|Rev. Adenekan Hezekiah Adesanya||Tuesday, January 17, 2006|
Fort Washington, PA, USA
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ABOUT TITHES AND PRAYER FOR NIGERIA (PART 1)
or sometime now, there's been a lot written and said about tithes, the church and most recently prayer for Nigeria. The central figure is these sometimes volatile exchanges, has been one Samuel Arowolaju? Dr. and after his last outburst, I felt it needful to write this piece to attempt to set some things straight.
The Internet, especially Nigeriaworld, is a common traffic ground for many Nigerians all over the world to get news and information on what's happening and I would think efforts should be made to sanitize information somewhat before it is printed. While the Internet is not any serious medium for such a discourse, it can unfortunately be a medium of dis- and mis-information.
As an author myself on Nigeriaworld many years ago, I sort of know the original authors who for some reason have stopped their contributions, I still miss Rudolph Okonkwo's poetic columns, etc. etc. There are some who profess to be journalists, others seek this medium of freedom of expression and just spit out their vitriol, well how a man speaks and writes speaks volumes about character and outlook in life.
Bayo Arowolaju from his previous columns, has always struck me as an angry person who must push and force his points of views across, no matter what, and I'm concerned about this crew of people who he is always forced to use strong language against; i.e. people who are always cursing him and calling for his death, etc. etc. looks like there seems to be a targeted group of people who he directly addresses and have always respond with angst against him. I have observed his expressed frustrations with a particular church denomination, even to the point of rudeness in addressing their leadership. Bayo Arowolaju, cannot therefore prove that his recent writings, with an almost erudite approach, is nothing but argumentative, targeted and lacks substance, thereby deviating from 2Ti 2:24 '"and the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient" I have seen that in his last write up he addresses himself as a man of God, I will talk about this later. Bayo must also know that the bible says that the anger of man cannot work the righteousness of God (James 1:20). Therefore, the summations of his research, while commendable for at least trying to discover the truth, becomes impractical and not useful in that it boils down to a personal interpretation, not useful to the building up of others and actually dangerous in that it could derail many.
Bayo is actually correct that the New Testament teaches on giving and that cheerfully. However, he darkened counsel by words without knowledge (Job 38:2), by not understanding the central theme and objective of God's perspective on life concerning every area of human and existence, especially on finances. As much as he did a lot of reading and even found titheless churches, he missed the basic point on tithing and giving; and that is; God wants to walk in a financial covenant with the believer. The injunction of tithes or giving to the Lord becomes useless and an exercise in the flesh if the believer does not do this out of a relationship with God.
By the way, the subject of the tithe was 1st mentioned in Genesis 14, when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. Actually we see the beginning of the practice of tithes/offerings in general in Genesis 4: 1-4. I choose to believe that this was the beginning of the age old practice of tithe, offerings, etc. etc. in which man publicly worshipped God. Even though not expressly mentioned, and described in detail the tithe was inferred in that sense, since Abel brought the best and the firstlings of his flock, which really is the whole idea, your tithe is not a mechanistic thing you do because your church requires it, it is a function of what you express to God, so that He may establish His covenant in the earth. (Deut. 8:18). Any believer that misses this point, misses the whole point of relationship with God, which when we walk in obedience to Him, then we walk in His blessings!
I put it to you that a believer who has been walking faithfully with God with his/her finances and not treating God like a lottery will experience the faithfulness of God (Psalm 37:25), this doesn't mean there will not be challenges in life, but the assurance is always there, that God is present and will hear us when we cry. The real lesson here Bayo, is for believers to walk in the level of covenant/commitment to the Lord with our finances, because as He has designed it, funding the gospel will come through believers and not the world system.
About the tithe, it's not just important that we pay or give it whatever view you hold, as much as that there is one to receive it, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who did not condemn the tithe, but shared a better way of giving it (Mat 23:23), that this should not be done to the exclusion of weightier matters of love, mercy, faith and judgment. The Apostle Paul, also summarized it nicely by saying that giving should be with a cheerful heart, it should not be mechanical.
Behind the scenes understanding of the tithe
As a believer in my walk with God, I have leant to ask many questions for my learning, and one thing I do know is that God never asks us to anything without a reason. The issue of the tithe is all about our obedience that we may receive His promises. Bayo alluded that why were some of those who had been giving there tithe still having problems with there finances. My response to this is that this is very mischievous, again argumentative, because it touches the surface only without digging deep, or is this about his friends in Baltimore and other cities who were disgruntled with life and their pastors?
Bayo should have simply told his friends the following;
In fairness to Bayo and his cronies, I have always maintained that any believer that gives money to any local church and is having a problem with finances or the manifestation of the promises of God has a right to go into the pastor and seek counsel. If the local church has no answers for him/her, then s/he needs to find a place that will provide answers. The job of shepherding God's people is more than just collecting their money without providing answers especially in the world we live in today. Put it this way, God's people have a right to demand/expect better returns on their giving. The problem is that as Africans, we are very gullible to the supernatural and there is absolutely nothing wrong in that, I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, but God has chosen that we walk in His blessings and the daily benefit He loads us with daily. As a result of our strong belief in the supernatural, not necessarily in God, we often tend to sit back and not work out things (Phil. 2:12), therefore people tend to play God like lottery, and if it doesn't work out, we blame everybody. I see two problems here:
Haven said that, I believe that there are men of God who are anointed to prosper people economically; it's an anointing, although there are too many fake people, who are not teaching people right and too many unstable people who do not sit to listen to the wisdom of God. When I sow a seed, I do it in obedience, and wait for the wisdom of God for His leadership to lead me to my harvest.
To fully understand the tithe, one has to grasp the issues of economic systems and how vital your dollar is to the system. Here are some truths you should know about:
Therefore if you understand the value of your money and how precious it is to you and you have to give to God, then it should not be done as any careless thing (collection), but more importantly, know how your dollar is helping to keep the vision of the Kingdom of God here on earth in power. The kingdom with the best economic resources will always be on top, it's that simple.
No Kingdom can exist without a stable economic system in place, with revenue generation (basically taxes, etc.) and other ventures to keep it afloat. Vice-versa, the citizens of the kingdom, expect a covenant from their kingdom to them, which is to provide; Opportunity, Equity and Security. Simply put, I can categorically say God provides a better assurance and guarantee in life than any other kingdom on the earth today.
The tithe in the middle of this is one of the most basic units of revenue generation for the kingdom, and it belongs to the Lord and ought to be presented to Him in love, respect, gratitude and expectation that He will be faithful to you.
Some argue why 10%, or 10 fold and why not more or less. Such academic discourse to me is irrelevant, if the people who have not been obedient to the principle first are basically arguing because they basically do not trust God with their finances. I have also found out that people who argue on the tithe, have the following issues:
Let me chip in the story of the widow woman (Mark 12:42), who cast in 2 mites. The Lord had respect to her offering and actually called his disciples to come and see, because this woman was actually challenging God to do something in her life for which if you want to move to the next level, your tithing/giving has to move God, i.e. if you want more than the usual maintenance. The interesting thing about this woman was that she was double tithing! Yes, that is because the mite in the Greek 'Leptra" means "tenth" The fact that a poor widow would bring double to God first, casting in all she has, speaks volumes to all who argue about bills, debts, etc. etc. What you need is sound mature counsel; however, you must trust God. Those who when it comes to giving, use the statement: "I have given my widow's mite" actually are very insultive of the bravery and faith of this widow to trust God with all of her substance. You can also challenge God to do something for you; He said prove me now ------ Mal 3:10. I encourage people to prove God, because He has issue or problem with defending His word. I can confidently say that He is my Jehovah Jireh, because I have proven Him again and again, hallelujah!!
My advice has always been; start by being consistent with your tithing to the Lord. Bible says "taste and see that the Lord is good" If you're attending a good bible believing Church that you agree with the tenets of faith and vision, then you should communicate back to the church your tithes and offerings. Similarly if you have issues with the church or pastor, then you should able to find matured counsel on how to resolve issues, don't go through life angry, bitter and depressed. My counsel is that if going to your local house is a burden for you and you have tried to speak with others, including the pastor, find yourself a house where you can be fed, grow and become who God has called you to be. Pastors should spend more time building up their people, rather concentrating too much on bigger and better.
I heard of a young man in the Northwest USA, who challenged his minister Dad on why he should be tithing to the church, when there are poor people outside who no one is taking care of. His senior pastor Dad authoritatively declared "the tithe belongs to me first" The young man stopped tithing, and was doing his own thing. The Pastor Dad fired him shortly and he was forced to leave the church. In both instance, both are wrong. In the case of the young man, failing to understand, that there is order in God's house, and any organization that does not have an organized way of doing things, cannot survive. The pastor Dad/church was also wrong, people of God have a right to ask questions, I'm not encouraging rebellion, but at the same time, we should not be raising drones either. I have a problem with ministers who are too snotty nosed, high up there, who get offended that their people ask questions. This is a missed opportunity where the young man, needed to understand better about the tithe, and for the church to improve the benevolent functions.
I don't know about you, but my tithe is precious to me, I do not relate to Father God in fear, I trust Him totally and I can say that when my money is in His hand, then the devourer is rebuked for my sake, the only guarantee I have in this world now is the surety of His promise. I understand that my money is important to the Lord, therefore, as a committed sold out person, I will give and I will expect based on His word because I'm committed to the Kingdom. This is what I teach and have led by example in over 18 years of ministry across several nations on the earth
Finally, the church owes the people of God more than just "bring your tithe' into the church, people should be properly taught and the pastor of the church must know how to give financial counsel to his/her people and plan programs that help their overall well being. I think there's too much junk and fast food, claim it now Christianity out there. People need to be taught the values of consistency, patience, faith, trust, managing money and debt, investments, health, family life and more importantly wisdom for daily living. It is important for pastors and church leaders to be successful in life themselves and have proof of results in their lives, to show that what they are teaching people already works in their lives. This is a more powerful message than the theoretical, rhetorical and oft hand me down messages often bandied across.
People who have issues with the tithe or giving in obedience to the Lord should keep their monies, point is, if there is no benefit, then keep your money to yourself and put it into something that you feel you can benefit from, but such should not expect the real blessings that come from obedience to God to flow in their lives. Should we then curse such people, I don't believe that's right and have never practiced this in 18 years of active ministry, God place me here to remove curses form His people and not to add to it because of money. I have always believed God first for my needs and that of the ministry, not dependent on how people give or not, but we should rather pray for them and be patient until they change, however church resources also should not be wasted on such folks-it's that simple, don't expect to reap if you have not sown. Maybe Bayo can direct them to titheless churches.
Please understand that when you walk in God's laws of financial principles, then expect the manifestations of His blessings. If nothing happens then you need to check things out, go to the pastor or better still to God directly, for there should be no reason if you walk in obedience that you should not be blessed, maybe you need counsel on managing money as we all need on a regular basis.
Stay tuned for Part II-----------
Dr. Adenekan Hezekiah Adesanya is Senior Pastor of Reconciliation Ministries World Outreach in Fort Washington, PA in the suburbs of Philadelphia. You can visit the ministry website @ www.remwo.org