4/08/2014

The Dark Side of Tithing Testimonies


I work for a department in the foreclosure side of a bank as a mortgage underwriter. Every day I attempt to modify the mortgages of people who are behind on their payments, and adjust the terms of their loan so as to make their home more affordable, so they can resume making their payments, and keep their home. In the process of doing my job, I have occasionally analyzed the tax records and bank statements of people who tithe and make donations to various ministries.

I have seen people who tithe lose their home to foreclosure.

Over the years I have been in the church and involved in ministry, I have known some fantastic Christian people on a very personal level who believed in tithing. I've seen some these people tithe their way into deep everlasting poverty. I have seen very few people tithe their way out of poverty.

I've seen people "trust God with their finances," but they couldn't keep a bank account open. Either because they were worried about creditors suing them and seizing their assets, or because they couldn't keep a balance high enough to justify a checking account.

I have known people who tithe to have their phones ring off the hook at all hours of the day due to creditors calling for unpaid bills.

I have known people that tithe that have spent years suffering chronic unemployment, who would even tithe from their unemployment checks.

I have known people who tithe that needed people to co-sign for them on a car loan (which means a bank wouldn't lend them money because their credit was trash or they simply didn't make very much money).

I have known people who tithe to drive the most unreliable cars in the world, that constantly breakdown, leave them stranded, and further suck their already limited resources dry.

I have known people who tithe that regularly rely on government aid or the charity of others in order to just survive and have the basics in life.

Some of the people I have known in the above scenarios have been "lay people." But some have also been ordained ministers within the church. And for many ministers in various denominational affiliations, this is a major predicament, because the credentials they hold with their denomination require them to tithe. If they fail to tithe, they could lose their credentials, their church, and their job. So in spite of their extreme financial hardships that some suffer from, they continue to tithe so as to avoid unemployment, or losing a ministry that is precious to them.

Yet, in spite of all these bone crushing hardships people have suffered while tithing, and in spite of going through foreclosure, being behind on bills, being unemployed, and living in deep poverty, I have sat in church and heard some of these same people stand up and testify about how "blessed" they were financially for tithing. If their creditors were in the room, they would disagree. If they are so blessed, and if heaven is so open, why aren't they paying all their bills?

For every story I've heard where somebody stands up, testifies to God's faithfulness in tithing, and then tells stories of groceries left at the door, or receiving anonymous checks in the mail, I know of a hundred other people who went without groceries, and whose mail boxes were full of nothing but "past due" and "shut off" notices. Ashamed, many choose to say little to nothing at all about this in church. Even if they did want to share, many pastors would probably not let them do so.

I don't mean for this post to come across as harsh, unloving, or cynical. I'm just attempting to be very real about the things I know and to generate a real discussion about the modern practice of tithing. I am very deeply conflicted about the things I have seen in church over the years, and testimonies connected with people who tithe. I don't think many in the church are being very honest. We are very selective in the stories we tell, and we are guilty of telling half-truths. We ignore any story that could hurt the size of our offering. We don't want the real truth.

Many ministers know of these things, but continue to selectively celebrate "success stories" while deliberately ignoring the stories of people who tested God with their tithe, yet have seemingly seen God fail them. Their selective success stories are like fisherman who tell stories of big catches, but never tell you about the days they caught nothing. Their selective success stories are like professional stock traders who tell stories of 100 percent gains, but don't tell you of the time they saw a stock they own go all the way down to zero.

Some who know of these things will even go so far as to say these failure stories are not evidence of a busted doctrine, but are evidence that the person who was tithing wasn't doing it with the right heart. Or, they will make some other charge of guilt against their brother and sister who was so bold as to give 10 percent of their income, even in the face of financial adversity. Something must be wrong with them and why they tithed but didn't see the results. Then they will go on to rehash a success story they know of, that reinforces the idea that tithing always works, and using it to discount the not so happy story. This my friends is known as propaganda.

As a result, most never bother to genuinely question the doctrine of tithing altogether, and whether or not Christians today are required to tithe, in spite of the knowledge that there are people whose tithing stories aren't so successful. No genuine inquiry and no real "testing" is allowed. No failure stories are kept, recorded, or remembered, except in the memories of people whose financial lives have been turned up-side down because somebody twisted their arm and encouraged them to tithe, and misapplied some promises from the Old Testament.

If we are going to tell people to "test God" in with their tithe, then we better be open and honest about the whole truth of the matter, and tell all the stories of people who tested God with their tithe, only to seemingly see God fail. Some people tithe, and never see heaven so much as crack open an inch. Instead they suffer bankruptcy, foreclosure, unemployment, broken down cars, and outlandish medical bills and other outstanding debilitating issues.

It is my contention that because God does not require Christians to tithe under the New Covenant, the promised blessing of Malachi 3:10-11 has no bearing anymore, and that is why we cannot "test God" in tithing. I believe we are called to a different sort of stewardship and a different form of giving altogether.

Keep the conversation going. Share this article on Facebook and Twitter. Leave comments below, keep the conversation going. Additional blog posts on this topic to follow...

38 comments:

  1. You are so right, Sir! Thanks for the article! Will share on Facebook! I tweeted my blog to you too with an article I wrote back in 2012 on Extortion. Hope you enjoy it. And you may use any article I write if you wish. God bless!

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  2. Thank you. It's definitely thought provoking to call the modern practice of tithing extortion! Being that I've known some godly sincere men who truly believed in tithing and preached it, I am not so sure I would go that far. But some definitely are engaging in the practice!

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  3. You are so right and you know it will be a long way that the people who got brainwashed from there pastors will see that God has no money printing machine. I know from a woman in America she work the same way to tell people who live at the low standart, like most of the members of the penecostal movement that they should stop tithing, and that they should look first that their family can live and that they can pay all their bills and that beeing a real christian is not about how much money you can give it is more about how you live and that you have a good heart and that you should help other people and that must not always be money to go every day to a person who needs help in her house or to speak with her because she live alone, that is what God loves more and that is what it means to be a real christian.

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  4. Signs of end time, strange doctrines, heresies

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  5. You are precise and correct my friend. The truth of the matter is there is no New Testament tithing law. There are many passages in the NT that teach giving, Luke 6:38 being foremost. However, giving and tithing are not the same. Tithing was strictly for the Old Economy of the Levitical priesthood, and only herdsman and farmers were required to tithe under the Old Covenant. The tithing pimps who dare to pull out of context Mal 3:8-11 to intimidate people to pump money into their greediness is deplorable. In the ninth chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul is teaching about the giving to poor saints, and this sums up the tithing lie: "Every man according as he purposes in his heart, (so let him give); not out of sorrow, or of imposed custom: for GOD loves a cheerful giver" 2 Cor 9:7. GOD bless!

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  6. Good teaching and good insight and testimony into what's going on in your church and many churches in America. Your church even has it's tithing policy online: http://elevationstl.com/#/giving/the-purpose-of-the-tithe

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    1. Thanks Brent. I appreciate it. I should be noted that the link you shared is with another church of the same name, but is not part of the church I attend :-)

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  7. Your thoughts have been my thoughts for a long time. Ever since I heard a sermon at a Vineyard church about giving instead of tithing. Previously, I had gone to a AOG church which taught the "curse of God" on anyone not tithing. Tithing as it taught is a twisted bit of no logic whatsoever. We are not under the Law, nor are we citizens of old Israel paying their system of taxes. Not anyone of the three different ones that are mentioned in the Law.

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  8. Our Pastor don't preach tithing, He preach Christ as our Life. When Christ is in us. Giving is not issue anymore. The law requires 10%, by giving 10% we are under the Law. We are under Grace giving is more than the Law requires.The Law (shadow) is obsolete and the substance is Christ..

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  9. THE FAILURE IS NOT IN GOD, BUT IN US NOT UNDERSTANDING AND REALIZING THAT WE ARE TO LET VE BY GRACE AND FAITH AND NOT BY THE LETTER IF THE LAW. THE BIBLE SAYS: THE LETTER KILLETH. WE GAIN ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH BELIEVING THE LATTER COVENANT OF GOD WHICH CAME TO US IN THE FORM OF EMMANUEL GOD WITH US. JESUS CAME TO GIVE US LIFE, AND LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY. AFTER WE HAVE LEARNED THE ELEMENTARY THINGS TGAT THE LAW TAUGHT US ABOUT WHAT THINGS WE OUGHT AND OUGH NOT TO DO, THEN WE MUST APPLY THE MESSAGE OF THE NEW COVENANT (THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST TO OURVLIVES, THROUGH THE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WE HAVE ESTABLISHED WITH HIM BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, BELIEVING THAT WE HAVE INDEED BEEN MADE RIGHT WITH GOD, UNDERSTANDING THAT OUR SALVATION AND OUR CURRENT STATUS OF HAING OUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST BEING ACCOUNTED UNTO USVAS READ RIGHTEOUSNESS HAS been TAKEN AWAY THE NEED FOR OUR EFFORT TO TR TO KEEP THE LAW OF TITHING AND OF EVEN TRAY NG TO LOVE SARAH MEONE IN OUR OWN STRENGTH. IT SHOULD BE evidence TO US NOW THAT WITHOUT A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, BY BELIEVING WHO JESUS CHRIST IS, WE WILL ALWAYS FIND OURSELVES FAILURE NG AGAIN AND AGAIN. BECAUSE WE READ THE HOLY BIBLE AND LISTEN TO IT TAUGHT TO US BY THE LETTER, AS THE OLD TIME JEWISH PRIEST ABD PEOPLE DID, RATHER THAN AS THE DICIPLES WHO WERE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST WHO USERED IN TO US THE NEW COVENANT ANDVTHE NEW TESTAMENT. THIS WAS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW, NOT THE DESTRUCTIVE N OF IT. NONE OF US AS HUMAN BEINGS CAN FULFILL THE LAW, NOT THEN NOR NOW. BECAUSE GOD SENTVUS JESUS CHRIST, AND HE DID IT ALL PERFECTLY. NOW WE JUST NEED ONLY TO PRAY AND BELIEVE THAT WE CAN RECEIVE THE POWER OT THE HOLY GHOST, THE POWER OF GOD' PERFECT LOVE it N THE ESSENCE OF THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST LAST VIA NG ON THE INSIDE OF US, AND THE N, WHEN WE DO, THEN IT IS NOT DIFFICULT TO ALLOW HIM TO HELP US FULFILL THE COMMANDMENS TO LOVE GOD, CF AND OUR NEIGHBOR AS WE OURSELVES. AFTER ALL IT US ON THESE TWO STATUTES THAT ALL THE RIGHT THE NGS WE SHOULD BE DOINT IS BUILT OR ESTABLISHED. ONLY THOSE WHO ARE BORN AGAIN. GOD WAS NOT TALKINGVTO THE WORLD, BUT TO THOSE WHO ARE THE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE. WE MUS ASK, SEEK, ANS KNOCK, AND WE WILL GAIN WISDOM FOR LIVING A GODLY CONTNT AND PRMedia SOEROUS LIFE HERE ON EARTH. NOT THE WUSDOM OF THIS WORLD, BUT THE SPIRITUAL WISDOM WHICH CAN ONLY COME FORM OUR GOD. MAY GOD BLESS US ALL, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, I PRAY___ AMEN!

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  10. please Excuse the many typing errors. if I can figure out how to edit this post, I plan to do just that, as soon as I can. I am not computer knowledgeable as I'd like and need to be, but, I try not yo let that hinder or stop me from writing, anyway! Thanks, I hope you will extend Mercy and grace to me in regards to this issue, to all I can become more skilled, at CV typing and using computer technology.

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  11. There are more ways to be blessed by God for tithing than just financial. That being said, I don't believe God is saying he'd make us wealthy or even comfortable. That is a very Western mindset. In the OT, NT and elsewhere in the third world, people are tithing, are extremely poor, but would assert they are greatly blessed.

    I joyfully tithe and even "give" beyond that. We are probably one of those families you look at on paper and see our debt to income ratio and shake your head at. But we have been amazingly and overwhelming blessed -- sometimes financially just when we needed it and sometimes in other ways. I count it a privilege to continue in what I consider an act of worship.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective, I appreciate it!

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  12. I used to give my tithe to Benny Hinn, a well known televangelist in Florida for years. They can check that in their records, when I suddenly stopped. I lost my job. I continued tithing any money I received as help from relatives and friends, thinking that, since he (Hinn) is powerful, I would get a job in 1 month at least, if not weeks. Months passed by, and years, and still no job. I stopped tithing any more, even if I eventually found a job and just give to charity (10%).

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    1. Very interesting story! I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, but glad you were able to recover financially. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Thought provoking but no thanks.

    I tithe not because I'm obliged to nor am I expectinb something from God in return. God doesn't need my money but I tithe as an act of worship, my way of acknowledging that God is my source. With that being said STEWARDSHIP is an act or worship as well. So whether you are a tither or not we should be a better manager of what God has given us.

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    1. Then I would encourage you to keep tithing if that is your act of worship before the Lord. But if others choose not to worship God in that way, then celebrate with them as they worship God in the way they see fit.

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  14. Thought provoking but no thanks.

    I tithe not because I'm obliged to nor am I expectinb something from God in return. God doesn't need my money but I tithe as an act of worship, my way of acknowledging that God is my source. With that being said STEWARDSHIP is an act or worship as well. So whether you are a tither or not we should be a better manager of what God has given us.

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  15. Interestingly God doesn't invite us to worship him as we see fit. Instead Jesus himself says that we are to worship in spirit and in truth. It is hard to know what to give to the person who has everything (God), so he tells us - "If you love me, keep my commandments." I know I can't perfectly keep his laws, Jesus did that for me, but in a sincere act of love, I do my best to keep his commandments, because that is what he asked me to do. Matthew 23:23 is pretty straight forward on tithing "... you should practice love, mercy,and faithfulness; without neglecting tithing..." and it is straight from Christ's lips.

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    1. You shouldn't misquote Jesus on purpose and then pretend to instruct others about worshipping God in Spirit and truth. You might want to look up Matthew 23:23 again and then rethink your theology. For if you are going to use Mattthew 23:23 to demand we tithe, you are going to need to use it to demand we offer animal sacrifices too, and to circumcise our sons on the 8th day, and to avoid eating medium rare steaks, or burgers with a slice of cheese.

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    2. I'm reminded that where our treasure is, our heart lies. Giving financially is another aspect of trusting our Savior with everything. Since money always seems to be what we hold on to the tightest, it is an act of worship. It is not a matter of the tithe but whether the church acts as a storehouse. Since the western church does not act as a storehouse, I would agree that not all 10% should got there, but I would be curious as to all these people who agree with your blog about not tithing. Are they giving generously or using your blog as agreement to hold on to what they believe is right fully theirs. Those who love their money never have enough and this blog post will keep them there. Much love and figuring this out with you.
      Chris

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    3. A great question. Many people will use such things as I wrote about in this particular post as a reason to close their hearts and hide their wallets. I hope nobody does that as a result of reading my blog. Instead I hope they think critically about how they give, to whom, and then search for opportunities not to give less, but to give more.

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  16. Hey. Are you Christian? I dont mean for that to be insulting or a challenge or I just want to say that scripture promises divine healing, prosperity etc...and all the promises is based on believing God for it. It happens that some people get the promises after the 'believe' others dont. Does that make Christianity a hoax and that we should not believe in any God at all seeing it is not an exact science?

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    1. I don't believe in what is commonly called the "health and wealth" or "prosperity" Gospel. While I believe God is watching out for us and will meet our needs, I also know that He promises us tribulation in this world.

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  17. What about tithing 10% by providing the church with essential items, like cases of water for the thirsty or Kleenex for the sadened? I try to afford the 10% in cash, but doesn't always work out. So when I go shopping, I try to buy what the church needs.

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  18. Most of you have problem with tithing. Read proverb 3 : 9 and Malachi 3 : 8... you are not going to choose nice scriptures that suite your life style. You are all on about New Testament that tithing was not mentioned, yeah right it wasn't because Jesus came to rectify the wrong and leave the right. According to you Heaven should also be split into Old Testament crew and New Testament crew. You act like devil's advocate.....!!!!

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  19. Most of you have problem with tithing. Read proverb 3 : 9 and Malachi 3 : 8... you are not going to choose nice scriptures that suite your life style. You are all on about New Testament that tithing was not mentioned, yeah right it wasn't because Jesus came to rectify the wrong and leave the right. According to you Heaven should also be split into Old Testament crew and New Testament crew. You act like devil's advocate.....!!!!

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    1. I've read those verses a bunch. If you want to live an Old Testament lifestyle and miss out on New Covenant living, feel free to do so.

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  20. Heavenly Father has promised us that when we pay our tithing, He will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). I am a living testimony of obeying God's word. I give Tithe and I will continue doing so until the end of time.

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    1. If you wish to tithe, that is fantastic. I hope I never persuade you to not tithe. However, if you think God is commanding you to tithe in Malachi, you should not overlook the fact that in the book of Malachi that God commands you to offer all sorts of animal sacrifices. My question to you is why you believe you are required to tithe based off these verses in Malachi, but not offer the other types of sacrifices commanded in Malachi? Such simply doesn't make any sense. Tithing was part of the sacrificial system. It's simply no longer required by God of His people.

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  21. Those that failed to see the results have themselves to blame because God's words is like a double edged sword it even penetrates the spirit. You don't pay tithes like you are paying accounts or some debts God doesn't our want left overs, He doesn't want our money He cannot be bought, He doesn't want our miserable change....All He want is Faith, trust in him and obedience. Tithe given with complaining heart won't bless, Tithe given with the fear of a pastor or to be recognized by pastor won't work. My God is not a liar and I have seen millions getting blessed, I have seen beggars turning into millionaires and top business people, and I have seen sick people that were declared and diagnosed with incurable diseases getting healed by exercising and putting the words into practice. Those that went poor because of tithing must evaluate their lives, their faith. God don't want our money.

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    1. I've seen people who tithe become both rich and poor, most folks who do have lives that end up staying the same. Nothing was wrong with the faith of the poor person, nor was anything exceptional with the faith of the wealthy. Jesus said God causes it to rain on both he righteous and unrighteous alike. Or in other words, the degree of one's physical blessings is no indicator of your level of faith or lack thereof.

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