Apparently, tithing is viewed as the most important component in ensuring that church activities are adequately financed. Generally, Churches are financially sustained through the law of tithing, making it very easy to manage and anticipate income flows. Those keeping their commitment to tithe, make a difference in ensuring the manageability and stability of the church income.
However, tithing itself is a provision of the Old Testament, not necessarily to be taken advantage of, in Christianity. If Christ is the only authority, in church activities, the principle of tithing becomes questionable.
This is not suggesting that tithing is sinful, necessarily. But that it should not be taken as law, according to the Old Testament statues. My view is that congregants should make their own decisions, whether to tithe or not. They should not tithe as an obligation to fulfill the expectations of the Church Pastor.
Jesus instituted an unpopular method of church financing (Matthew 6:1-4). As long as ordinary humans are left to make their own decisions to give, without being cajoled, the levels of church income may possibly go down. This reveals existent deception among Christians.
Christ said that as long as one gives, in order to be seen by others, he/she has received his/her reward. My observation, among churches, is that tithing is not ordinarily treated secretly, per Jesus’ recommendation. In some cases it is actually a determining factor on how positions of authority are allocated in Churches. This makes it even difficult to deal with issues of immorality.
A good tithe payer, may be involved in some unacceptable conducts. But, removing him/her becomes very difficult, when desiring not to sabotage church finances. Also, Church governance falls apart, when positions of authority are determined by considering how generous donors are, within the organization. Positions of authority should not be determined by a pastor or any other person, according to Paul’s Recommendations (1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12:3-11).
Church’s financial needs, may even lead to violation of James 2:1-4:
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say ‘You sit here in a good place’, while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there’, or ‘Sit down at my fee,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?’”
Favorable treatment of a well-dressed person may be due to assuming that the person may potentially be a generous tithe payer. Or that he/she may attract other high profile people to join the organization. This could indeed improve the profile of the Church in the eyes of man, leading to healthier financial inflows.
The evilness lies in that God would not be involved in such circumstances. Jesus says that those giving generously, as to be noticed by others, would have received their rewards. Such rewards could come in the form of respect, or being awarded positions of authority within the church.
The exposure of danger lies in that the pastor would be oblivious of the violation of Jesus’ teachings. He/she may actually promote such type of giving, hoping to encourage others to emulate generous givers. I have often observed some pastors, actually, using the pulpit, praising the generous givers, stating that such giving is inspired by God.
Unfortunately, Christ says such givers have received their rewards. The god that they serve would be different. When Christ says your giving must be in secrete, He removes all traces of comfort, associated with giving. But why would people desire to be appreciated or acknowledged for giving in churches?
The first reason is obviously for desiring recognition. For most people, life is empty, without recognition from others. The intention may also be to cover up criminal conducts in society. You can easily buy the love of people, when generous in giving. Nothing appears wrong with that, except that you have received your reward.
The third reason could be that the person carries ambition of being rewarded with leadership positions. The desire to lead is inherent with natural human beings. Therefore, as a faithful giver, one hopes of chances to be rewarded with positions of authority.
This reveals how deception is found among churches. As centre of authority in Christianity, Christ makes it clear that those behaving like that cannot be in God’s Kingdom. Generous activities should never be for purposes of attracting admiration by other people.
The first century church displayed a different method of financing (Acts 4:32-37). That method also appears as violating what Jesus taught (Matthew 6:1-4). However, the passage shows people committed to give according to the needs of the Church. But, when considering the natural desire for being appreciated, Ananias and Sapphire, fell into the undesirable trap (Acts 5:1-11).
I suppose, without publicity in giving, Ananias and his wife may have not fallen into that danger. Most Christians give, not for any reason, other than being considered as committed Christians, like Ananias and his wife. God may not do what He did to Ananias, but the rewards of the ostentatious givers end with accolades received. Tough luck, if intention is to participate in God’s Kingdom.
Jesus’ method of financing for church activities is that people should give freely, as Paul also admonished:
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7) (ESV).
The advantages are that there would be no likelihood of attracting pretenders, who love ostentation. The church gets manned by dedicated Christians, simply committed to serving God, instead of own interests. If the coffers dry up, due to adopting Jesus’ method of giving, God’s will would have been fulfilled.
However, while some Mega churches, display the unacceptable show-off, type of giving, their few other members, may practice Christ’s teachings. In the same way, unacceptable tares are also found among weak churches, though practicing giving according to Christ’s teachings.
The aim of a true Christian church is not to raise funds, necessarily, but laying programs that advance God’s Kingdom. When meeting God’s will, God inspires genuine givers, not seeking publicity. Christ needs willing hearts and minds only; for those participating in the work of preaching the gospel.
God’s true Church is financed by God Himself. Moreover, the advancement of the gospel may not necessarily be according to the traditionally organized churches, as known today. God’s calling leads true Christians to look to Jesus more than complying with the existing traditions in Christian world.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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