FEATURE ARTICLE

Sam AwedaThursday, November 23, 2017
[email protected]
Lagos, Nigeria

WHY CERTAIN DENOMINATIONS & PREACHERS EMPHASIZE & ENCOURAGE TITHING
(Chapter 6 of Pastor Sam Aweda's book "Worshipping God with Our Substance)

t is quite obvious that those denominations and preachers who use Malachi 3:8-10 to argue in favour of tithing under the New Covenant, do not fully grasp the genesis of the institution of tithing and the numerous offerings which were demanded under the Old Covenant.

This ignorance leads to their misinterpretation of Malachi 3:8-10. The same ignorance is the reason why they have placed 'tithing' and over-emphasize it above 'offerings'.

These preachers argue that tithing is mandatory (compulsory) and primary while offering is voluntary (free will). This is total ignorance of the part of the Scripture that institutionalized offerings and tithes.

Under the institution, both were equal and mandatory and there was not one that was more important or more obligatory than the other. They explain 'offering' as donations other than tithes payed in to the Church or fellowship or money put inside the plates, which are usually passed round during Church services. While there is nothing wrong in this practice and it is part of offering in the larger context, it must be cleared that this is not the offering, which Malachi meant.

The offerings, which Malachi was talking about, were the offerings of animals brought by the people to the Priests to atone for their sins (intentional and unintentional), those for ceremonial uncleanliness, which was hoped to make them clean again, in the form of burnt, grain, sin, guilt and peace offerings and all the various daily, weekly, monthly and annual sacrifices and feasts (festivals) (Ex.28;29; Numb. 3;4;18).

The meat of those animal sacrifices among other offerings were used to maintain the Priests (Aaron and his descendants), while tithes were used to maintain the assistant priests (other Levites). The reader is referred to pages 15-17 of chapter 1.

It was when the people reneged on these that the Prophet (Malachi) had to remind them of these obligations to their fellow Israelites (Levites) who inherited no properties but were to live of the Temple things. This is what the prophet meant when he said: "that there may be meat in mine house " (3:10). The prophet also reminded them of the curse (vs 9) placed on any defaulter.

With the coming of Christ who made Himself a one time perfect offering for our sins, whether intentional or unintentional and became our High Priest, the institution of the Levitical Priesthood was dismantled. Thus offerings and tithes that supported it became irrelevant. So, offering today should mean more than money put in to the Church plates or any donations. Our own contribution in the process of Christ being our perfect offering is what Paul wrote to the Romans in 12:1 which says: "I beseech you therefore, brethen, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service".

So, the offering which Malachi called for in the Old Testament, Jesus paid it with His life afterwards and should not be misinterpreted as donations or money put into the offertory plates. It is lack of the understanding of the Scripture that makes certain Churches or preachers today, while they Scripturally dealt away with the Levitical offerings to still retain and demand for tithes.

Of course, the payment of tithes by Abraham predates the Law, but as earlier indicated, it was his free will. No one mandated him. What he did was in harmony with the New Testament teaching:- "As purposed". When Jacob also did, it was "As purposed" (Gen.28:20-22). And it was a one time event on each occasion. We did not read that either of them made it a recurrent event. It will therefore be unscriptural to use these cases to establish payment of tithes in the New Covenant. Everyone should purpose in his mind what he should give to God in the New Dispensation.

Hosea prophecied: "My people perish because they lack Knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).

The utterances of many preachers today on a number of issues betray their ignorance of the total understanding of the essence of Christ. The ignorance centres mainly in their inability to see the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation as a single story, which is the story of Jesus Christ. Their ignorance also centres on their inability to reconcile the old agreement with the new. The Old Covenant looks towards the coming of Christ and prepares the ground to that effect.

I was born by Baptist parents and I grew up and lived most of my Christian life as a Baptist, which tenaciously imbibe the ordinance of tithing (i.e. The Nigerian Baptist denomination). As a child, my mother encouraged me to instantly set aside a tenth of every gift I received and from proceeds of every menial, petty job I did. I did this as faithfully as I could (arithmetic/calculator giver) until 1975 when I started to publish and distribute tracts freely when a tenth of my income could no longer sustain my evangelical vision and my wife and I started to budget for evangelism as we did for our food, housing and other essential family needs. But I still taught tithe and I sincerely believed in it.

Perhaps if one brother had opened up to me and not talked sarcastically, I could have seen the inferiority of 'tithes' to 'giving' much earlier. This brother saw on my study table, some notes about Tithing, which I was going to teach that week. This was in 1976 and he said: "So you are still teaching people, the old legality of what to give to God". I made no comment and he too did not say anything further. Albeit, I kept it in my mind and years later after my eyes became opened to the total truth of the essence of Christ, then I realized what this brother probably must have meant in 1976.

A number of denominations/preachers, teach many things today that look as making the coming and death of Christ meaningless (of no effect) - frustrating the grace of God (Gal 2:21).

"Christ has made us free"; Paul wrote in Galatians Chapter 5. "Now make sure that you stay free and don't get all tied up again in the chains of slavery to Jewish Laws and ceremonies. Listen to me, for this is serious: If you are counting on circumcision and other Jewish Laws (tithing inclusive) to make you right with God, then Christ cannot save you. I'll say it again, anyone trying to find favour with God by being circumcised (or by obedience of tithes) must always obey every other Jewish Laws or perish" (Gal.5:1-6).

Such a person must read the books of the law properly and start to obey the rules about permitted and non-permitted food, perform the several annual feasts/festivals, perform the daily, weekly and yearly sacrifices (shedding of blood). The Temple must be restructured and partitioned into the inner and outer sanctuary and institute again the Levitical priesthood so that Offerings (Burnt, Grain, Peace, Sin, Guilt etc) and tithes can become relevant again.

Other Christians who have been alerted with the teaching of 'giving' as it is taught under the Grace/Faith system as opposed to tithing of the 'law system' still have a problem accepting it because of the human nature, which naturally opposes changes from what it has been used to. Resistance to changes from old accustomed practice.

I have heard some Christians argue that, if you teach people to give freely without tying it to something like tithes, which specifies a certain percentage of one's earnings, that many people will not pay anything into the Church's coffer and the work will suffer. They argue that it is useless teaching people who find it difficult to part with only a tenth of their earnings, something otherwise.

I hold a contrary view to this line of thought. Preachers should restrain themselves from teaching anything because of some gains, which they hope to derive either to themselves or to the Church, but which could be to the detriment of a true, balanced teaching and blessings of the congregation. The congregation must be taught exactly what is found in the Scripture without any amendments. In fact, my belief is that, if we afford the congregation the true, balanced knowledge and the blessings in giving, the congregation will give generously and the Church herself will have a surplus budget.

I myself had been ignorant in the past. I was ordained an elder of a certain Church in the early eighties. This denomination neither taught nor practised tithing. We got to the Elders' Council meeting one saturday night and the Pastor alerted us of the poor financial situation of the Church and asked for our suggestions of how to raise fund for the needs of the Church. Being brought up in the Baptist denomination which takes tithing seriously, I did not hesitate to suggest the idea of tithing. All the council members approved it and that was how tithing got introduced into that Church and spread to other Churches of that particular denomination. I regret it now but that was what I knew then.

I must re-emphasize that it is within the constitutional right of any group, fellowship, Church or denomination if they come to a consensus of what percentage of their earnings, which each member should pay weekly or monthly. For instance, they may agree that each member should give 10% or 20% etc of his/her earnings. It will be in order, I think.

Also, any individual on his own can decide to imitate Father Abraham by giving to God a tenth of his earnings. He has the liberty but such a person must not use his practice as a yardstick for others or insist that others must do the same because that will be unscriptural.

Also no Preacher should portray tithes as if it is what is required of us under the New System.

If God does no longer stipulate how much we should give Him but gives us a free will to decide what we want to, which in turn will determine our reward (and the reward, not necessarily to be on earth but stored in heaven), then no preacher, however famous he may be, has any right to decide the blessings of the members of the congregation. Every Christian must be the architect of his own fortune.

Whatever percentage of any one's earning, which he gives to God cheerfully will attract a commensurate reward, with no curse, unlike under the law system where if a mistake was made in arriving at a tenth, he had no reward. And not only that, he brought a curse of God on himself.

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