Friday, August 16, 2019
From the tradition-laden Pharisees in Jesus’ day, to Roman Catholicism, to Protestant reformers, the unjust tithe has a long list of begats. Sin begat tradition, which begat desire to control, which begat need for cultural appeasement, which begat half-truths, which begat larger crowds, which begat popularity, which begat larger tithes, which begat more power and control, which begat an ever-burgeoning tithe, which begat the building of man’s denominational empires.
God said to the Church “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have” (Heb. 13:5). But in pandering to cultural relativism, church leaders remain largely discontent. Today, many strive to build their church rather than preparing the Church for the 7-year tribulation. In that quest their church is a for-profit enterprise that’s largely unprepared to endure to the end of this age. But now is the time to prepare according to Christ.
Vast sums are spent on culturally relevant experiments on the guise of “this is God’s will” – for building marvels, sensational lighting, sound and mix-boards, entertainment luxuries, fake smoke and much more, all satellite-ready to be beamed from one city to another. Their sensory stuff is possible only because pastors take in exorbitant tithes. If the Church tithed as God commanded, leaders wouldn’t have excess tithe to play with; cultural-relativism would stop and be replaced by what once was whole truth, faith, hope, love, humility and trust in God’s provision.
And God said “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:6–9).
But many, discontent, engage in covetousness, wanting what bigger churches have or are doing. So, earthly-minded consultants are hired and paid big tithe money for corporate-style counsel to create programs that attract and retain givers so that church can remain sensationally relevant to the culture. But in that progressive endeavor churches have largely become irrelevant to God’s Word, while an end-time destructive lukewarm spirit prevails.
Could this be why so many pastors and worship leaders are actually leaving the Christian faith? See here, here and here. Many are “falling away” (2 Thess. 2:3), literally walking away from the faith they once held dear. And, it’s true, record numbers of pastors are even committing suicide.
It was Christ’s own apostles who were so anti-culture that they were all tortured, brutalized or killed because they dared preach a gospel that’s “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). But today many churches prefer strategic lighting, strobe-shows, disquieting entertainers, huge crowds, and then say “Wasn’t church fun!” as a sensationalized gospel replaces the sobriety of repentant new birth.
A worldly and flesh-entertaining church experience is enabled by the deceptive and unjust tithe, something God never intended. Know God’s righteous tithe truth, read it at Deut. 14:22–29.
The unjust tithe created the apostate wealth and prosperity gospel; which begat the tickling of the ears; which begat huge crowds; which begat huge tithes; which begat huge pastor salaries; which begat the lust for lavish lifestyles; which begat private multi-million dollar jets, limousines and posh walled estates, not to mention high-priced security. Only the few at the top of that money pyramid benefit from that false gospel, while most never attain to such proud worldly wealth.
Time and space prohibit listing the many costly, failed experiments men and women leaders in the church have produced with the unjust tithe: a bankrupt multi-million dollar prayer tower, a bankrupt theme park, a bankrupt glass cathedral now owned by the Vatican; and embezzlement large and small, the unjust tithe is largely squandered, because leaders can! But it’s those who teach, receive and spend the deceptive unjust tithe who’ll be held accountable before God.
I shared this series with you entitled “The Tithe Deception” to alert you to yet another deception in the church. You must know what God says about the tithe for people who God calls “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9–10).
Here’s the take-away from this series: if you’ve been tithing ten percent to your church, know that you can keep and enjoy the next two years of that tithe for yourself and your family “that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deut. 14:23). God wants you, not money. In fact, “you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household” (Deut. 14:26). Do it in obedience to, and with, God!
Then, in the third year, give the tithe to wherever you are spiritually nourished, for “the Levite, [the N.T. equivalent of a pastor] because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands which you do” (Deut. 14:29). The every-third-year tithe is more than sufficient to meet those needs.
God has never asked or suggested that “His own special people” bring the annual tithe to the church. That amount of money for any church, coming under the control of just a few is fertile ground for the proud, self-serving, worldly, and frivolous misuse and abuse of the people’s hard-earned money. Why enable falsehood? Enough is enough.
“What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22 NLT). So, let’s honor God in the biblical tithe. “And try Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10). Next week “The Truth of the Tithe” – be in prayer.
Marlin J. Yoder