Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who is ROBBING God?

I was talking with a friend the other day and had commented that I no longer saw tithing as a requirement for Christians. Whereas, caring for the poor should still be a very high priority. My friend was quick to respond with a story that gave an example of how distorted tithe teaching has become.

An immigrant to Canada was living on a very meager monthly stipend. $300 was the number quoted. She went to a church looking for help and was told that if she tithed the Lord would provide for her. If not, she was robbing God and that is why she was in such financial difficulties.

The thinking from this group of deceived Christians was that there is no such thing as a poor person who could use some help. I guess they felt that tithing is meant to look after a pastor and a church building. The fact that she was a poor immigrant did not soften their hearts or open their wallets.

The most quoted passage they use to prove this is in Malachi 3,
8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Strange that God felt He was being robbed when the tithe was not used the way He designed it. We just have to back up to verse 5 to see His intent for justice concerning care for others.

"So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi 3:5

This verse is rarely quoted by tithe teachers. And yet it explicitly states that the way to rob God was to not give it or not use it for the care of the poor.

In other words most churches that teach tithing are really ROBBING God because they don’t use the tithe to care for the poor.

Preachers are notorious for spiritualizing this and other passages to make the storehouse the local church and the food they give to people, a sermon. It certainly makes them a salary and clears their conscience regarding the real needs of others. Meanwhile, the local poor are told to care for these strong pastors while orphans around the world are malnourished and some even die.

These days, the lion’s share of tithes and offerings (some don’t believe in tithes) goes to supporting the strong and tearing down old buildings and building bigger, fancier ones. Always, at the expense of caring for those in need.

The Parable of the Rich Fool
Luke 12: 13-21
A modern day paraphrase.

13Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

14Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; My Church does not consist of the size of its buildings or the popularity of a local pastor."

16And he told them this parable: "The preaching of a certain pastor produced a great number of followers. 17He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place for my people to listen to me.'

18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will have my people listen to my great oratory and interpreting skills. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of people to serve your vision. Take life easy; enjoy the praises of men.”

20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

21"This is how it will be with anyone who thinks many followers is the way of the cross but is not rich toward God by giving to the poor."

How does Jesus define righteousness?

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Matthew 25:34-40

2 comments:

Lori said...

Great post!

David Grant said...

Hi Lori,
thought I might have scared you away with my views that are generally from a slightly different perspective.