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Money Matters – even to Christians! – Part 2 February 16, 2010

Posted by Henry in Money & Finance.
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6 comments

In part 1 of this series I highlighted some of the financial concerns that are no doubt affecting some Christians in the world today. I put forward a “thesis” that some of these problems faced by individuals and their families may be alleviated if we the church would return to an attitude of being our brother’s keeper as this is the example shown to us in scripture. Unfortunately however the world we live in today is largely characterised by a disaffection brought about by materialism and consumerist capitalism, a state in which it is largely, “dog eat dog”, and “every man for himself”. This type of mentality has also infected the church with a false ideal of each man to pursue his own “blessings”. With this in mind therefore the following treatise will attempt to look at what individuals might do to help “ease” their financial plight.

 1 Taking Care of Your Own

Each of us has a responsibility to take care of our own families in spite of the fact that assistance should be given if a brother is in need and unable to sustain himself. However, scripture says in 1 Tim 5:8 (NIV):

 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.

 The man (or woman) of the house therefore is responsible for going out and getting a job (even two jobs if necessary) so he can earn enough money to supply the needs of his immediate family and even his extended family. This does not mean however that we should pursue the world as the Gentiles do but as we have seen from Paul’s example in Acts 20:33-35, he worked to support himself so that he does not become a burden to others. Perhaps many able pastors should “take a leaf out of Paul’s book” here instead of relying on the church but that is an aside. Earning money will require prudence also in managing it because scripture doth say that a fool and his money will soon depart. Imagine a man who spends his weekly pay packet on drinking and socialising with friends or going gambling instead of using it judiciously to provide for his family. This is not being wise or prudent and in so doing such a man is regarded as worse than an unbeliever.

 2 To tithe or not to tithe: Church Giving

 Many will have heard the phrase that we have to be “responsible stewards” for what the Lord has given us and it is suggested that an example of responsible stewardship is to “tithe faithfully”, especially to the church. Tithing faithfully usually means giving 10% of your gross weekly or monthly earnings to the church as this is set as the standard. Some ministers will even go as far to say that when you take care of the “Lords house” then He will take care of your own. The dilemma faced by many people who are struggling financially however is whether they can or should continue to “tithe faithfully” to the church or whether they should reduce their “tithe”. Many are therefore in bondage to their conscience as they struggle with this issue and this is heightened by the guilt and fear they feel as a result of the threat of curses for “robbing God” based on Mal 3.

 For those of you who have been tithing faithfully for years however, let me ask you this, have you received the promised “windows of heaven blessings”? I already know the answer to that question because if you had you would not be still struggling today. Let me assure you that you will never receive the “windows of heaven blessings” of Mal 3 because this promise is not for you. This promise was made under a covenant to the Israelites, at a particular place and at a particular time. That covenant has never been transferred over to the church as Jesus abolished it when He fulfilled the Law and gave us a new covenant. To claim something for yourself that wasn’t given to you therefore is futile. The tithe is not for the New Testament believer and the curse mentioned in Mal 3 is the said curse of the Law which Jesus redeemed us from (see my post on the tithe here). Why then do you put a yoke on your neck to try and practise a Law that Jesus abolished? Eat your tithes or use it to take care of your family if you are struggling and give what you are able to give to the church. Did he really say to eat the tithe but..? Yes I did! Read Deut 14:23-26, it says so right there. I would like to see people being freed from this bondage of conscience concerning the tithe especially if they are struggling financially, and be giving more “freely” according to what they purpose in their hearts (2 Cor 9:7).

 3 Being wary of Covetousness

In the book of 1 John 2:15 we read:

 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

 It is strange to think however that in spite of this warning from scripture, church people today are buying into this same lust of the world and the pride of life and as a result many people find themselves in financial troubles. We want to get things which we see advertised on TV or things that we see our neighbours have instead of trying to live within our means. Many people are unable to resist the temptation to purchase something being advertise especially when it is offering a zero percent finance, “buy now, pay later” deal. The truth however is that it is never zero percent finance as you will pay the interest when you start to repay the loan amount later. This can therefore impact on one’s finance and contribute to mounting debts as the interest accumulates and this is all because of covetousness. We could save ourselves a lot of trouble by using our money sensibly to buy what we need and looking for cheaper alternatives where possible, rather than to use debt to accumulate a bunch of stuff that we don’t need, just because we are trying to “look good” and impress others.

 4 Avoid the “get rich quick” schemes

Today there are so many get rich quick schemes (or scams) in the world and there are tonnes of books, some even written by pastors, on how to create or maximise wealth. Some of these schemes are even being marketed in church and many people have suffered financial loss as a result of investing in these schemes, as many of them do not work. Scripture tells us in Proverb 23:4-5 however that we should not labour to be rich:

4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. 5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Herein lies sound wisdom concerning the pursuit of riches. Scripture also warns us in 1 Peter 2 about being made merchandise of by those with feigned words. The problem with this world however is that it has become so engulfed in materialism that even Christians are not immune from it. We live in a world in which success is defined by how high we can climbed and how much things we can accumulate and that if we have fallen short of the mark we are a failure. It is natural therefore to gravitate towards a scheme that promises untold riches. Jesus pointed out however in Luke 12:15 that a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things he possesses. The scripture also tells us in 1 Tim 6:5-8 to be content with what we have instead of trying to pursue wealth.

 The list I have outlined above is not an exhaustive one but I believe that they can act as a useful starting point of what a believer’s attitude towards earning and handling money should be.

No "Should" in Tithing September 18, 2009

Posted by Henry in Tithing.
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In a discussion about tithing a young woman once said to me that I “should” pay my tithes. That basically was her final word on the matter. But is the tithe something that I or the church should observe? It is interesting however to see how close-minded some church people can be on the subject of tithing. They refuse to apply any rational thought to proper application of scripture but instead take it as a given that if one is a Christian and a churchgoer one should pay their tithes. For them the question doesn’t even merit discussion as the attitude generally is “this is what we believe in and this is what we do at our church”.

If however, we say that someone “should” pay their tithes then effectively what we are saying is that we are obliged by some law to pay a tithe. From a Biblical point of view however are we under a legal or other obligation to tithe? We should remember of course that we are no longer under the Law but under Grace because Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the Law. This is not to say however that since we are under Grace we can do what we like. Of course not! But does scripture support the view that the New Testament church should pay a tithe and are obligated to do so. Under the Old Testament which we sometimes refer to as the Law Israel was obligated under the Law to pay tithes but surely this Law does not apply to us today, or does it or perhaps you don’t really know? The Law that governed the tithe was part and parcel of the very same Law that Jesus has redeemed us from. But you ask, “What about Malachi 3:9-11?”

Many a minister has wrongly used this passage to convict their members to pay the tithe, suggesting that they are “robbing God” if they don’t and that they are cursed as a result. But clearly a close look at the passage will tell us who this passage was speaking to and it was not the New Testament Christians but the nation of Israel. Only the Levite priests of the nation of Israel had a commandment to take a tithe of their brethren (see Heb 7:5). The curse mentioned in Malachi 3 referred to the curse of the Law and not specifically to the issue of not paying the tithe. Some will argue however that the tithe was before the Law since Abraham tithe to Melchisedec in Gen 14. But on close examination of what occurred we can clearly see that this is no basis for establishing a tithe teaching in the church. What then is the motivation of pastors and church leaders to demand a tithe? Again others will ask if we shouldn’t tithe then what should we do? We should bear in mind that tithing is not supported anywhere in the New Testament. Paul’s instructions on giving to the work of the ministry were thus:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7

Clearly we all have freedom in Christ to give according to how we feel led. Do you therefore still think that you are obligated to tithe, and on what Biblical basis do you make such a conclusion?