You Can’t Outgive God

God came up with the idea of multiplication.

If you give him your time, he multiplies it. If you give him your money, he multiplies it. If you give him your talent, he multiplies it. If you give him your energy, guess what? He multiplies it.

It’s the same principle as planting seeds. Second Corinthians 9:10 says, “God gives seed to the farmer . . . God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval” (GW).

Think about that: God will increase the things you do that have his approval.

Farmers know that seed must be given away for it to increase. If you keep seed in a sack, it doesn’t do any good. But when you plant it, it multiplies. When you plant one corn seed, do you just get one corn seed back? No, you get a stalk with hundreds of corn kernels. When you plant one watermelon seed, do you only get one seed back? No, you get a bunch of watermelons with hundreds of seeds in them. God multiplies whatever little bit you give him.

“Remember that the person who plants few seeds will have a small crop. But the one who plants many seeds will have a large crop. God loves the person who gives cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 AP) That’s because God gives cheerfully and he wants us to be like him.

The story of Saddleback Church cannot be told without telling of the thousands of people who sacrificed financially to make the church possible. Our campus with all of its buildings didn’t just happen. Somebody sacrificed for them. People chose to give their money instead of buying things for themselves—just to make it happen.

One of the great lessons that Kay and I have learned over our years of ministry is that you cannot outgive God.

Whatever you give him, he takes and multiplies. This was a lesson we learned on a personal level. Three different times in our marriage God told us to give away our entire savings. Each time we obeyed, God would replenish it in greater ways than ever before.

In December 1987, we had to close the deal on the land for Saddleback Church. Our people had given over a million dollars, but we were still short on that last day. I thought, “God, we’re so close and our people have sacrificed beyond measure. This is the last day before we lose the property. You’re not going to let us get this close and let us fall. What are you going to do?”

Before that day was out we received a letter from a man who’d only visited Saddleback one time. He didn’t even live in Orange County. His note said, “I believe in the vision of Saddleback Church.” And in that letter was a check for a quarter-million dollars. We were able to close the deal and get the land.

God’s timing is perfect. That was the last business day of 1987. The first business day of 1988 that man—who was a banker—went to the bank and his trustees called a special meeting. They didn’t know he’d just given us a quarter-million dollars. They called him in and said, “We’ve had a record year with banner profits. We’re going to give you a one-time bonus.” And 10 days after he’d given this church a quarter-million dollars, they gave him a one-time bonus of $750,000.

He called me on the phone. “Rick, you cannot outgive God! I keep trying, but it doesn’t work.”

When I told this story to the Saddleback congregation, I said, “Don’t you wish you’d given a quarter-million dollars?”

The Bible promises, “You won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed his home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children – whatever – will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!” (Luke 18:29-30 The Message).

That’s a promise of Jesus Christ directly from his lips. “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

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Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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