Giving according to what you have and not what you earn

I promised myself not to write on tithing anymore but have had to break this promise yet again due to some rather strange tithe teachings making their rounds on the internet.

Scripture says one thing but people either ignorantly or deliberately twist it to say something else to suit their purpose. And this is quite disheartening.

I stumbled upon the blog of some preacher who had started a “tithing challenge” in his church. He defended his actions with a lot of scripture twisting and personal opinions. The one that really got to me was his interpretation of 2 Corinthians 8. As far as he was concerned, Paul’s charge to the church in Corinth to give whatever they could afford according to what they had meant that they were supposed to give beyond 10%.

12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 2 Corinthians 8

How can one read the above scripture and come away saying Paul meant they should give beyond 10%? Quite mind-boggling!

There is a whole world of difference between what you have and what you earn. Paul’s charge was that everyone should give according to what they had and not what they earned; a common mistake we make in today’s church. Many insist and believe that proportionate giving means giving a portion of what you earn when in fact scriptures calls it giving according to what you have.

I will explain with this illustration. We have 2 men, Bill and Luke, who both earn £1200 every month. Bill is unmarried and lives alone in a one bedroom flat.  While Luke on the other hand is married with 2 children, his wife is a full-time housewife and they live in a 2 bedroom house. Even though both men earn the same will they have the same leftover after they have met all necessary financial obligations?

Below is a breakdown of the income and expenditure for both men

Monthly expenses for Luke
Wages

1200

Rent

750

Utilities

200

feeding

100

Transportation

100

 Total expenses

1150

Amount left

50

Monthly expenses for Bill

Wages

1200

Rent

550

Utilities

120

feeding

60

Transportation

100

  Total expenses

830

Amount left

370

Assuming they keep to their budgets, both men can never spend the same amount on monthly necessities and both will never have the same amount of money leftover either. It will be a huge burden on Luke to insist that he gives 10% of what he earns, even more wicked to insist that he gives 10% of what he earns before tax. This will leave a lot of his bills unpaid and remember he has 2 young children.

Some will insist that he gets another job or that his wife should work. That is a decision he has to make by himself and it is not a decision a pastor or a well-meaning brother should make on his behalf. And besides, Luke and his wife worked out that should his wife work; all she earns will go towards childcare costs. Others will say his tithing is proof of his love for God and God will reward him according. I say that is a very bad and silly advice.

The charge in scripture is “give according to what you have” and if that is up to 10%, it is all good. God will never punish anyone unable to give up to 10% as He never instituted it as the absolute minimum one must give.

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God, the “Program”

The word program has various meanings but only one of these definitions is pertinent to this discussion. The fredictionary.com defines “program” as a set of coded instructions that enables a machine, especially a computer, to perform a desired sequence of operations. (Emphasis mine).

Amongst Pentecostals, particular those who hold fast to the Word of Faith doctrine, God is truly treated like a machine that has been programmed to do all of their biddings. Tele-evangelists and preachers alike make a killing from the sale of books and cds that “teach” believers how best to use this “God” program.

Fully utilising this “God” program is sure to bring you results beyond your wildest dreams. This Program if used correctly can make you very wealthy, can help you secure promotions, can dispose of all your enemies and make you the envy of your neighbours.

The God program only responds to certain coded instructions. If these instructions are not strictly followed, you will not see desired results.

The “Fasting” coded instruction is guaranteed to make this Program bring speedy answers to your prayer requests. Adding the “seed sowing” instruction is bound to make this Program grant you the desires of your heart. It even has a fast track route to becoming a millionaire; the coded instruction of “tithing”. Some preachers even give a money back guarantee on this one.

Of course am being cynical but our ideology about God seems to be that He is only here to do things we desire and nothing more. And preachers use this faulty ideology to take advantage of us. No message is ever complete without us having to sow a “seed” to claim these promises. If we desire a prophets’ reward, we need to “sow” a good seed into the live of the prophet. This makes God obligated to do your biddings. To enjoy the anointing of the man of god, we need to sow a seed and so on. This is simply ridiculous!

We will continue to be suckered by these preachers till we realise that God is not a program but a Father who desires to have a RELATIONSHIP with His children. And as any good father, He is concerned about you and does not need you to earn this concern. While we were yet sinners He loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us. We did not deserve it neither did we have to earn it.

Ignore all these so called self help and fast track routes to receiving from God and cultivate a relationship with Him instead. That is bound to be more rewarding as you will be able to know God’s mind for you by yourself.

Paul had the right idea and expressed this in Philippians 3

9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Our goal should be to know Him and everything else will follow.

 

Learning from the 5 wise virgins

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ 7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ 9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ Matthew 25

I was mulling over the parable of the ten virgins when something about the 5 wise virgins struck me. We tend to think that they were considered wise because they took with them extra oil, as a matter of fact it was way more than that. They knew when to give and when not to!

If this scenario were to play itself in today’s church, how will people react towards the 5 wise virgins who refused to share their oil? My guess is they will be considered selfish as much of today’s church seem to believe that taking care of your needs first is selfish.

How many times have we heard preachers tout the horn of giving in the church? Believers that barely have enough for themselves are made to feel guilty that they are not giving enough. These preachers never even consider the personal needs of the people.

The 5 wise virgins considered the quantity of oil they had left and could see that they will not have enough to share with the others. Have you ever been that way about your finances? Do you consider how much you will require to take care of your family and how much you can give away? It is wisdom to know when to give and when not to.

Having no plan on how you spend your money is simply not wise, not having any realistic priorities in the way we spend money does not show good judgement either. There is a time to give and there is a time not to.