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
I’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?