For many years, I always had a big question about the authenticity of the modern tithe doctrine in its many forms. To say fear kept me from digging deeper into the subject is an understatement. The problem is, I never listened to my inner spirit to research what I was taught early in my Christian experience. That left me vulnerable to manipulation and false prophecies about tithing and other spiritual matters in my life. You probably would not believe that prior to me discovering the truth about what constituted a tithe, my financial life was on life support. On two occasions, my financial life flatlined with two bankruptcies. Now I would be remiss if I didn’t say that some of my own personal financial mistakes including tithing contributed to many money problems in my life. Had I not tithed for more than 30 years, I am certain many things would have been different for me and my family.
So why do so many pastors and churches peddle the tithe doctrine like snake oil salesmen? I suspect it happens because churches that signed their name on the bank papers have to meet the monthly mortgage payment. Paying off a building then becomes the number one priority over the everything else. Teaching fear or blessing tithe sermons and curses from God for not tithing are sure ways to get congregants to cough up cash. Some people will accuse me of peddling non-tithing and by doing so, churches will not be able to meet their obligations and ultimately shut their doors because my non-tithing stance causes people to give less. I will not argue with that position, but I would counter that no church has to close if they are following New Testament giving principles, but they may have to downsize their mega-church aspirations. I have sat in many church pews during offering time watching people give much like Jesus did when he observed the widow woman give two mites and made comments about her actions in Mark 12:42-44:
Finally, a poor widow came up and put in two coins worth only a few pennies. 43 Jesus told his disciples to gather around him. Then he said: I tell you that this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 44 Everyone else gave what they didn’t need. But she is very poor and gave everything she had. Now she doesn’t have a cent to live on (CEV).
This Scripture is often used as a tieback to tithing but if you read the entire context closely, this poor widow woman based on the tithe context of the Old Testament should have been a beneficiary of the tithe because she was poor. The poor tithe is something I will talk about in my upcoming book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God? Rather than go into all the detail of what this widow woman story means maybe the tithe bloggers should take a crack at it. I will say one thing and that is this poor widow according to the scripture could not and did not pay tithes, so why are widows and the poor paying tithes in the church today?
My commentary thoughts on churches closing because of non-tithers lie with the pastor who relied on unsubstantiated tithe practices the Bible does not endorse. Many churches fail because they did not follow clear cut giving principles outlined in the New Testament but chose to teach out of context giving teachings that are not in the Scripture. Another reason could be financial irresponsibility on the part of the church as a whole. In churches that teach a heavy-handed tithe or curse doctrine for not tithing never receive a full tithe anyway by all research analysis. I have observed many people place one dollar in the offering plate over many years week after week as an offering after they have paid the tithe. I don’t think they do this because they are stingy, as some would allege, it is because they are exhausted from heavy church taxation week after week, month after month and year after year. Over time, when there is no return on the giving promises and the tithe prophecies they have been taught, many give one dollar out of exhaustion. People give up and give less so they can recover from their personal financial disaster of no return on their so-called seed sowing into a ministry. Many pastors don’t understand that they indirectly encourage less giving among congregants by using pressure giving tactics about tithes and offerings during offering time instead of showing people balanced giving texts from the Bible that encourage willing giving. Research on giving shows that people give more in an atmosphere of love without pressure, guilt and fear.
The mega-church phenomenon of today has poisoned many young impressionable future preachers to think a big church is a sign of God’s blessing. The question is; does the Bible say anything about God endorsing the mega-church concept with salaried pastors and staff? Tithing and clergy salaries are the focus of tithe sermons today and with the church budget on the line, much time is spent on fundraising rather than sharing the word about our Hebrew God and the Messiah. The tithe doctrine in some respects fits the caliber of selling indulgences. What do I mean by that? Saying that tithing will bring money, cars, and other material blessings fit the pattern of selling God’s blessings to feed our materialistic nature. That does not mean material things are bad and money and wealth are evil. To imply that tithing is the method one uses to pay God to receive an overflow return of blessings that overtakes the tither sounds like peddling the Word of God for profit. Now most people probably don’t know that Paul had something to say about this practice because he even wrote about the problem as it was happening in his day in 2 Cor 2:17: “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God” (NIV).
The two slides in this post give a little more commentary information on the tithe. Check them out begin your own personal tithing study as I did years ago. These postings are not about me grinding an ax with the institutional church, it is about sharing biblical knowledge so people can truly give from their heart in the church and everywhere else without guilt, shame or fear. One source for this slide is Rethinking the Tithe. Some link in my slide my no longer work because of the changing nature of the Internet.
When you finally read the upcoming book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God? you will be able to answer the big question: Are You Robbing God or is the Church Robbing You With the Tithe? Who is Shaking Down Who? For those who are sensitive, don’t be is all humor to explore a difficult biblical subject. If you think I’m just being irreverent, I’m not. As I have said in my book, if a person pays ten percent to their church, that is a personal matter, but the only problem is that it can not be called an authentic tithe. It is simply tax return giving.
In the following video, I talk about general points on tithing. I want people to know that the poor in Israel did not tithe and that included the widow woman I mentioned earlier. We do not need to pay Yahweh (God) for blessings and He is not holding believers hostage for money. True giving is not always money. If you give your time and don’t have a dime; if you give love, a kind word or do acts of kindness to bless the poor and don’t have a dime to give, God honors that gift from your heart the same as someone who pays ten percent of income.
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