“You need to tithe and give in order to prosper!” Really? How come Hetty Green did not get the memo?

Some of us might have heard of Hetty Green while others might not. To those who have never heard about her, who was she?
Hetty Green
Hetty Green was an astute business woman who amassed a large fortune and died the world’s wealthiest woman in 1916. However, she was very, very stingy. Wikipedia tells us more

Green was mainly interested in business, and there are many tales (of various degrees of accuracy) about her stinginess. She never turned on the heat nor used hot water. She wore one old black dress and undergarments that she changed only after they had been worn out. She did not wash her hands and rode an old carriage. She ate mostly pies that cost fifteen cents. One tale claims that she spent a night looking around her home for a lost stamp worth two cents.

How stingy can one be? There is even more to come

Her frugality extended to family life. Her son Ned broke his leg as a child, and Hetty tried to have him admitted in a hospital charity ward. When she was recognized, she stormed away vowing to treat the wounds herself. The leg contracted gangrene and had to be amputated – he ended up with a cork prosthesis

What a miser!

An estimate of her net worth was around $100 – $200 million (or $1.9 – $3.8 billion in 2006 dollars), arguably making her the richest woman in the world at the time.

“Why the history lesson and how does this relate to tithing and giving?” Someone might ask, be patient and you will see.

I have been in the pentecostal church all my adult life and in all this time I heard it preached constantly that in order to prosper, you need to be a giver and a tither. I practised these “rites” religiously and great wealth never materialised! At times lack of faith was to blame other times it was sin. We were even told that you also needed to “sow seeds” in the lives of men of God and God would prosper you big time. Ironically, it was only the man of God that seemed to prosper from these seeds sown.

I decided to look at scriptures that had been provided to support these doctrines in great detail and my discoveries astounded me.

There are universal laws that are binding on everybody whether you believe in them on not. An example of such a law is – what goes up, must come down. This law is not selective and does not only affect those who believe in it – it affects everyone on planet earth. This leads me to this question – if tithing and giving were gateways to prosperity, how come Hetty Green was so wealthy even in her stinginess and loads of Christians who tithe and give faithfully still live from paycheck to paycheck? Something is obviously amiss!

Scriptures have been distorted and twisted so that churches would continue to have a steady revenue stream. Half-truths, lies, fear and arm-twisting techniques are used to continuously extort money from believers.

To start with, while running the risk of sounding like a broken record, Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek is cited as one of the reasons tithing is still relevant to today’s church because he did it before the law. What deceit! What ignorance! What adding to scriptures! Abraham was already very wealthy before he ever met Melchizedek. Even Lot with him was also wealthy hence they separated in Genesis 13 – the land could no longer sustain both men because of their great wealth! Why on earth would people deliberately turn a blind eye to scriptural evidence and formulate one of their own. Genesis 13: 2 tells us that Abraham was very rich. He had not even met Melchizedek then not to talk of tithing to prosper.

The one that really gets to me is the doctrine of sowing seeds. We are advised by these preachers to “sow seeds” i.e. give money to them because they are fertile ground and God would bless us. Verses of scripture are twisted and taken completely out of context in order to lean weight to this doctrine.

What exactly does scripture mean by sowing and reaping? Very simple – you would be treated exactly the same way you treat others! If you are cruel to others, They would be cruel to you in return. If you are generous to others, they would be generous to you in return. Scripture never tells us that “sowing” money guarantees you “reap” a harvest of money – that is gambling. God is not a slot machine! They deceive you by telling you that sowing refers to giving money, not true according to scriptures!

One scripture used to support this is the parable of the sower. Let us quickly look at it from the New Living Translation of the Holy Scriptures

3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Mathew 13 : 3 – 9.

Jesus used this to illustrate how the word of God thrives in different hearts that receive it same as a seed planted would thrive or die depending on the type of soil it is planted in. Any reference to money here? No! Any reference to giving here? No as well! Even if we decide to look at the parable literary, one would struggle to see how it relates to giving or money and this brings me to the truth about prosperity – It does not come through giving! The life of the miserly Hetty Green shows us that much. Wealth comes by investments and smart business sense! The farmer in Jesus’ parable did not go from house to house giving away his planting seeds in the name of sowing into the lives of people. Had he done that, his field would have been completely empty come harvest time. Instead he went to INVEST in his farm by planting his seeds and he reaped a harvest from his INVESTMENT.

What investments do you have? How do you spend your money? How do you spend your spare time? No one ever became wealthy by tithing, “sowing seeds” or giving, there is no scriptural evidence to back that up. You need to get busy and God would bless the works of your hand. He will bless your investments same as he did to Isaac during the famine.

I am sure some people would come away with the notion that I am opposed to giving, for those people I suggest you read this paper in context. The context of this write up is debunking the claim that giving and tithing makes you prosperous and not to dissuade people from giving.

If you want to give, give because you want to and not because you are hoping to receive some money rain or have been taken in by this false doctrine.

(Hetty Green image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Is tithing really putting God first?

Quite recently, I discovered that I have been blogging on tithing quite a lot. Just when I think that there is nothing more to say about the topic since it seems all has been said about it some new thoughts cross my mind.

It is really a pity that a lot of Christians would rather starve, put their families at risk and run into debt in the name of putting God first through tithing. Their minds have been conditioned to believe that spending their money on themselves first and “giving to God” from what is left is a sin but is that what scripture really says?

The way I see it, I think that these believers have a very hard time reconciling the New Testament to their Christian beliefs and tend to model their beliefs after the Old Testament by introducing elements of works instead of relying on faith alone.

How does tithing indicate that you are truly putting God first? Can we substantiate this with any scriptural evidence? The answer is a resounding no. This is another man-made doctrine. Tithing does not in anyway show that you are putting God first rather it is the way you live your life that reflects if you put God first in everything.

What choices do you make in your everyday life? These choices indicate if you love God or not. Before you embark on any activity, do you seek God’s opinion on the matter or would rather have it your way? Would you like to receive God’s guidance every step of the way or are you scared that if you ask Him, you might not like what he tells you to do. Aha! This is when the tyre actually hits the road and the journey really begins. Obedience is tough! Total obedience to every single precept of God is putting Him first!

Why was God not impressed at the initiative shown by Saul when he decided to spare the choice livestock in order to offer them up as burnt offerings? Lets look at it from scripture

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15: 22.

If this scenario was to replay itself in today’s church run by pro-tithers, what would be their response? They will most certainly commend Saul’s actions and sing his praises from the pulpit.

What is indeed putting God first? Would you wait for His choice of a spouse for you or would you rather go it alone? Would you turn down that lucrative job offer because you did not receive a release in your spirit to take it or would you shun the still small voice by promising a tithe? How about the way you treat your neighbours, your colleagues and people you meet daily. Do they see the evidence of a life of Christ in you? How about when you are offended? Do you retaliate? Do you press charges? Do you sue? Would you cheat on your spouse if given the chance? What are your thoughts about others? Are you compassionate or judgemental? Do you readily forgive?

It is so easy to give a tenth but total obedience to God’s precepts is the difficult bit but that is actually putting Him FIRST!