Hope for your financial life and beyond

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

“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. I started this site years ago so that I could share what I learned about money from reading the Bible. There are literally hundreds of verses that give us positive instruction and warnings about the proper use and abuse of our money.

Unfortunately, individuals and churches have misinterpreted many verses in the Bible about money. It’s easy to do. Sometimes the verses are actually hard to interpret. Other times however, people do it to promote an agenda. In other words, people use these verses to teach and promote a message that isn’t there.

Of all the verses in the Bible about money, people abuse Luke 6:38 probably more than any other verse. 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)

Why misinterpret this verse so much? Because many have chosen to believe or teach that this verse means you can profit financially from giving. Let’s look at why this is incorrect.

The Common Misinterpretation

Before we go on, a bit of clarification on the verse is in order. In the King James Version, the word mete means “to dispense or allot; to mete something out.” Similar words would be to allocate, assign or dish out.

So, if you read this as a stand-alone verse, it would appear Jesus says something odd. Whatever you give (the implication of “give” being money), you’ll automatically get that (money) back.

But not only that, you’ll get money back and then some (implied by the terms running over). Just picture a cup that you continually fill. You keep filling it up and eventually it will run up to and over the rim.

Put simply, the common misinterpretation is that God will give money to you when you give money to Him. Sounds like a good deal to me! Where do I sign up?

Fortunately, it doesn’t work that way. There is no doubt that God blesses us. The Bible is clear in so many places about that. But He is not our ATM in the sky. We can’t manipulate God into dispensing out blessings for our own good.

So what does Luke 6:38 really mean? Here is a proper look at the passage.

Give and It Shall Be Given Unto You – In Context

You should always read verses in the Bible in context with the verses around it. You can’t select one verse here or there and just make it mean what you want it to mean. In context reading remains the best way to interpret the Bible correctly.

In this case, the verses around Luke 6:38 give us a better understanding of the entire discussion Jesus is having.

Here is 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)

So What Is Jesus Saying?

I don’t see money mentioned at all in the above passage. Seems like it’s more 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.

Related Content: My Go-To Bible Verse When I Worry About Money (or anything really)

Luke 6:38 does mention the word give. So that does imply the concept of generosity. 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. Assume the best in people without quickly jumping to conclusions.

Think about it for a moment. People will not like you if you treat them poorly. If you are quick to give out judgment, condemn others with your words and fail to forgive, you will receive that same treatment back even more. It is a logical conclusion about human behavior.

I don’t want to be on the other end of negative treatment. So I think I’ll give generously in these areas as I interact with people. It doesn’t matter how they treat me. Above all, I’ll follow Jesus’ example of loving others and giving them the respect they deserve.

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 giving strategy?

Related Content: How to Develop a Purposeful Plan for Giving Away Money

Certainly I would be testing out that theory. I’d probably start with giving something small – say $500 – and see if I’d get that money back somehow. If I did, the next check I would write to the church would be for more. I might even take out a loan in order to give.

If this strategy kept working, the checks I would write “for Jesus” would get larger and larger and I’d get richer and richer as the money poured back to me.

Who is this scenario happening to? I don’t know of anyone. Do you? Probably not. That is because it doesn’t work that way.

And I’m glad it doesn’t. That would only reduce giving to a selfish action. My motivation for giving would be to grow my own wealth. I would be looking at what I could get out of giving instead of blessing other people. And I’m sure that’s not what God intended our giving motivations to be.


So the next time you read a verse about money, make sure you interpret it properly. Make sure to read it in context. Furthermore, apply some common sense to the issue. If you don’t, it could lead to serious errors in how you handle money.

Leave a Comment Below or Answer a Question: 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

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  1. Terry Thompson says

    I have been taught this scripture is about Mercy. The same Mercy you give is the same Mercy you receive. When I read verse 20-37 of the same chapter, it is scriptures that deal with Mercy.

  2. James Kalu says

    My own understanding of this verse is that, this verse could also be applied to mean money or any other resource which we can give out to help people. You talked about reading based on context. If we are to go in the direction of context, what do you think the other statements mean? Verse 37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemned not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
    Let us relate this to the parable of unmerciful servant
    Are these going to be interpreted in different way other than its literal meaning that when we forgive somebody for his or offenses, that is when we should also expect our own sins and shortcomings to be forgiven. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owny other resource which we can give out to help people. You talked about reading based on coned him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
    26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
    28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
    29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
    30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
    32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
    35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
    In conclusion, that verse could mean money. When we give out money for the good of others, God will touch men’s heart to also favor you in one way or the other. But let us not see it as trade by barter.
    Colossians 3: 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

  3. Thank you so much for this, just back from a meeting where this verse was mentioned in the context of giving money and then we wouldn’t be in stuck financial need. I wanted to scream. But didn’t know how to theologically make my point.
    You make a good case and it’s helped me put into words my gut response!
    Scripture when used as a stick or carrot is incredibly unhelpful and completely anti its whole message. So thank you for this it is much appreciated

  4. I’ve had “give, and it will be given unto you” happen twice –
    1) 30 years ago when I rolled my car at night and in the middle of nowhere, tow truck came, and i gave him what was my really good spotlight that’d be quite useful to him. The following Christmas, my younger brother gave me the same spotlight that I’d given away a few months prior.
    and 2)
    A few months back, I saw a Salvation Army table set up for quick donations. I walked past not giving the $20 I wanted to give as I had no change. For the next few days, I was feeling a bit guilty…fast forward to the following week. Again they were there, this time I gave them $40….I still felt a bit guilty though..
    Anyway fast forward to later in the week when I’d bought a lotto/powerball (can’t remember) ticket for something like $10.
    Low and behold, I’d ‘won’ my $40 back, my first win in a looooooong time. My thoughts went straight to this result being because I’d given to the Salvos 😉

  5. Roland Akporiaye says

    Thanks Brian for your contextual interpretation of Luke 6:18. It is contextually true that Jesus spoke about judgement, forgiveness and mercy. And on the need for us to be generous in these areas. I completely agree.

    I am also aware of the abuse to make scriptures say what it is not meant to say.

    But let me add also that scriptural interpretation is not only contextual, 1Corinthians 2:13 on how the Holy Spirit teaches by comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
    The word “comparing” in the Greek is “sugkrino”. It is rendered in English as to judge of one thing in connection with another that is combine or collate with another by way of contrast for resemblance.

    Thus, when certain verses are consistent with each other in principles and practice they explain themselves. All contextual meaning would be easily supported any other portions of the scriptures.

    I believe Jesus spoke about the giving principles in Luke 6:38, even though the context he applied it was not in money, it still explains the fact that when giving is done there would be a reaping, reward to giving. This position is supported throughout the scriptures in all areas pertaining to giving.

    When God gave His son Jesus, He expected to reap sons and He reaped sons! John 3:16 & Hebrews 2:10
    Paul said in 2corinthians 9:6 if you sow or give sparingly you would reap sparingly, and if you sow or give bountifully you would reap bountifully.

    I understand and totally agree that scriptural giving is not a gamble. Rather it is an honour and a stewardship system in which believers are given the scriptural responsibilities to manage the resources (money inclusive) that have been entrusted into our care. Jesus gave a parable to show that when stewards are faithful in the management of the resources entrusted them by the father, he rewards them.

    I say the above to say that giving is an investment opportunity. Investment in the sense that when we sow or give sparingly we reap sparingly and when we sow or give bountifully we reap bountifully. Every act of giving is an investment of grace. We are giving the opportunity to invest into peoples life and also the promotion of god’s kingdom. It is a kingdom investment that would be rewarded with grace! 2Corinthians 9:8

    The grace could be in money, wisdom, insight, idea, a new relationship or whatever lines up with god’s purpose for our life.

    My point is that it is scriptural to expect to be rewarded when we give. Hebrews 11:6 says he that comes to God must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him!

    My humble contribution!

    Thanks again Brian!


    • Matthew Thompson says

      Hey Roland, He spoke the truth about everything. It’s funny how you said that I quote: “When God gave His son Jesus, He expected to reap sons and He reaped sons!” Now that’s funny because you said that God is Expected. God knows the beginning and the end. God don’t need faith or to be expecting anything. You are inserting money because that seems to be your motive. I am sure you don’t want to debate the TITHE do you because I bet you tithe still. It’s better to give then to receive. WOW that hurts a lot of people who think about money. If your giving is intending to receive you have missed the who point of the bible because it show you motive. You are not giving for the love of giving and what it brings to the other person but it seems you giving is more of a stock market or a slot machine or God is your ATM. Please go back into the bible and rethink you position. It’s all points to Jesus and the salvation he is to bring into a fallen world. Oh, and its FREE. God Bless you my brother. PS The reward we should be expecting is in the next life not here. It’s also funny how drug dealers and atheist have all the money and material things but that does not mean it’s from God. Your focus should be on SALVATION, not things that will perish.

      • Roland Akporiaye says

        Hello Matthew thank you for your response!

        You quoted me out of context. I hope your response was not based on the preconceived notion in which you were implying that my motive is money. I never said so in my write up.

        I also did not say that Luke 6:38 was referring to money. You can confirm that from my write up.

        But, let me take you up on your response.

        Yes you are right, God knows every thing, but I hope you followed the context I used the Statement. God expected because in Hebrew he stated what he had destined to achieve from the death of Christ, one of which was sons. You can read it again.

        On the same point, Genesis 8:1 one of the statement in this verse says God remembered Noah. Does that mean God forgot Noah? Off cause no!

        For your information, I give for the love of giving. I also give expecting to be rewarded not just in heaven, but also on earth. This position is fully supported by scriptures. I already shared that. But let add one scripture from Jesus:

        This scenario established the fact that the kingdom of God operates as if a man would cast seeds. Again, before you misquote me, not all seeds a man sow is money. We sow mercy, forgiveness, compassion and yes money. Jesus promised reward for all giving. If you have a problem that God rewards giving here on, then that is on you.

        Mark 10
        29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

        Notice the giving Jesus was referring to here is the giving of their lives and everything for the sake of the gospel. Which establishes the principle of giving and receiving.

        The scriptures defiance’s supports reward here on earth. I did not say Giving is gamble. No. I already explained that. If you choose to only expect reward in heaven no problem.

        I don’t love money, because scriptures calls the love of money evil. I am neither covetous. I simply believe what the Bible says.

        I believer Christ and what he has done as the central motivation for all giving. But I also believe God rewards. He can reward with money, grace and whatever enhances his purposes in the earth.

        A good day to you Matthew


        • Ephraim Chaphi says

          Thank very much Brian great job for I didn’t understand that verse that way and also many many thanks to Roland for your great answers too, hats off for you too dear brother.

    • Letor Kpee says

      You said it well! That was an insight thought. My life is based on giving. If I don’t give to people, I get so frustrated either throughout the day or throughout the week but I’m a widow and God has been blessings me and my children I don’t know if it’s because of my giving but I enjoy doing it. I can give out anything that I have without thinking of how to get it back. I am not doing it to get things from people but God always bless me in return. Giving is not only about money you can give your time I mean anything valuable to people and you will be blessed. I enjoyed the teaching and the contributions. This teaching is to educate those who don’t know the principle of giving and also educate those who are abusing the words of God for their own agenda.
      Thank you all, God bless you.
      Letor Kpee.

  6. Reading this was a blessing, and also opened my eyes to the context of Luke 6: 38. You do make sense in what you say. The verse is not a formula to making money indeed. On the other hand as one person said, Galatians 6: 7 does say that what a person soweth is what he or she will reap. That, while it is not a formula, seems supported by life’s experiences. A person, even a great one, can commit some terrible thing, then finds himself confronted with it years later. Generosity, it seems has its rewards. Generosity of soul and spirit is of course of the greatest value. That has its returns but it blesses others.

  7. I think giving a part of your money has to do with how good you feel about it and how it helps the other person. In our family the single mantra for charity is to give a part of our income to the less unfortunate so that they can have a better life. It helps us stay mentally healthy even as we gorge on multiple Thanksgiving dinners at the mercy of the lord.

    Loved your thinking in this post, sharing with the wife.

  8. Some celebrity ministers take this scripture out of context, write books about it, fill convention centers and teach other out of context scriptures.
    My response is to pray for them and for curious minds to use biblical discernment.

    I believe God provides financial blessings within the context of His Word. However, Luke 6:37-38 is not about a financial blessing. It clearly teaches about judging others an forgiving them.

    Thanks for posting good hermeneutics.


    • “…for curious minds to use biblical discernment.” That’s the ticket right there. When you really begin to read and explore God’s Word, you can better equip yourself to recognize false teaching.

  9. Had I not tithed and given over the course of my career I would have, in theory, an extra $2 million in my portfolio of investments. However, in reality I believe by practicing the discipline of giving and giving cheerfully that my attitude toward money and my overall generosity were improved so much that my career went much farther than it would have otherwise. So in a real sense that money came back to me. Although I share your views on this teaching, learning to be a giver does often have financial rewards in life because giving people are more successful than stingy people I believe.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience! Sounds like you’ve had experiences and profited in a way that provides much more personal value than the actual dollars you could have accumulated otherwise. It’s a really good point you make about cultivating a mindset of generosity. Think of what we could do if more people looked outwardly rather than inwardly.

  10. good stuff

  11. 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

  12. 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!

    • Although I agree with you that people misinterpret Luke 6:38 to mean giving offerings, but if you are really concerned about the context, you wouldn’t begin your interpretation from verse 37, but would rather read the entire Luke chapter 6.

      The words of Jesus begin at verse 20 and several verses in this passage talk about giving your possessions. For example verses 29 and 30:
      29) And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
      30) Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
      So the passage is clearly talking about giving love, forgiveness, mercy and even your possessions.

      A good summary of this passage is found in verse
      Luke 6:35- But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  15. 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.

    • 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.

  16. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    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.

  17. 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.

    • “…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.

  18. 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.

    • “…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.

  19. 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.

  20. Jean-Paul Gauthier says

    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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