Robins ‘hood – Steal from the poor and give to the rich.

11 04 2008

If that previous story is your experience of Church my heart goes out to you because that is not what Church is supposed to be. There’s a lot of issues in that story and i’ll look at them separately.

First off lets look at tithing and money. This is such a heated debate amongst many churches. My wife and I personally give money to our Church, but I’m glad to report that the Church has never guilt tripped us into giving.  I also want to make this clear that this is not an attack on giving as i believe generosity is part and parcel of being Human. Nobody likes to hang around stingy people. What I am against is the guilt trip, and flagrant abuse of the gospel in order to suck money out of people who cannot afford to give it in the first place.

I like giving to others. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something good. Even if the recipient doesnt know it was me. There’s something encouraging about the whole process. Every time I get disatisfied with my life, I find giving can be sure fire cure for it. It changes my perspective. I no longer get caught up with making myself happy. I’m not only talking about giving money but time, effort, and friendship etc. But how can you consider an activity as giving when its forced? Then it becomes taking. In my opinion many churches today are taking from their followers and perverting the gospel to do it. I’ve lost count how many times i’ve heard that scripture from Malachi 3quoted in Sermons. Many pastors use this to say that if people give to God (ie them) then God will bless them. But if they dont tithe to their Church then they are robbing God.

There are a couple of problems that flow on from that kind of preaching (besides ignoring the context of scripture and actual meaning & purpose of tithing in the Old Testament). Lets take what those ideas to their logical conclusions. If someone gives to the Church and doesnt receive a financial blessing have they done something wrong to offend God? Did they not give enough? Have they sinned? If someone doesnt tithe because they cant afford to, are they robbing God? Do they not trust God to provide for them? Honestly without reading any other biblical verses for support I can see the flaws in that logic. Its seems so ironic that these Churches appeal to peoples greed and desire to be rich as a motivation to give. But doesnt that rob us of the true joy of giving simply to bless someone else?

I’ve heard many sermons preached about tithing, mostly mini sermons while the tithe is being taken up, but I’ve never heard anything preached on 1 Timothy 5:8

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Looking at the theology of tithing, I find it odd that we apply Malachi to believers without regard for its context. Malachi is speaking to a group of dishonest Old Covenant Israelite Priests, not the New Covenant Church. Many pastors also want to equate the word “Storehouse” in Chapter 3:10 with  Church. However nowhere in the New Testament is the Church ever referred to as a storehouse. It always refers to believers who assemble to worship. Its also worth noting that tithing always refers to food. It never ever refers to money, silver or gold. For more on this see Russell Kelly’srebuttal of Paul De Jongs tithing sermon. I think we need to see tithing in its proper light, that it related to food given to the Levites, the Israelite Priesthood, who had no means of providing for themselves, and we have evidence that this was used to feed the widows, the orphans and the poor too. It was a set of laws given to a particular group of people within Israels borders. Its part of the old law and this passed away when Jesus died on the cross. We need to see tithing in the context of Acts 15:19-21 where the council of believers met in Jerusalem. The Jews at the time were telling the Gentiles that they needed to be circumcised in order to follow Jesus. However this council agreed that the ceremonial laws and such no longer applied in the light of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Romans 6:13-15 tells us that we are under Grace not under Law.

If you are a Christian, and you believe in what your Church is doing then give what is on your heart to give. No more and no less. Be sensible with it. Dont give expecting a return on your “investment”. Don’t expect a trouble free life either. Giving is no gurantee of success. Thats looking at in the wrong way. For me I know that where my heart goes my wallet follows. I am a great believer in the Church and the work that the Lord does through it. No one will force me to give anything I dont want to. I give with a sound mind, and trust that Lord will use what I give to bless others I can’t. Tithing needs to be seen in light its cultural context, all of the scriptural text surrounding it, and in light of the Cross. We have to have an integrated approach to theology. 

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