I was in downtown Dallas by the restaurant / bank / hotel area preaching, witnessing, and handing out new short tracts I’d just written up –and wearing my signs… “Honk, honk!” A guy at the red light rolled his car window down and said, “Come here. Come here.” Not really wanting to go into the middle of the street, I just waved. He yelled, “I want to give you a donation.” I called back that I don’t take donations but that I wished him a blessing for wanting to give to me.
I tell this experience because later it made me cry a little as I was thinking of him and the numerous others who try to give me money. Where are these dear people “coming from”? It is a sad fact: They have heard that ministers of the gospel want money –that’s what. I often get incredulous looks when I won’t take money; or when people hear that I’m not evangelizing for any church. “Not promoting a church?! Then why are you doing this?”
“Ummm…. the love of Christ compels me…” But I often don’t even say that, because most truly do not believe it could be that.
It’s just so sad…
Some people embarrass me or even get mad at me, insisting that I just “robbed them of a blessing.” We should at all times try to avoid being “a stumbling block” (Rom. 14:20,21) to another believer, so sometimes I’ve said, “Oh, see that man over there rummaging through the trash barrel? Give it to him –and you will not lose your reward.” Or, “Here is my friend, _______. She is out of work right now and has 4 children she’s raising. Could you give it to her instead?” Or, “Look, there’s a person sweeping these sidewalks for us and I bet he doesn’t get much pay. Why don’t you give it to him?” It’s amazing how this pacifies the wannabe giver and he does go over and does proceed to give to the hungry or poor person.” (In fact, to watch these encounters are usually quite fun and endearing.)
But, I ask, why are people often so fervent about giving to someone promoting the gospel and not to their fellow man –who has a blatant, obvious need? Like –missing teeth? –Like filthy clothes? –Like shoes with holes at the toe showing toenails that look so in need of a pedicure that they appear leprous? Yea, like– why?
I believe because the church is teaching and promoting a “give to get” doctrine, and this doctrine says it’s got to be a direct “give to God (or His church work) in order to access the blessing from Him.” So the motive of the giver is not “cheerful generosity, without compulsion” as 2 Cor. 9:7 commands, but instead one of fear and greed from the beginning. And the teacher is even worse, as he only encourages the greed motive by frightening his congregation with “curses for those robbing God” using Mal. 3:9. Or for his own personal gain and his own “kingdom” advancement, he simply “peddles the Word of God for profit.” (2 Cor. 2:17) However, are we not to “promote justice, mercy, and our own humility before God” (see Micah 6:8 & Matt. 23:23), and “help the poor, the weak, the widow, and the fatherless”? (Gal. 2:10 / Acts 20:35 / James 1:27) Yes, we are; and this “tithe to the church” doctrine is not only hindering true generosity… –it is heresy.
First of all, we are no longer under ANY Old Testament law, rule, ordinance, or regulation. The Old has been completely done away with. It happened at the cross. “God… canceled the written code… nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14) And if we “have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20), then “by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom. 7:6) This includes “The Ten Commandments”. For “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant –not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone…” (2 Cor. 3:6,7) …”letters on stone…” …”… … …”
Okay. So what was done away with was ALL the law –including the ten commandments engraved on stone. For as Gal. 3:24,25 say, “The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” Are we under the supervision of a church –or a pastor? No. We are under the supervision of the Holy Spirit now (see Rom. 8:9,14 & John 16:13 & 1 John 2:27), and “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” (Gal. 5:18)
But what I’m zeroing in on today, is this tithe law. It is a sin to teach that people must tithe 10% to the church. Because then the teacher (or preacher) is commanding people to come back under law, and we know that to do that causes one to be an example of Gal. 5:4 –“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” To cause another to “fall away from grace” –to be “alienated from Christ”– is no light sin. Remember that circumcision was the main law, the main symbol, of the Jews being separated unto God –distinct from all other nations; yet the New Covenant is packed with statements about this symbol being “of no value” (Gal. 5:6) –“weak and useless.” (Heb. 7:18) In fact, Gal. 5:2,3 say, “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised [be under law], Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised [be under law] that he is obligated to obey the whole law.” And James 2:10 tells us, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking ALL of it.”
It is a sad situation to see pulpit men shaming and intimidating parishioners into giving them their income’s 10% to do with what those in church control deem best. Why cannot “born from above” people choose for themselves where, how, and how much to give for the furtherance of the gospel, righteousness, and compassion? And if they are barely scraping by, why are they having to give anything?! The “pastor” is supposed to be an under-shepherd –under the Chief Shepherd (Christ) and is to be a servant. (See 1 Peter 5:2-4 & Matt. 20:25-28.) He is not to take money from anyone, especially the poor, and build his little (or huge) kingdom –his glittery church building, mansion home, fancy car, expensive suits and rings… or even his plush pews and church carpet– off of other families’ hard earned money.
I have seen way too often, as I’m sure most of you have, a struggling family whom no one has any extra money to help, because the money is already tied up in pledges to their church to pacify the “head CEO / hired shepherd’s” ego. Yet James 2:15-20 says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? …[For] faith without deeds is useless.” And 1 Tim. 5:8 says, “If anyone does not provide for his relative, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” “Worse”?! Wow! Strong language! And Jesus Himself rebukes those who “nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition… [saying] to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God.'” (Matt. 15:6,5) …Sounds so pious, huh? …But it’s evil.
And how about the missionaries who devote their lives to living and serving overseas..? Why do so many of them struggle in poverty? Why? –Because gullible people who don’t know their Bibles are being fleeced by con-men in the pulpits. And the money is going elsewhere. Places it shouldn’t. I’m not saying all of these pulpit men even realize they are in the wrong. Many of them have bought into the false doctrine for so long. But still, they can read God’s Word, and claiming ignorance won’t benefit them when they stand before God on that final Day.
Well, I could give many Scripture references on this subject, but suffice it to say, that we are not under any law, including this very prized, shielded, and promoted “doctrine of the tithe”. Our doctrine is love (Rom. 13:10) and that love who is actually a Person (see 1 John 4:8,16), will counsel us on who, what, and where not to give, and who, what, and where we should give… and HIS way is the fulfilling, exciting, righteous, and FREE way.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… –those weak and miserable principles…” (Gal. 5:1 & 4:9 & see Col. 2:16-23) Study God’s Word for yourselves and don’t let false teachers steal your freedom that Christ died for. As Jesus says in John 8:31,32, “If you hold to MY teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free… [and] whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
ALL of the TRUE Gospel is such GREAT NEWS! ! ! ! ! !
Let’s share it with everyone we can! For the love of Christ really is a mighty, compelling force!