The simplicity of the Gospel – Part 2

However, the thinking of some of the early apostles is still quite prevalent in much of today’s church. Many aspects of the Law are repurposed and reshaped to justify teaching it. Some of them are hailed as some sort of new revelation. The first time I heard the doctrine of the ‘firstfruit’ taught, it was hailed as such. Some preachers even teach giving of an ‘atonement’ offering. The tithe is another one I mention constantly. Still others just take the entire Old Testament and form a completely new religion under the premise of Christianity. The Mormons are a perfect example.

Still others like the Jehovah’s witnesses take the ‘abridge version of the law of Moses’ a little too literarily. Even though this clearly referred to the forbiddance of eating meat which still had its blood on it, they’ve interpreted this to mean blood transfusion. They completely ignore Paul’s charge to the church in Corinth concerning meats; it neither commends nor condemns you before God. Having a blood transfusion neither commends nor condemns you before God as well and prevents you from dying untimely if it is required to save your life. I have even seen a preacher offer the Jewish prayer shawl on tv for a fee! He sang the praises of the shawl as if wearing one was the only way to get God to answer your prayers.

Adherence to the Sabbath is also seriously pushed by some even though the law of Sabbath is clearly an Old Testament command. Paul also mentioned something about special days and he admonished that those who observe special days and those who do not are both fine just as long as they are doing it unto the Lord.

5 Some people might believe that one day is more important than another. And others might believe that every day is the same. Everyone should be sure about their beliefs in their own mind. 6 Those who think one day is more important than other days are doing that for the Lord. And those who eat all kinds of food are doing that for the Lord. Yes, they give thanks to God for that food. And those who refuse to eat some foods do that for the Lord. They also give thanks to God. Romans 14 (ERV)

The New Testament frees us from all of these laws and allows us to freely worship God. You no longer have to be a descendant of Aaron before you can approach God’s throne. You no longer need to conform to Jewish customs before you can be accepted by God. This flies in the face of the notion that your need to do something special like give ‘special sacrificial offerings’, pray in certain ways or at certain times and places or conform to a certain dress code to receive blessings or favour from God.

Some will interpret this as me saying that once you are a Christian you simply do nothing but I’ll like to clarify that you do not need to do anything to influence the way God acts or feel towards you. He loves you regardless and all He requires is that you love Him with all your heart, all your soul and all your might.

You do not pray in the hope God will be impressed, you pray because you love Him. You do not give because you are trying to attract some sort of blessings or influence God so to speak, again you do it out of love.

The New Testament is God’s way of making all nations and every tribe and tongue a part of His commonwealth. And the only requirement for entry is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ alone.

The simplicity of the Gospel – Part 1

We know from scripture that the early Christians where Jews who observed the Jewish laws as this was already their way of life. The only difference was they believed in Jesus Christ. However, their Jewish customs became a bit of an issue when the gentiles began to turn to Christ; as some Jews expected the gentiles to observe the Jewish customs as well. The bible discusses this in the book Acts.

5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Acts 15 (KJV)

The apostles did not think the gentiles should observe the Law of Moses and provided an alternative which was basically an abridged version of the law.

19 “So I think we should not make things hard for those who have turned to God from among the non-Jewish people. 20 Instead, we should send a letter telling them only the things they should not do: Don’t eat food that has been given to idols. This makes the food unclean. Don’t be involved in sexual sin. Don’t eat meat from animals that have been strangled or any meat that still has the blood in it. 21 They should not do any of these things, because there are still men in every city who teach the Law of Moses. Acts 15 (ERV)

Paul didn’t think this should apply to the gentiles at all and addressed it in his epistle to the Corinthians.

Now I will write about meat that is sacrificed to idols. It is certainly true that “we all have knowledge,” as you say. But this knowledge only fills people with pride. It is love that helps the church grow stronger. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know anything as they should. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God. 4 So this is what I say about eating meat: We know that an idol is really nothing in the world, and we know that there is only one God. 5 It’s really not important if there are things called gods in heaven or on earth—and there are many of these “gods” and “lords” out there. 6 For us there is only one God, and he is our Father. All things came from him, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things were made through him, and we also have life through him. 7 But not all people know this. Some have had the habit of worshiping idols. So now when they eat meat, they still feel as if it belongs to an idol. They are not sure that it is right to eat this meat. So when they eat it, they feel guilty. 8 But food will not bring us closer to God. Refusing to eat does not make us less pleasing to God, and eating does not make us closer to him. 1 Corinthians 8 (ERV)

His premise clearly shows that we cannot obtain God’s favour or blessing by keeping or observing parts of the Old Testament like some of the apostles encouraged the gentiles that first believed to do.

It is not uncommon to see some churches try to resurrect some Old Testament practises in today’s church. It is like they almost believe that doing this makes them more acceptable in God’s eyes.

The land of Israel was central to the Old Testament Law as was the knowledge of one’s ancestry. The latter was essential in determining those who should act in the priestly offices and those who shouldn’t. Land usage was also governed by this and had to be strictly followed. Dietary requirements were strictly enforced as was a dress code and physical appearance. Different offerings were required and the temple was central to worship. Conversion to this faith involved full adherence to all of these.

But herein lies the beauty of the New Testament; it transcends every race and tongue on the face of the earth. It does not require a dress code for acceptance. Observance of the Old Testament Law is not required. Relocating to the land of Israel is not required. A tribal distinction to determine those who are supposed to serve in a physical temple is not required. A physical temple is not central to its worship.

The universality of the New Testament is clearly seen in scripture; Christ died for the whole world as seen in John 3: 16. John 1: 12 tells us that anyone who receives Jesus is automatically given the rights to sonship. This is open to all and sundry irrespective of race and background. The Old Testament clearly made a distinction between the Jew and the gentile and the only way the gentile could be accepted was by observing all of the Old Testament laws. The New Testament does away with these and establishes justification by faith and faith alone.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesian 2: 8 – 9

The Old Testament further creates a class distinction between those allowed to approach God and those not allowed and desire was not enough to make one join the party of those allowed to approach God; it was a tribal privilege. The New Testament removes such limitations and all are welcome.

Is tithing valid for today’s church because Abraham “practiced” it before the law?

Some weeks ago, I had a series of email exchanges with a pro-tither and we just did not seem to agree on the issue. Him, just like all otherpro-tithers I have met truly believe that without practicing this rite you cannot attract God’s blessings. And all of them look to Abraham as reason it is still valid in today’s church because Abraham did it before the law.

The question, I would like to ask though is ‘was tithing the only thing practiced by Abraham before the law?’ Abraham practiced animal sacrifices, polygamy, circumcision amongst other things. Would they all be valid in today’s church because they were all done before the law? Am sorry but pro-tithers are not being honest in their use of scriptures. You cannot take one and leave the others, it is either all or non.

While I pondered on, a thought crossed my mind which I really would like to share. The arguments that pro-tithers use to support the tithe doctrine could well be used to build a case for the doctrine of circumcision. Mind you God never gave Abraham the charge to tithe nether did he commend him for doing it but God commanded Abraham to practice circumcision. It was the condition of God’s covenant with him. Let us look at Genesis 17

7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land
wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting
possession; and I will be their God.

9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

13He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

14And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

Circumcision was clearly practiced by Abraham and his descendants well before the law, it even saved the life of Moses in Exodus 4.

All of the above may have been the arguments put forward by those Jews who came from Judea and taught that the Gentiles could only be saved if they practiced circumcision. Now how does this differ from saying that you have to tithe to prosper? It is the same line of argument. But what did Paul have to say about it?

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5

If we replace the word circumcision with tithe, it will still read correctly. And please do not bring Malachi 3: 10 into the mix, it simply does not apply.

To promote tithing is to reject grace and embrace the law and when you do this you make yourself the child of the bond woman and not of the free.

And Just as the children of the bond woman persecuted the children of the free, those who tithe glory in their flesh and persecute those who do not tithe. And it is a pity!

Please stop this childishness and flagrant display of foolishness. You cannot win God’s favour, you cannot earn God’s blessings either. The good Lord would always provide your needs and you do not have to bribe Him first.

“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!

Study to show thyself – Tithing and the parable of the talents

A lot has been written and still is being written on the subject of tithing. For a lot of churches it is a requirement for membership, leadership etc. Meticulous tithe records are kept and those who do not tithe are usually berated and publicly ridiculed.

The promise of the tithe is – tithe and you will always have everything in abundance but when this abundance is not forth coming you are then told that tithing is a form of sacrifice that shows your love for God. In other words if you do not tithe you do not love God. That is blackmail undoubtedly.

The focus of this post is not on the legalities of tithing per say but on how it relates to the parable of the talents.

In Mathew 25: 15 – 30, Jesus tells a parable which He likens to the Kingdom of heaven. This parable was of a man whom before travelling to a far country delivered his goods to his servants; to one he gave five talents, two to another and one to the last, each according to their abilities. On his return, he was pleased that he who was given five had made five more; he who was given two had made two more and was angry with him that was given one and brought it back. How does this relate to tithing you may ask? In more ways than you can imagine. Those that promote the practise of tithing tell you that 10% of what you earn is God’s and the rest of the 90% is yours. How true is this? Quite untrue I dare say. The entire 100% you earn belongs to God and He chose to give it to you to see how good a steward you would be with His money. Do not forget that He is the one that gives you the power to make wealth.

The parable of the talents was all about stewardship. The master was pleased with the servants that multiplied the talents given them but was angry with the servant that gave back what was originally given him. What does this tell us? It tells us that God is more interested in the way you spend the entire 100% than in getting a 10% from you. And because some believers are not disciplined in the way they spend money, they are still broke even though they tithe faithfully.

Let me use this illustration to buttress my point. When I was a lot younger, my dad used to give my siblings and I a weekly pocket allowance. He had taken into consideration the amount of money we would likely need to meet our needs for the week such as money for transportation, mobile phone bills etc. Lets say I decide to show to my dad that I love him so much by giving him back 10% of what he originally gave to me, am sure he will be very pleased. If my dad suddenly discovers that I have been struggling to pay my mobile phone bill and have accumulated a huge debt because the 10% I had given to him made it impossible for me to meet my weekly obligations, do you think he will be pleased? Of course not! He would expect me to show a lot more common sense. Let us also imagine that I am able to use the remaining 90% quite well and begin to indulge myself spending frivolously I do not think my dad would be pleased with that either. Also, if I show great responsibility with the 90% spending wisely my dad would certainly be pleased and could quite likely increase my allowance because he knows I am responsible with money.

Good stewardship is all that God requires. If you are heavily in debt and tithing becomes impossibly, God expects you to show common sense by trying to get yourself out of debt. Tithing while in debt and hoping that God would consider it an act of sacrifice and automatically wipe off all your debts is nothing short of wishful thinking. Why did you get into debt in the first place? In the same vane, tithing when you have not paid your bills too does not show good judgement. These are bills you would still have to pay sooner or later and if you choose to pay later you may end up paying more because you may have accrued charges. Why risk bankruptcy in trying to show that you love God? That would no longer be freedom in Christ but a legalistic bondage.

The book of Proverbs 3: 9 admonishes us to honour God with our wealth in other words let the way we manage all He has blessed us with bring honour to HIM. I don’t think bankruptcy brings Him honour.

If you decide that you would like to give God 10% of your monthly earnings there is nothing wrong with that as long as it is something you can afford. Don’t give him 10% and waste the remaining 90% on bank charges, unpaid bills or wasteful spending, that would be very unprofitable.

Why are we christians so selfish?

A lot has been said and is still being said about finances, prosperity et all. All sorts of keys, pearls of wisdom and doctrines are being dished out right, left and centre. A lot of these are personal opinion laced with one or two scriptural references while others are basically new age philosophies with no single scriptural backing whatsoever.

My previous post “only selfish people pay tithes” generated criticism and praises alike, with someone expressing concern that it encouraged the already dwindling tithing population to stop tithing while another’s comment was “If the problem is about being selfish, we all struggle with it; so it’s rather not thoughtful to assume largely that ‘ONLY “selfish people” pay tithes‘.”  This statement in itself is very true, selfishness is an ever-present human trait, whether you tithe or not.

What really does the bible have to say with regards to wealth and prosperity? If we isolate and preach them on their own without making them part of the entire message of the gospel, we run the risk of preaching a distorted gospel. We could liken that to saying that marriage is all about sex, when indeed sex is only a part of a much bigger picture. It is a relationship that involves commitments and sacrifices. Let us look at marriage in more detail.

Marriage is a relationship between a man and his wife.  A healthy marriage is one where this relationship is based on love. This love makes them sensitive to each other’s needs, share all that they have and make sacrifices for one another. They stick with each other through the good and bad times. Neither one of the partners involved put themselves first. This greatly contrasts a marriage that’s based on selfishness; a common example would be a woman marrying a man because he is wealthy or a man marrying a woman because she is good looking, how well will that marriage fare? That relationship is doomed from the start because of this selfishness of one or both parties.

Marriage is not the only relationship that can be exploited to selfish ends; other day-to-day relationships can also suffer the same fate. How do you feel when you have a ‘friend’ who only calls you when he needs something? You feel exploited, you feel used. I even heard that prostitutes feel used after they have been paid for sex! Surely the need to be appreciated is inherent in everyone.

This being said, how well do you think your relationship with God will fare if the only reason you became a Christian is because of what you stand to gain? That, unfortunately, is the problem with prosperity messages of today. God is viewed as a meal ticket. Avarice, selfishness and greed are cleverly disguised under a blanket of self-righteousness. God has now become a slot machine that if you give him $10, you would get $1000 in return. Some even go a step further and advocate that God is even more pleased with sacrificial giving. That is if you give all you have as an act of sacrifice, God would be bound to bless your cotton socks off. Tithes, sacrificial offerings, first fruit offerings, seed faith etc. all take their place within our selfish view of Christianity. These are all done because of the promise of abundant returns.

The fact of the matter remains, God is not interested in your money and He most certainly does not need it! All He requires from you is a relationship with Him! This relationship marks the difference between the early Christians and a lot of us Christians today. The early Christians loved God despite all they went through, they were terribly persecuted and never lost their faith in God. A lot of them were stripped of their personal possessions, thrown alive to lions, burnt alive and even crucified and yet their love for God was still as strong as ever.

The book of Acts never once mentions that offerings were raised to aid the spread of the gospel and yet lives were touched.

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 47)

And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,  (Acts 5: 14)

And when the people gave, they gave out of their love for God born out of a relationship and not because they were promised material returns by the Apostles.

All am saying in earnest is, Christianity is a personal relationship with God. It is a relationship that requires commitment, trust and fellowship. The more time you spend with Him, the more you get to know Him and the more you know Him the more you become like Him and thus you will be able to affect the lives of people you meet.

Only selfish people pay tithes!

What an assertion! I can almost hear somebody say. This guy cannot possibly be a Christian for making such a statement! Well you are entitled to your opinion and that will certainly not change the truth.

Why do people pay their tithes so religiously almost at the expense of many other biblical commands? No one remembers to turn the other cheek when slapped on one cheek. No one remembers to love and pray for his or her enemies when they are offended but instead they call down fire from heaven to incinerate them. Why have people even neglected to provide for their families but would much rather pay tithes forgetting that scripture says that he that does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel and has denied the faith 1 Tim 5:8.

The answer is; “they are selfish”. They do not pay their tithes because they love God; they pay it because they are under the misguided assumption that they will be blessed if they do it. They are more interested in the blessings than anything else. That is their only motivation.

Let 1 Corinthians 13: 3 shed more light on this discussion:

And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Anything not done in love does not amount to anything. If your habit of tithing is not born out of pure love for God, you are definitely wasting your time. Some others try to salve their consciences by saying that they give their tithes to the poor. I still refer those ones to the above scripture; if it not done in love, it is a sheer waste of time. If you are doing it because you want to get a blessing, your motives are impure, very impure.

If you truly learn to love God, you will eventually understand that no amount of giving or tithing can make God love you any more than he already does. If you truly love God, you would not be giving because you hope to receive. You would give because you want to and you will learn to do it selflessly.

The wealthiest guys in world like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet do not give to charity because they expect to receive; they give because they choose to, they are already wealthy. Their wealth did not even come from seeds sown into their lives or faithful tithing on their part.

Stop the self-deceit. Stop the selfishness.

My concern about the doctrine of tithing

After writing my first piece on tithing, I did a rather detailed search on the Internet for teachings on tithing and came across a lot of interesting articles and testimonies. The testimonies particularly cause me a bit of unrest and I still ask the question if believers today fully understand salvation.

There are a lot of claims within the Pentecostal circles of tremendous blessings derived from tithing. People testify of being blessed out of their socks when they began to tithe. There are further claims of favour, health etc. all these have been attributed to tithing. Now this begs me to ask this question; are we saying that an atheist would also experience these wonderful things if he tithed even though he does not believe in God? If I get a yes response that will suggest that Jesus came to die for nothing since we were well able to take care of our needs by ourselves. Now if I get a no response (which I seriously doubt I will get) that paints a completely different picture.

In order to make sense of all of this, I suggest we start at the beginning. Why did Jesus come in the first place? It couldn’t have been that bad that an innocent man had to be sacrificed for the whole world or was it?

We know that Adam and Eve sinned and disobeyed God’s command and because of that God issued this proclamation in Genesis chapter three

17 And to the man he said,

   “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree

      whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,

   the ground is cursed because of you.

      All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.

   18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,

      though you will eat of its grains.

   19 By the sweat of your brow

      will you have food to eat

   until you return to the ground

      from which you were made.

   For you were made from dust,

      and to dust you will return.”

And Paul expounds on this further in I Corinthians where he tells us that death came through one man, Adam. We see that man was introduced into a life of struggle because of Adam’s disobedience. The sweet relationship Adam once shared with God had been severed and God introduced an interim measure, animal sacrifice. This remained constant throughout the Old Testament.

However, things seem to take a different turn in Genesis12; God calls Abraham. There is no record that this was due to an act of righteousness on Abraham’s part. This was actually something different from what had been. The bible says God calls Abraham and establishes a covenant with Abraham, promising to make him into a great nation and also promising to bless him tremendously. Was this promise of God due to any acts of righteousness Abraham performed? We should not forget that after God called him, he went to sojourn in Egypt and lied that his wife was his sister. Did God withhold His promise from Abraham because of that? No He didn’t. Instead the Egyptians were punished for something they were ignorant of.

This in itself laid the foundation for what God was about to do; mankind justified by faith and not by works lest anyone should boast. Genesis 15:6 says Abraham believed God and that made him (Abraham) righteous before God. Justification by faith. In order to pave the way for this to affect the entire mankind, the law was introduced, a schoolmaster until Jesus was revealed. Did mankind in anyway deserve this gift of God? No we didn’t. Did we need to have a special requirement before we could enjoy this great gift? Negative as well. Then why have we become like the Galatian church and now believe that we need to do something before God blesses us? We are now trying to earn what we already have.

We have now successfully reintroduced Christianity by works instead of faith, taking us back hundreds of years to the time before the Reformation. This was a time the Catholic Church held sway and more or less dominated the ancient world. They introduced a lot of false doctrines and prevented the people form gaining access to the bible. This made it easy for their deceits to prosper. What was really worthy of note was their ingenuous means of raising funds, The Sale of Indulgence. This was the practice of paying to get ones sins forgiven. Now doesn’t this sound a little familiar? What does the payments of tithes promise? Health, wealth, prosperity etc.

If we did not do anything to make Jesus die for us why then do we think that we have to do something before He blesses us? We have been told that in order to prosper financially we have to sow seeds into the lives and ministries of so called men of God. Pay tithes and give offerings. Is that what the bible says?

Our boast is no longer on the cross. We have successfully obscured its message and replaced it with the message of works. We now boast about all that we have accomplished through our faithful practise of tithing. I am so sure Martin Luther would be turning in his grave by now. Him and many others put their lives on the line to liberate us from this works mentality but no we’ve chosen to go back to it.

God does not bless you because you tithe, sow seeds or give sacrificially. If that were the case, God then contradicts himself and there was no point in His introduction of grace.

The covenant in the blood of Jesus secures your health, secures your prosperity and your wealth. It is all part of the salvation package you receive on the day you give your life to Jesus.

In conclusion, I will turn our attention to the Revelation 5:12

Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

Jesus has them all and gives them to you when you receive him, period!

Why should I tithe? Myths about tithing.

I can clearly remember the day I surrendered my heart to Jesus. I still remember the little talk I had with a counsellor who told me things I needed to do to get started in my Christian walk; read the book of John in the New Testament and cultivate a habit of praying always amongst other things.

I truly believed that missing a Church service for any reason whatsoever was a sin, not participating in church activities was also a sin. Armed with these revelations I was already on my way to being a good Christian. I had in my head a picture of how a Christian should be and most Christians around me mirrored that image. We believed the same things; we acted the same way and were really interested in pleasing God at all costs. We had a code of conduct; unspoken rules of how a Christian should act. In our minds anyone who did not conform to this conduct was not a Christian at all.

After a long time of obeying these rules, there came a time when I was totally dissatisfied with the status quo and I wondered if this was all Christianity had to offer? Money was the yardstick for measuring blessings from God; God’s hand could be forced by an act of sacrifice which could include seed sowing, tithing, sacrificial giving et all. All these acts woven together portray Christianity as we know it today.

I began to question Christianity as we know it after I watched a programme on TV about a cult founder and the members of his cult. The cult was accused of terrible crimes including murder and racism. The members, all blacks, were encouraged to kill whites and this was an act of their faith. They did this religiously and were responsible for a lot of killings in their area. As I watched the programme, I could not believe people could be so gullible and so easily lose the ability to reason and think for themselves. They bought into everything the leader said without raising any objections. As I criticised the members for being so gullible, something deep down on the inside of me made me realise I was no different.

How many of us of the Pentecostal faith hold dear the words of our leaders? Get really angry if we feel they are being criticised? Unconsciously put the word of our leaders over the Bible? Believe that if we raise any objections to any action of our leader we have crossed the line and have made God angry? Sounds familiar? Why and how does this differ from a cult? In a cult the leader is always right, his authority should never be questioned, he is seen as God by his members and everything he says goes. Again I ask and please be very truthful to yourself, doesn’t this sound familiar?

Right from the day we give our lives to Jesus we have been conditioned to act in a certain way. Our being told to read the book of John marks the beginning of legalistic Christianity. Works and acts of good will replace God’s intention of justification by faith in Jesus Christ and not of works (Rom 1:17). I also noticed something quite amusing; my knowledge of scripture was based on what I had been taught by preachers and since we have been unconsciously led to believe that our men of God are infallible I never bothered checking scriptures to see these doctrines for myself.

The day I discovered that Jesus was not born in a manger, what! I can almost hear you say, made me question a lot of the doctrines we have been taught. Now back to Jesus’ birth, if he was not born in a manger then where was he born? As trivial as this sounds, it goes further to prove my point. Lets take a quick look at Luke 2: 7 and clear this up:

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

The bible never says where he was born but only states he was laid in a manger AFTER he was born. This discovery made me wonder how many more untrues we may have been taught.

I then decided to KNOW God for MYSELF. And the quest to know more of God began. I bought a bible written in very simple English and started to read it afresh from the very beginning and my discoveries startled me. We Pentecostals have made a smooth transition into legalistic Orthodox Church practise. What started as a protest against these practises has morphed into the very thing we tried to get away from.

We have been told that in order to make a demand on the anointing of a man of God, we have to sow a seed into his ministry; if we are believing God for anything, sow a seed; if we need a new job, sow a seed; if we need a fresh anointing, sow a seed; if we want to get out of debt, sow a seed; if we want healing, sow a seed; if we want financial breakthrough and want to experience prosperity, sow a seed as well as pay your tithes so that God will rebuke the devourer on your finances. Amazing! Since when do we get the things of God by depositing money? I can understand the aspect of seed sowing although it is based on very shaky foundation; we would attempt to discuss this later. The aspect tithing being a requirement for today’s church has been the greatest money related lie ever told. To me it rivals the Catholics sale of indulgence.

Now am sure I have struck a chord and must have put a lot of us off reading the rest of this piece but before you nail me to the cross of criticism hear me out first.

I have been told that the reason why we have to tithe in today’s church is because we are following Abraham’s example, basically he paid tithes before the law was introduced so we should do likewise. Interesting! Then those of us believing God for children should following his example and get the maid pregnant, lie that our wives are our sisters and yes of course sacrifice our sons as a way to show to God how we trust him. Ummm! Please ignore my cynicism and let’s move on. To further lean weight to this doctrine, we are told that all who default on their tithes are under a curse. The plot thickens. If you do not pay your tithe you are endangering the entire congregation you belong to because you have become like Achan and are in possession of an “accursed” thing. Your church would be in trouble because of you! There is no one that hears this that would not be afraid, I most certainly was.

Let us put all that we know or think we know about tithing aside for a moment and examine the scriptures to see what it says about it.

The first mention of tithes in scripture was in relation to Abraham and his meeting with Melchizedek. Gen 14 (KJV)

4And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

15And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

16And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

17And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.

18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. 

It is stated boldly, Abraham paid his tithes! True, but let us see if the events that surround his tithe-paying tally with what we have been taught. We are told that our key to prosperity lies in tithing, in other words if you do not tithe you will not prosper. This suggests that Abraham had to tithe in order to prosper, right? Wrong! Let us look at the preceding chapter before tithing was mentioned. Genesis 13

1And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

2And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

He was already wealthy before he ever paid tithes! Genesis chapter 14 does not tell us that Abraham was commanded to give the tithe to Melchizedek, he gave it to Melchizedek voluntarily. The tithe was not ten percent of his (Abraham’s earnings) earnings nor was it from anything that belonged to him. It was from the recovered plunder. He gave a tenth to Melchizedek and gave the rest to the King of Sodom. If this is the reason we have been told to tithe, then we should at least do it the way Abraham did it. Go raid the house of an enemy, cart away all his goods, pay a tithe of all you have gotten and give the rest to whomsoever you wish. Abraham was not under any obligation to pay a tithe to Melchizedek, if he did not give a tithe he would not have sinned or brought a curse unto himself.

From Abraham’s account we can gather the following things

Abraham was already wealthy before he met Melchizedek
Abraham did not give Melchizedek a tenth of his own possession.
Abraham was not following a command to tithe, so he would not have been under a curse if he did not.
He gave the tithe voluntarily, so we can safely say that it was a free will offering. Maybe given in appreciation for his success in the war and nothing more.

Where does that leave Malachi 3: 10? At least it explicitly says you would be under a curse if you do not tithe. Ok, before we look at that let me introduce a new revelation. This revelation would help you seal the promises that God gave to Abraham in your life.

Every male Christian has to be circumcised in order to claim God’s blessings. Someone would say, no that is in the Old Testament and most certainly not a New Testament practice. Well let me build my case from scripture.

God command Abraham to get circumcised before the law. Let’s look at Genesis 17

9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.

10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

When the Law was given through Moses circumcision was enforced. No uncircumcised person was allowed to eat the Passover. Exodus 12: 48

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

The danger of not being circumcised is also seen BEFORE the Law in the life of Moses.

24And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

25Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

26So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

Exodus 4: 24 – 26

With circumcision blatantly present in scripture, why doesn’t the church preach it today? We have certainly shown that it existed before the law; it was practiced by Abraham (the father of faith I might add) and saved the life of Moses.

Let us leave circumcision for a while and go back to our discussion on tithing. Now let us carefully consider the book of Malachi, the most popular book for Pentecostal preachers. How many of us have ever bothered to read the entire book of Malachi? Surely it does not comprise of just chapter three and verse eight to eleven. Maybe it does in some preachers’ Bibles. Don’t worry I will lose the sarcasm and get back to the matter at hand. Lets look at Malachi 3: 8 – 9 together

8Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

9Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

From my little knowledge of the English language, the above verses do not appear to be a command for a future generation i.e. the church to follow. I can hear some super spiritual brother saying; this guy is trying to use English to explain the Bible when he should be relying on the Holy Spirit for interpretation. If there were not place for Language, the scriptures would never have been written down but would have been delivered to minds by the Holy Sprit straight up. “One verse of scripture coming up”. There is nothing futuristic about these verses but statements made to correct an erring Nation.

Now the bible says in Romans 4: 16 that when there is no law, there is no sin. So in order for one to come under condemnation for not paying one’s tithes, there has to be a law that commands that. We have established that Abraham did not tithe (It was actually a one time event anyway) based on the requirement of a law and so would not have transgressed if he did not pay. I did not mention the second mention of tithe in the Bible, which was in the book of Genesis 28: 20 -22 and this involved Jacob. This as well was not a requirement from God but was done out of freewill. (Although there is no record he ever paid it). Then, there must have been a previous command for those whom the Lord was speaking to in the book of Malachi to tithe and they must have been aware of that law.

Let us consider this for a minute though, who was the Lord speaking to in the book of Malachi? A quick glimpse at Malachi 1: 1 should tell us.

The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

In order to get a proper perspective of this let us look at one of the Pauline epistles, say, The epistle to the Colossians. Paul wrote to them to encourage them as well as address any issues they may have had amongst themselves. This can be said of the Book of Malachi, written to the Israelites living in a particular period. Obviously, a lot of things had gone wrong and when reading from chapter one it is clear that was being addressed including the issue of marriage, divorce, tithes and offerings. Why on earth would we use that as reason to support the tithe doctrine? It was not addressed to the church in the first place. The doctrine of tithe did not originate in the book of Malachi. We need to look at when it was instituted as part of the law in order to enable us understand Malachi 3: 8 properly.

The law of tithing was first mentioned in the book Leviticus 27: 30 – 34

30And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy unto the LORD.

31And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.

32And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

33He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.

34These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

In the above verse we see when tithing was instituted and clearly money was never mentioned as something to tithe. Verse 30 and 32 categorically states that the tithe is from agricultural produce namely foodstuff and livestock and nothing else. Someone would say, “Money was not around then”. We will see what scriptures have to say about that. Before we do that let us look at tithes more closely. They were two major kinds of tithe God instructed the children of Israel to give. Though some people believe they were three. Either way there was more than one kind of tithe required.

The first kind of tithe was to be given to the Levites. The Levites where not allowed to do any form of secular work and thus had to live off the tithes of the remaining eleven tribes.

But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. Numbers 18: 24

The Levites in turn gave a tithe of that tithe to Aaron the priest

26Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.

27And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.

28Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest.

29Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it.

30Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress.

31And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.

32And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die.

Numbers 18: 26 –32

So the first kind of tithe was to take care of the Levites and the Priests. What then was the second kind of tithe?

17Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:

18But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.

Deuteronomy 12: 17 – 18

Eat your tithe? I thought we were told you SHOULD never eat your tithe? There is more to come:

22Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

23And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.

24And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:

25Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:

26And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

27And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.

28At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

Deuteronomy 14: 22 – 28

Remember I said we were going to look at the issue of money being available during these times. A quick look at verse 25 tells us money was available then. This means that only the farmers where to pay tithes. All other professions, craftsmen, fishermen, labourers etc. did not tithe wages paid to them. The Lord commanded the children of Israel to eat this other tithe at a place he had commanded them. This other tithe was used during the feast of tabernacles and was also used to feed the widows, the orphans and all the less fortunate ones.

All tithes were collected every three years.

12When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;

13Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.

14I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.

15Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

Deuteronomy 26: 12 – 15

Looking at the book of Malachi through the eye of these scriptures, we see that the book was not written to Christians, telling them the penalty of not paying their tithes but to the children of Israel reminding them of the penalty of disobeying God’s commands.

13And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

14That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

15And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.

16Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;

17And then the LORD’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.

Deuteronomy 11: 13 – 17

We rate tithing highly in the church of today but it is not a subject the apostles or Jesus taught about. Its been said that Jesus taught on it and this scripture is given as the reference:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Mathew 23: 23

Yet again I ask, are Christians Scribes and Pharisees? Why can’t we take scripture the way it is without adding to it? This was a rebuke by Jesus and not a teaching to pay tithe! When we read from verse one of this chapter we see that Jesus was addressing the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Let me make this illustration, if I had a friend who washes his car regularly that it gleams like its new and does not service the car at all and I tell him: “You should service your car without omitting washing it”, have I made a general statement to everybody that you must all service your car? No I have made a particular statement to a particular person addressing his habit. That is what Jesus was doing, addressing the bad habits of the Scribes and Pharisees. This is the problem we get when we pick a verse rather read the whole chapter to get a better understanding of the topic being discussed.

The other time Jesus ever made mention of tithing was also in connection with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees again. The Pharisee went into the place of prayer felling justified by his works. Some of our tithing brethren display this attitude.

9And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18: 9 -14

This verse is self explanatory unless we desire to wrest scriptures and add to it.

If tithing was so relevant to the church in the new dispensation why didn’t any of the apostles mention it? Something that important would certainly not have been omitted in their epistles.  Luke would have mentioned it in the book of acts when he mentioned the apostles’ charge to the gentiles.

This brings us to the doctrine of circumcision. Some of us may have figured out that I told a fib earlier, some of us may have believed it totally while others may have abandoned this piece after reading the circumcision bit. The so called revelation on circumcision sounds quite outlandish most especially after one has seen it written in the New Testament that it was not a requirement for righteousness.

1And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

3And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.

4And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.

5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

6And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

7And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

8And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

10Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

11But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

12Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

13And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:

14Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

15And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,

16After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

17That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

18Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

19Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:

20But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

Acts 15: 1 – 20

Now let us imagine that tithing was the issue, what do you think the response of the Apostles would have been? I presented an argument on circumcision using the same evidence that we use to support the tithe doctrine and it did not stand the test of time after considering the above verses.

This brings me to the crux of the matter. From looking at the book of Galatians, we can safely conclude that it was the Galatian church that was being compelled to get circumcised.

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Galatians 5: 1 – 6

Paul in very strong terms condemned those that were compelling the Galatians to get themselves circumcised and the Galatians themselves that were considering getting circumcised. They were trying the achieve righteousness by works or by keeping the law and the law brought consciousness of sin. We established earlier that when there is no law, there is no sin. Paul went on further to say that any one that tries to keep the law brings himself under a curse

10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Galatians 3: 10 -11

We as Christians are to live a life of faith and not of observing the law because it will always bring us under condemnation. You will never enjoy true fellowship with God if you think you have to engage in acts of righteousness to please him.

Christ has been made a curse for us and has redeemed us from the curse of the law. It is impossible to be under a curse as a child of God for not paying your tithes because you are not under the law but under grace. And where there is no law there is no sin.

12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Galatians 3: 12 – 13

I am not advocating stinginess in the church, neither am I encouraging people not to give towards the work of God. I am only pointing out where we have erred. And err we have! How can giving ten percent of what you earn every month keep the devil at bay? If you advocate this doctrine, you are in effect saying that you do not need the sacrifice of Jesus and you are very capable of taking on the devil by yourself with your works. What a pity! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! You cannot supplement your salvation by the works of your hand, you cannot be in right standing with God by doing good deeds in the name of putting God first or giving him the best. Those of the old dispensation could not get right with God by doing that so why do we think we can? God has made it easier for us, we do not have to live by a set of rules, and there are no dos and don’ts that we have to obey to make us right before Him. That is why Jesus came and with the death of Jesus, there had to be a change in the way we relate to God.

I will conclude by saying, if you feel within your heart that you should tithe, please do so by all means but if you tithe because you are compelled, made to feel guilty by your pastor or threatened with excommunication, God is not in it. No one has any right to compel anyone to tithe. If you do not believe in tithing like me, you have not sinned either. Let us look at the book of Romans 14

1 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2 -4For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

5Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6 -9What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10 -12So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,

“every knee will bow before me;

Every tongue will tell the honest truth

that I and only I am God.” So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13 -14Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

15 -16If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

17 -18God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

19 -21So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

22 -23Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

Walk in the liberty Christ has secured for you and never again feel condemned for not tithing.