give and it shall be given unto you” as a giving passage? Do you agree with the interpretation I laid out? If not, how do you see it? What motivates you to give? What do you think would become of the world if money always came back to you when you gave?

Original image by jordandouglas at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: How to Avoid Worrying About These IRS Audit Red Flags

Prior Post: This Is the Difference Between a Smart and Dumb Money Investor

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  1. thank u so much for new understanding.
    this has made me learnt more, even yesterday I read this verse in church to motivates member of their giving pattern, but thank god for another eye opening.
    God bless u

  2. I really and truly appreciate the time of study that had to come to this revelation. I give God all honor and glory for the things He reveals! I too teach and was extremely grieved as well as humbled that the Lord also revealed this revelation to me. We must study to show ourselves approved unto the Lord, rightly dividing the word of truth, workers who will not be made ashamed. Those who are may not mean too, but woe to those who intentionally lead God’s people astray! Now this is the word (seed) that comes back 30,60,100 not money. this has blessed me greatly even a year later.. be blessed!

  3. LUKE 6:38 give and and it shall be given, I have seen allot of preachers use this verse to get a good offering from their congregation ,to me what ever you have plenty of and you see someone that is in need give some of your overflow to that person or persons and GOD will bless your generosity when you are giving from the heart some times it is money and sometimes it is other thins that we have it is possible that it is even your time to someone that just need to talk about their problems sometimes time with that person that is in the hospital it is all giving ,what are we willing to sacrifice.

  4. Brian,
    Great post – thanks for writing it. We need more people that seriously consider the context and purpose of Biblical texts. I agree completely with your analysis of what Luke 6:38 does not mean, but please share more of what it does mean, particularly in regards to handling personal finances.
    NumbersAndSense recently posted…Day 4: The Debt SnowballMy Profile

    • Well, that’s just it…I don’t think it does have application to personal finance…except when people take it out of context.

  5. I think even though this verse is taken out of context, I think the message is still good — if you give money to others who need it, it won’t be ‘lost’ and you might get back more somehow in the future, although it’s not always in monetary form. Of course, when you give you shouldn’t expect something in return, but rest assured it will give you more blessings in life.
    Suburban Finance recently posted…One Surprisingly Simple Tool to Curb Your SpendingMy Profile

    • TXMack713 says:

      Good morning, I’m writing to challenge your statement that when we give we shouldn’t expect something in return. I would say that based on the verses that come to mind that that’s not the case: “A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25), “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3) , “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7) (Yes, I am aware that in this context Paul was talking about sowing into the spirit vs sowing into the flesh, but I think that statement applies to all areas of our life and our physical world, i.e., you can’t sow an apple seed and expect a banana tree to grow)…. Okay, I’m done with that now. 🙂

      I know that scripture can be taken out of context and people at times try to manipulate it to mean what they want it to mean rather than what it actually says and that can be and is very dangerous to that individual and those with whom they share their interpretation without fact-checking it to ensure that it does indeed say that. Can the principle in this verse be applied to other areas of our lives, I think so. I’m learning that there are different types of giving and rules that accompany that giving, as well as the state of the soil of the person, people, or organizations you’re giving to that come into play and affect the results (blessings, returns, protections, etc…) of that giving. I’m not going to pretend to have mastered/figured all of this out as there’s quite a bit that I need to study, pray about and get revelation on before I can speak with any type of authority on it. However, I do believe that the God who multiplied the fish and loaves among the 5,000 and 4,000 is able to multiply our seeds and the store of our seeds when it comes to monetary giving (2nd Corinthians 9:5-13).

      • I totally agree,the person or persons who say God excludes money in the scripture is a liar and the truth isn’t in him,they are full of Greed everything runs off of money in this world,you can spend your money without question in everything else but when it comes to God and the church there’s a problem,why is that.

  6. I agree with you Brian. There are lots of verses in the bible that seem to be misleading and context is the solution to get the real meaning and for us to infer it. So, we’d better read it between the lines.
    Jayson recently posted…Saving Money On Non-perishables OnlineMy Profile

  7. This is a verse that seems to be almost always taken out of context. I do believe that God does bless those that give, but I don’t think it’s necessarily related to this verse.
    Brian Cline recently posted…JavaScript IsNumeric FunctionMy Profile

    • “…God does bless those that give…” I agree Brian…I think that can be proved in other places of the Bible but not here. And most times the blessings that come are in the heart, not the wallet.

  8. I’ve heard this verse taken out of context often! I’ve been discovering lately that reading passages in context and considering the author’s purpose completely obliterates improper reading. Thanks for the reminder.
    Janeen recently posted…Our Financial Journey: Diving into DebtMy Profile

    • “…reading passages in context…” It’s probably the biggest factor to truly understanding the Bible. Anyone can rip one verse out of the Bible and make it mean what they want it to. More difficult to do when taken in context with the surrounding verse.

  9. uclalien says:

    The thought that this verse may not be about money at all is a new one to me. But it seems like a reasonable explanation given the context. I appreciate the new perspective.

    The interpretation I have heard most often is a combination of the two you present. You should be charitable (with your money, time, etc.) and expect blessings in return, but that those blessings won’t necessarily come back in monetary form.

    The thought that Jesus was saying, “If you give money, you will get a larger amount of money in return,” flies in the face of what he said only a handful of verses earlier, “Blessed are you who are poor…Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” and “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”

    Giving is an act of love, compassion, and obedience, not an investment strategy.

  10. Thanks for this Brian – so many verses are taken out of context – “an eye for an eye”, “the rich rule over the poor”… your commentary is pretty timely especially with so many “preaching” prosperity.

    • “…with so many “preaching” prosperity.” Sadly, that is where you’ll hear this taken out of context the most…in the pulpit at churches. Too bad because some people are blindly giving to the church and don’t have enough money to pay their bills.

      • Linda Mills says:

        The scripture that says whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap! What so ever it is, whether it be money, forgiveness, love, kindness etc etc whatever you sow you will reap! You reap good when you sow good! And Malachi speaking about tithe, God said he would open up the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing you couldn’t contain! In that same verse God said prove me! I don’t believe God will ever asked us to give what we do not have to give, but when he blesses us financially we should bless others who are in need and we should bless our church to carry on God’s work!

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