Discordant tunes over tithing in Christendom
Tithing in Christendom is Biblical and spiritual. From the inception of Christianity, tithing is an obligation every genuine Christian is expected to abide by. Before now, many Christians complied with tithing injunction without asking questions. This is despite the fact that it was not usually much pronounced in church activities.
In recent years, many Christians seem to have questioned tithing and it’s uses in the churches. This development is not unconnected with certain actions and inactions of clergymen and church leaders in handling church funds, which did not go down well some church members. Apart from the clergymen’s too much emphasis on tithing which has become suspicious, their flamboyant life style is disturbing and ungodly.
In churches today, Tithing has become the major topic for men of God in Christian teachings. So shocking is the fact that in some church bulletins, you see something like if it is tight for you, check your tithe well. One wonders, where in Bible was it written that failure to pay your tithe will make things difficult for you.
While the men of God and church leaders have continued to urge the Christian faithful to pay their tithes, faithful have challenged them to be responsible and accountable to them on the management of the tithe and other church funds.
* It Is A Unit Of What You Are That God Has Gotten Hold Of
* It Is A Way Of Milking Innocent And Gullible Nigerians Dry
* It Is Ideal To Honour God On The Same Altar We Are Constantly Nourished Spiritually
Giving to man, many have said, is a natural principle of life, which has manifold blessings, let alone, giving to God in offering, tithes or sacrifice.
Speaking to The Guardian on the controversies trailing tithing, the Bishop of Anglican Communion, Calabar Diocese, Bishop Tunde Adeleye, said: “Tithe is not made for social work anyway, I hope you know that. The Bible is clear about what it should be used for. Tithe is supposed to be used in paying the salaries of pastors and making food and conveniences available in the house of the pastors. That is what God commands us to use tithe for. It is not meant for welfare. It is not meant to do social work, not at all and that is what the Bible says.
“The Bible commands us to pay tithe. In fact Apostle Paul in the New Testament said that all offerings and gatherings like tithe should be gathered before he comes so that, it is not when he comes that they should be going from house to house to collect and give to him. So the Bible teaches us to pay tithe and even more as a way of blessing the church.”
Condemning the attitude of some Christians who see tithing as a way of stealing from members, he said: “However, the Bible teaches clearly and pointedly that people should pay tithe. Anybody that is trying to avoid it is trying to be very treacherous, mischievous and dangerous to the church. Anybody that is saying we should not pay tithe is extremely myopic and dangerous both to God and the work of God.
“The churches don’t disagree with paying tithe it is some members who say they don’t want to pay tithe. I engaged one of them recently, he is a son of a pastor, the father has retired and I told him it was disgraceful for him, after the father has trained him with tithe throughout the school, he graduated and now he is working and he is saying we should not pay tithe and I say that is wicked.”
President of Unification of Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Ondo State and founder of Success Gate Christ Church international Inc, Primate Ade Ademisokun-Turton, however, said churches must reject money that is not clean.
Ademisokun-Turton hinged his argument on the controversial N43 million tithe paid to one of Nigerian churches by an individual sometimes ago, declaring that such money, aside from being unjustifiable, is unacceptable before the Lord if it was unclean.
Though, he didn’t kick against the idea of payment of tithe or expressed doubt that none could pay such huge amount as tithe, because some people still do legitimate businesses and can make such huge profit or more.
The Primate, however, gave a caveat, saying, “because we know that thieving is second nature in Nigeria, this makes people to be worried when such huge amount is paid as tithe.
“Aside from the fact that a lot of people have not been paying tithe in Nigerian churches, they only go to church to oppress even the pastors and the hungry pastors too. All we need to know as a church is that we need to know the source of that money.”
He pointed out that there are specific reasons why tithing is instituted in the Christendom and what it should be used for, which is basically to promote the gospel and God’s kingdom advancement on earth.
He identified the careless zeal of many churches to be rich and make money as the root of many evils in Christianity today. He condemned the ungodly channels, which the money received are being used mostly to the detriment of members and largely in contradiction to the church.
“The church has the right to reject tithe if the source is unclean, it must not come from a doubtful source. That’s the most important thing and that’s what we’ve been able to do in our church.
“We’ve rejected tithe in the past and Bible is also clear about this that you must not bring blood, robbery or fornication money to God.”
Ademisokun-Turton said pastors, as shepherds set before the church members as flock, should not extort them through tithing, but must receive whatever they give according to Biblical injuctions and create conventions for knowledge.
“It is a spiritual upliftment for the members. We give them the spiritual treatment, because a good church supposed to be a spiritual clinic. People now have their spiritual lives rejuvenated and a lot of damaged fuses are refused.”
In the same vein, Yusuf Ayeye, who converted to Christianity from Islamic religion, lamented that many churches have commercialised tithing and offering, using them as tools for exploitation and “holy robbery” of the congregation.
Ayeye revealed that “some pastors are so suave and roguish that they have uncommon specialty in Malachi 3:8-11 and use it as weapon to mesmerise the congregation to swindle them of their money.”
Though, he too did not condemn payment of tithe, he stressed that it must not be a “Ministry of Commerce” in the churches. “Tithe should be an understanding between a man and his God, not a relationship between the pastor and his members.”
According to him, the only duty pastors are called to do in that regards is to preach and impart knowledge on the congregation, the importance and benefits paying tithe, “not the authoritarian approaches employed by pastors and extortive curses they sing like songs to coerce their members to pay.”
Nonetheless, Ayeye acknowledged the fact that there is no way someone would abide by the word of God without getting the results. But he urged the pastors who are getting the results of being tithers themselves to embrace ascetic ways of life and follow the examples of Jesus Christ, the Founder of the Church.
Presiding Pastor, Riches of Grace Ministries, Enugu, Pastor Samuel Okoh, explained that tithing is all about relationship and obedience to the injunctions of God.
He said: “If you study church history, you will discover, it has been there, but that actually has not stopped people who believe in it from practising it. Whatever is happening now is not new; it has come and will soon fizzle out. The issue is those people who believe in it will do it. That is why I continue to say that tithing is about fellowship and it beats my imagination to know that people can restrict the interpretation of an injunction to a particular group of people in the Bible.”
According to him, “it is a thing that has to do with your personal relationship with God, because if God has got hold of you, he has hold of everything about you and there is no exception. It is just a part of the fraction in the life of a Christian, because if God has got hold of you, he must have hold of your time, your talents, he must have hold of everything about you. Your life will no longer be yours but that of God’s. So when we are talking about tithing we should see it in that perspective that it is a unit of what you are that God has gotten hold of.”
The man of God continued, “Abraham was recorded to have paid tithe. Gen 14 -19-20. It was recorded that Abraham paid tithe to Melchzedek and this was before Moses came. The people talking are having the misconception about the tithing recorded against the Israelites. So they are narrowing the interpretation of tithing to the Jewish order and forgetting that Abraham paid tithe. So what was the formula, what law did Abraham use in paying the tithe? He paid the tithe as a relationship.”
Talking about pastors and church leaders living flamboyant lifestyle with tithe money, when members are suffering, he enthused: “That is the hypocrisy in the society. You are talking about pastors and not politicians who also collect public funds and convert them to private use. When people pay their tithe, they should understand it is the appreciation of God being channeled through a man (Priest). So if a Pastor is misusing the tithe, then God has a way to handle such things.
“When you pay the tithe, God will use it to bless you. Malachi was not part of the legalistic order of Moses, but they are misinterpreting it. They forgot that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. People say all things because of ignorance. Jesus Christ in Matthew made a reference to tithing in the affirmative and that was when he was rebuking the Pharisees. So when people are abusing the men of God for receiving tithe, they are not being fair and saying that they are misusing tithe is not for them to judge.”
Chinedu Chidebere said as a “Christian, I believe that the commands of the Bible are for the betterment of our wellbeing. I try as much as possible to use whatever I have to please God. I don’t care whatever name people may give to it. What is important to me is to ensure that God is happy with me and the moment that is established, I am at please. God has a way of blessing his people, especially when you are obedient to him”.
Mrs. Grace Ugwu, however, said greed and jealousy were the cause of the recent squabble over tithe, stressing that a “good Christian should live by the obligations and faith he or she has sworn to, especially when he/she is convinced that such is a way of life.”
The controversial On Air Personality (OAP), Ifedayo Olarinde, aka Daddy Freeze, lambasted some men of God over the issue and their luxurious lifestyle. In one of his posts on Facebook, before he went on a popular TV show to speak on the issue, he posted “…tithe is for you to eat with your family, orphans, widows and the poor…” quoting some scriptural references to back his claim.
General Overseer of Hebrew Roots Assembly (HRA), Apostle Chidimma Osuchukwu who spoke with The Guardian said: “It is important to note one common and central feature of all tithes – they are meant to cater for the giver as well as others. Tithing was put in place by God to make sure that His sanctuary service is not hindered and that a healthy social ecosystem is maintained among His people.
“All of the uses of tithe are still applicable for believers today. There are still Levites among us. They may not be from the tribe of Levi but just like the Levites, they have dedicated their lives to the service of God to teach His word to His people. The feasts and appointed times are still valid and relevant until Jesus returns. Finally, there are still poor and less privileged people in our societies and the world in general.”
On his part, a Parishioner of the St Dominic’s Catholic Church Yaba, Leonard Okpala, insisted that Christians are not under any obligation to pay tithe. He argued that out of the 12 tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi was the only one that did no other work, but offered sacrifices while the other 11 tribes went to work and had personal possessions.
God being full of wisdom, understood that because they didn’t go to work, they would need to feed and take care of their families, made provision for them by commanding the 11 tribes to bring a certain percentage of their earnings to the Levites for sustenance. That was the essence of tithing. It was God’s original intention.
He continued: “God started the plan of salvation with only the Israelites by birth, but the coming of Jesus made every person who believes in him to be a priest according to 1Peter 2:9-10 (KJV). Therefore, every believer is a chosen priest and what does a priest do? A priest offers sacrifices and makes prayers for people. Jesus and his apostles never mentioned tithe but because of the greed and covetousness of emergency pastors who are all over Nigeria, they capitalized on Malachi 3:10 to deceive people. You don’t apply the Old Testament in its content but you look at the spirit behind the writing.
He added: “After the conversion of over 3000 persons during the Pentecost, people began to live communal lives. If tithe were to be paid, there would have been nothing like communal living. People gave as they could and everyone had enough. No one was poor. Acts 3, 4 and 5. Tithe is used to milk innocent and gullible Nigerians dry. These people who are supposed to be pastors extort their members all in the name of tithing. They live large and their children have the best of everything. They store their treasures here on earth, instead of in heaven. Who are they modeling? Is it Jesus?” Members of the different religious groups, who spoke to The Guardian, however, are in agreement as to what tithing is and why Christians should pay it.
A member of Mountain of Fire Church, Oyindamola Alashiri, said: “I believe so much in tithing. I give my tithe because it is according to the precepts of God and I count it a privilege to be able to give to the progress of the work of God. The benefits are unspeakable and unexplainable joy. There have been always open doors for me and I realise that most times I always have more than enough.”
According to Olatunji Olawale, “I give because it is a commandment from God and a way to tap into the realm of abundances, so that the windows of heaven can be open unto me. It was first a commandment, but now a necessity. Spiritual things cannot be understood with natural sense. I am not a millionaire, but everything I need, I just ask God and he provides for everything.”
Tiffany Odus, a Catholic, said: “I told myself I wouldn’t talk on this tithing issue, some people have made it mandatory quoting scriptures to back it. But I think tithing is a personal thing. Either I give or not shouldn’t be any one’s concern. The Bible said what you give to God with your right hand, your left hand shouldn’t see. If I say I give tithe and haven’t received any benefit, it means being ungrateful. That I wake up everyday is a miracle. So giving tithe shouldn’t be a debate, if one wants to give tithe in church fine, if one wants to give the tithe to less privilege fine.”
A Celestial Church member, Lara John, said:” I so much believe in it because it is a commandment from God, if we can claim all the blessings in the Bible be it old or new, we should be able to obey God’s words or commandments.”
According to Sunday Akinwale, an ECWA member said: “Tithe is a part of God’s instructions which I obey. I started practicing it from school even before I started earning salary I give without questioning God. If a man loves the Lord it will cost him a lot, God blesses me and I don’t look at it, if it is by my tithes. When I give my tithe I have peace with God in my heart that is the blessing.”
Faith Aladesuru, a Redeemed church member, said: “Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. In the last days, heresies will arise to shift our attention away from our focus. Besides, is it wrong to give back to God for blessings received, of which we know is only a seed for more bountiful harvest of blessings in the future.”
Another member of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Mr. Temple Tandu, said tithing and what it was used for should not be judge by man, because God instructed man to do so.
Tandu explained: “The mindset of people concerning tithe differs. Some believe, that if they pay tithe, it is the pastors that get the money for their own upkeep but one thing they should understand is that this came from God and what God expected from them is that they should fulfill their part and live the rest for Him. What pastor does with the money should not be their concerns. Fulfill your own part of righteousness.
“If I pay my tithe, that is, one tenth of my salary, am paying it because I am harkening unto God’s command and whatever they used the tithe for has nothing to do with the blessings of God. And again, there is no how you can run a church without money. In the situation whereby you need to assist a church member or do some repairs in the church, you have to look into the church coffer, which is what is called the store house according to the bible.
He warned that faluire to pay Tithe is punishable offense by God “Tithe is a command by God. It is a punishable offence but people look at it as something they can get away with because there is no physical punishment to that offence. The book of Malachi, chapter 3, verses 10, it says, bring all the tithe so that there will be meat in the store house and it went down to explained hoe he will rebuke deviance for your sake. Two, he will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessing that you will not have enough room to store if you pay your tithe. Now, the deviances are unplanned expenditures that cause you to spend all you have unnecessarily. It is an indirect punishment by God and if you fail to pay your tithe, deviance will not be rebuked. And you are depriving yourself of the blessing, which says, I will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings. All of these are benefits that are attached to tithe so if you fail to pay your tithe, you are not doing yourself good. There is nothing in the bible that is not true, since he has promised that he will rebuke deviance and will surely do it.
“In the Redeem Christian Church of God, we have a very formidable body that controls everything including the finance. When this money are gathered in the parish level, we make returns to the province and it follows suit up to the national, it is there they now look at the pressing need like how much is going to be allocated to the needy and all that. There are people on scholarship and they do a lot of cooperate social responsibilities with the money they gets from tithing.
According to Olatunde Temidayo, an Apostolic church member: “Tithes is a commandments from God, you can’t be worshipping in a church were you receive blessing and pay tithes to another church, God is not a partial God.”
To Ayodele Fasakin, Tithing is a function of honour. It is not a perquisite for being saved as the tithe merchants would want you to believe. No man should force us to pay tithes on their altar. It is ideal to honour God on the same altar we are constantly nourished spiritually.
Speaking on the issue, Pastor David Danjuma of Christian Pentecostal Mission (CPM) Port Harcourt, urged those kicking against it because some pastors are wealthy to repent, noting that tithe is not paid to pastors, but to God through a Pastor who serves as a priest of the church.
Also speaking, a member of Salvation Ministries, Kelvin Ebiri, explained that though this is the dispensation of grace, tithing is a demonstration of love, obedience to God and an appreciation of His graciousness, kindness and Salvation unto Christians.
Ebiri pointed out that it is expensive to preach the Gospel in this 21st century and advised those kicking against tithing to have a rethink.
On his part, a trader at Mile one market, Mr. Ogbonna Amadi said tithing doesn’t determine God’s blessings. He disclosed that he gives only to the needy.
Also, a civil servant at the State Ministry of Power, Michael Wobo, said it was wrong for pastors to persuade their members to pay tithe. He argued that tithe should be allowed to be handled with ones’ understanding and the lead of the Holy Spirit and not by force.
Another resident of Agip area in Port Harcourt, argued that it is not proper for pastors to pronounce that if people don’t pay tithe, things will be tight for them.
Similarly a poet, Sage Has.son said: “The term Tithe is archaic and practically non-existent in every day English usage and modern secular culture. The only place this word holds weight is in Christianity. Here, the word carries an unquantifiable authority that is total and confusing sometimes. One of the things I have discovered about words and terms that have lost their way and found themselves featuring prominently in sub culture is they become the proverbial thorn in the flesh (if you permit me to use a little Christianese or church speak).
“So, the first thing I would do is to do away with the term Tithe and find a more modern description. Tithe means a tenth. That’s putting it succinctly and simply. Tithe is the financial contract the Israelites entered with Jehovah to secure their economic wellbeing. The truth of it is Christianity is not Judaism and the concept of tithe has been adaptively reconfigured to suit a modern religion. But the wisdom behind the tithe has been hijacked at best.
“So, while they did tithe their harvest and livestock and sometimes consuming the tithe themselves (like most Christians now do, in spite of the hullabaloo), Christians today pay money to God to deliver them from curses. My great concern with Nigerian Christians is our penchant to focus on curses rather than blessings. In my humble opinion, tithing was a system instituted to teach a hard people how to love.”
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