| The Dark Side of Tithing Testimonies|
I thought I would share this aritcle I recently wrote.
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.
| 2014/4/8 10:10||Profile|
| Re: The Dark Side of Tithing Testimonies|
Good article Jimmy,
It touches on so many of the abuses of churches, especially word of faith churches and those of the prosperity persuasion. In my own experience over 25 years, so many people I knew tithed from fear. They were taught that if they did not tithe they were robbing God and if they robbed God then they would more than likely face poverty. If they wanted to succeed then first and foremost, before anything else, they must pay the tithe. When you go to the many countries of Africa, you can see the extreme results of this teaching. So many of the poor Africans have merely replaced one witch doctor for another. They remain in their fear and they are taught that they have to appease this new God if they want to be healthy and wealthy and overcome the " demons of poverty."
To me the NT is pretty clear. Give out of your abundance with a cheerful heart, or do not give at all. God does not need your money neither does He need grudging and grumbling followers. Ours is a walk of freedom, freedom to follow the Lord in whatever way He leads us and of course He will never lead us in any way that would violate His word. He who the Son set free is free indeed.
It does not honor God when we do not pay our debts. It does not honor God when we cannot feed our children because we sent checks to some tele-evangelist who promised we would get 10 time or 100 times return. Quite the opposite in fact. Now people can genuinely fall on hard times , lose their jobs and lose their houses, this is not dishonoring , it can often just be life and circumstances..............bro Frank
| 2014/4/8 11:05|
| Re: The Dark Side of Tithing Testimonies|
Honest article, Jimmy.
In the church, just like anywhere else, if you say something enough times, promise enough riches and fortune, and get enough people behind it you're going to have people who eventually buy into it. But they can only bank off the get-rich stories of others, hoping if they are obedient long enough and give cheerfully they too can cash in on God's lottery. They are taught that doubt is tantamount to disobedience; and what's more, it is a requirement to give to the lottery commission under fear of a curse. Since most Christians do not truly understand the New Covenant, they are whisked away with the "tithe requirement" before they can investigate the matter themselves. They become prisoners of denominationalism group-think and are at once put to make bricks under Pharaoh's ten-percent taskmasters. They are then told this quota must never fall (even when the straw becomes sparse) or else God will allow the whip of the devourer to lash their backs.
My in-laws are big Pentecostal tithers. They are forever in debt, borrowing money till payday, and then when they default on the loan the creditors call my house (because they listed me and my wife as reference). I shudder to think they have to give the taskmaster his 10% cut after each loan and then spend the rest of the year trying to pay it back with high interest. They will not admit that tithing does not work though they have been in this sad financial cycle for over 13 years. I know other families (Southern Baptists) who have faithfully tithed for 35 years but still live from paycheck to paycheck and do not have ample savings to retire.
I once asked why this was to him (my co-worker), and he thought a moment and shrugged. "I've always been taught that tithing is just what you do. God requires His ten percent." And left it at that.
Paul Frederick West
| 2014/4/8 11:13||Profile|
| Re: |
It does not honor God when we do not pay our debts. It does not honor God when we cannot feed our children because we sent checks to some tele-evangelist who promised we would get 10 time or 100 times return. Quite the opposite in fact. Now people can genuinely fall on hard times , lose their jobs and lose their houses, this is not dishonoring , it can often just be life and circumstances..............
Exactly. I remember the first time going through somebody's bank statements at work, and stumbling across a donation to Benny Hinn Ministries. My heart just sank and broke all over the place.
| 2014/4/8 11:17||Profile|
| Re: |
It is almost terifying the degree which pastors bully the sheep into tithing these days. Now I understand, many of them have a gun to their own heads too. If they don't tithe, denominational officials (especially in Pentecostal churches), will remove you from ministry. And being that they don't have any other marektable job skill, some will truly tithe until it hurts. They know if they don't, their family will be out on the streets.
Being in the business that I am at the bank, I have attempted to make several itemized budgets for the average family of 4 to survive off, pay all their bills, and still make a 10% gross tithe payment. It has been my honest assesment that in America, the average family of 4 cannot afford to tithe if they make less than $50,000 gross a year, and still pay all their bills
Of course, there are exceptions to this. But if the average family of 4 does manage to do this, they definitely will not be able to save much of anything on a monthly basis. They will live paycheck to paycheck. They will retire broke. If it were not for any hope of Social Security and other government entitlements, they would be left destitute once their ability to work expired.
The math simply does not work for most people. Most people truly cannot afford to tithe, in spite of people telling them they cannot afford to not tithe.
I've seen it. It is heart breaking. The prosperity gospel is robbing many saints.
| 2014/4/8 11:23||Profile|
| Re: The Dark Side of Tithing Testimonies|
When does the Sermon on the Mount come into effect regarding finances? Is it only for the missionary? When does the exhortation to help feed and clothe the destitute brethren happen? How about the statement of Peter that having food and clothing, it is enough?
| 2014/4/8 11:33||Profile|
| Re: |
If the church wished to be really radical, it would give directly to the poor, or non profit organizations that specialized in helping the poor. But most of our money is spent on overhead and things that don't really matter. My church last year gave 12% of it's offerings back to people in the community. Such is rather high for most churches. But, we stil have the rest of the money being spent on things in house.
| 2014/4/8 11:37||Profile|
| Re: The Dark Side of Tithing Testimonies|
Right out of the box, I am going to say this: I do not agree with the doctrine of tithing 10% of your income to the church. Why, because it isn't 10% of just your financial income. It is also 10% of your crops, and every 3 years that 10% is supposed to go help the poor of the land and the levite. If those who preach tithing really did get it from scripture, there would definitely be a lot more to it than just shaving 10% off the top of your paycheck (gross or net).
I also believe that the old testament law is fulfilled in Christ, and since we no longer have levites nor a temple, then what would our tithe, biblically be connected with.
Also, I am not so sure that failure stories is valid justification for the rejection of this doctrine. People who are generous with what they have (like the Bible says to be) yet do not operate their finances like the bible says to, cannot expect biblical results. Point in case: If I give half of what I make to my poorer bretheren, but rack up enough debt to be enslaved for a lifetime, then I may have fulfilled what God has said in one area, but I have absolutely rejected what He said in another. Can I expect anything but discipline from the Lord for this? I think not.
I do believe that we are called to a different kind of stewardship. Nothing belongs to me, because I am a slave to Christ. He owns all my stuff, and as His slave, everything I have should be used for His name and His glory--for the advancement of His kingdom. Anything that cannot be used for that end should be tossed out.
| 2014/4/8 11:38||Profile|
| Re: |
1Sa 8:18 AND YE SHALL CRY OUT IN THAT DAY BECAUSE OF YOUR KING WHICH YE SHALL HAVE CHOSEN YOU; AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY
AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY!!!
Hmmmm...let's see what is being talked about here.
God speaking to Samuel. The Israelites wanted a King and God was telling Samuel to tell the Israelites what they were going to get.
1Sa 8:9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
1Sa 8:10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
1Sa 8:11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
1Sa 8:12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
1Sa 8:13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
1Sa 8:14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
1Sa 8:15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
1Sa 8:16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
1Sa 8:17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
1Sa 8:18 AND YE SHALL CRY OUT IN THAT DAY BECAUSE OF YOUR KING WHICH YE SHALL HAVE CHOSEN YOU; AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY.
1Sa 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
1Sa 8:20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles
Has anything changed since Samuel's day?
| 2014/4/8 12:37|
| Re: |
I am just making sure I understand the intent behind your post. Are you liking our modern day preachers to the kings of Israel?
| 2014/4/8 12:47||Profile|