Preachers And Money; Tithes And Offerings

I can’t help but see this almost every time in certain places. Such places like World Changers, with Creflo Dollar, Leroy Thompson of Ever Increasing Word Ministries, and Eddie Long, of New Birth Missionary Baptist.

Anytime the place is in an emotional uproar, people start coming up to the pulpit to give money.

During the 2012 New Year’s Service at Eddie Long’s church, an emotional frenzy was in full swing and people started coming up to give money.

Since pastoring for 19 years, I’ve learned some things and I’ve made some critical adjustments regarding membership, tithes, and offerings.

As a pastor myself, I believe in tithes and offerings.

However, I do not do it out of compulsion or command, but I do it out of my covenant relationship with the Lord like Abram.

I believe that we should never look down upon people that tithe and we should never look down on people that do not tithe. It’s not a heaven and hell issue. God has been so good to me that I will honor Him with my best. The level of my best is determined by me paying my tithes.

Now, many will say then you need to follow all the OT rules of tithing.

No. I’m not buying cattle and there is no temple or Levites to give them to. And I am not a Hebrew.

So why tithe?

It’s my business between the Lord and I. I do not impose this on anyone from the pulpit. If they choose to tithe, it’s their business. I will not check their records to see who is tithing. I used to check, but that’s witchcraft and covetousness.

I also believe that the moment that the Lord cannot pay for its expenses through the people He sends, that it is time to close its doors forever. I will never beg, borrow, or manipulate anyone to keep open something that the Lord no longer wants open.

I believe that pastors should not use any form of manipulation to coerce people to give to a pastor or a ministry. The one thing that I do believe in is that a church should live within its means. Also, I believe that what the Lord calls for, He provides for through people whom He sent to be a part of that ministry.

I have also changed my way of thinking about membership. We are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.

There are many people that demand loyalty to a local church and its pastor. There is nothing in Scripture that gives anyone the right to demand loyalty by membership. We do see in the NT a command to be a part of a local church. We are baptized into one Body. The true identity of the local church is not found in activities and events. The true identity of the local church is found in people living the life of Jesus for the world to see, and to be a vocal witness and testimony to those that live in darkness. Membership should never be by manipulation or coercion.

We do see that those that have the call of God upon their lives must be examined and ordained, but we do not have any criteria for local church membership.

What we see is that it is important that people be a part of the local church. They should go through some sort of structured “indoctrination” to know what this local church is about based on the Bible, in terms of tenets of faith, and discipleship in Christ. They should know what the pastor believes and what to expect in a local church. Each local church is different and we should never impose upon people certain things that fail Scriptural support.

Besides, pastors do not own the sheep, the flock of God. We are automatically disqualified because we didn’t die on the cross for people. Our sinful blood doesn’t qualify.

First, tithes and offerings.

Tithing was first seen in the Scriptures with Abram after he returned from the slaughter of the kings who took Lot as hostage. Upon returning from the battle, Melchizedek brought Abram bread and wine, and Abram gave Melchizedek ten percent of the spoils of war. We’ve never seen in Scripture that Abram tithed before or after this incident. Please note that Melchizedek was high priest of Salem, and in Hebrews chapter 7, the Lord Jesus would have a ministry after the order of Melchizedek. Please note that bread and wine are emblems of communion, which was used at the last supper of Jesus.

You can’t make this up.

We also see that God did bless Abram before he left Ur of the Chaldees with material wealth. There is no record that Abram tithed when he was in Ur. Therefore to speculate would be error. We can only say that it is possible that Abram tithed because we lack solid Biblical evidence.

Jacob vowed to tithe after he named the place Bethel where he observed the angels of the Lord ascending and descending. This was commonly called, “Jacob’s Ladder.”

We do not hear of tithing until the law of Moses where the nation was instructed to pay tithes to the Levites because no land would be given to them as an inheritance to this tribe. They were exclusively a tribe for the service of the tabernacle of the Lord. The Levites didn’t have to do anything but service.

It is important to note that when the children of Israel were exiled to Babylon that when it was time to return, Ezra and Nehemiah would lead the way. When they were just about to finish the task, they ran into a problem. The prophet Haggai gave a word that revealed a problem. The wall was rebuilt but the temple remained in ruins. The people were using the money to build their own houses while leaving the house of the Lord in ruins.

70 years is a long time for the temple of Solomon to be in ruins.

The Lord blew upon their houses, put holes in their pockets, and literally judged them for not building the house of the Lord first, then their homes. They finally got it right and the house of the Lord was restored.

The last time that we see tithing in the OT is when the prophet Malachi shared about robbing God. Even after the temple was built, they continued in their old ways of robbing God. The Levites weren’t getting the tithes and offerings for their service of the tabernacle of the Lord. So the priests were financially abused. The Lord imposed the curse for robbing God in Malachi 3:9. This curse was lifted when Jesus became a curse for us according to Galatians 3:13-14.

Fast forward to the NT and we see that tithing was still a part of their temple worship. Jesus mentioned tithing in Matthew 23.

Please note that prior to the resurrection of the Lord that the OT was still in play. The people pretty much started giving to the ministry of the Lord Jesus (see Luke 8:1-3 and John 13:29). It is interesting to note that during the ministry of the Lord Jesus, there is no place written in the four Synoptic gospels that Jesus demanded tithes or offerings. However, he did instruct the Pharisees and Sadducees that they were not to leave tithing undone. What we also do not see is the Lord altering the tithes to come to Him. People still went to the temple to pay tithes and offerings.

When the crucifixion of Jesus took place, the Lord said, “It is finished,” and the curtain in the temple leading into the Holies of holies was ripped into two pieces. It signified that the OT is no longer to be used. In Biblical numerology, two is the number of a witness. In 2 Corinthians 13:1, Paul said, “Out of the mouth of two or three witness shall every word be established.” 

This is from Deuteronomy 19:15 regarding establishing whether a witness is speaking the truth or not. The Lord Jesus used this when the Sanhedrin questioned Him about Jesus being equal with God (see John 8:13-18).

When the veil was ripped in two pieces, it was a witness against the entire nation of Israel that the OT is closed. God will never inhabit a building or tabernacle ever again. So the Levites are now unemployed.

That meant that the high priest and the Levites no longer had a job. Meaning that it was no longer necessary for tithes and offerings to be given to them for the service of the tabernacle because the tabernacle is no longer to be used as the place of worship for the Lord.

The new tabernacle is the heart of men (see Ezekiel 11:19-20, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, and Ephesians 2:14-22).

Now we do see, just for example purposes, that tithing was instituted during the OT, but we do not see any instruction for tithing for NT believers.

Here’s where we need to end the error.

When something is no longer instituted, what is the way of the Lord regarding the Christian church, after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus?

Some will refer to 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and 9.

2 Corinthians chapter 8 and 9 hasn’t been taught correctly either.

If you look very carefully, this act of giving was about a one time offering (not a weekly offering), to support the saints in need. If you read it very carefully, you will note that it took them one year to get this relief offering together, and it is not clear that it was only money. It could have been a combination of perishable and non perishable items. Paul was encouraging them to finish this up so that the saints could be ministered to. It wasn’t an offering to the church. It wasn’t an offering for Paul. It was a relief offering for the saints during a time of need.

Also, the rule of giving is to give what you can. Not give what you do not have. If you do not have it to give, God is not going to curse you. You can only give as the Lord has blessed you. So we should never look down upon those that do not have to give. Another rule is that the Lord doesn’t want you to get into debt when you are giving. Don’t put nothing on a credit card or loans, or home equity. God is never in debt to no one. God never commands a person to go into debt to get something done. If you have to go into debt to get something done, you haven’t heard from God.

Paul said, “Owe no man anything.”

The Lord told the children of Israel, “You shall lend and not borrow.”

Why?

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant (slave) to the lender.”

If a preacher tells you to get into debt, he lied to you, and all liars will have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (see Revelation 21:8).

2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 would be used as a place where somebody would talk about tithes.

WRONG!!!

There is no place in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 where tithing was ever discussed.

So where does tithing fit for the NT believer?

The correct answer would be… no where is it stated that tithing is commanded of the Lord for NT believers.

I am aware of Proverbs 3:9-10 where we are to honor the Lord with your possessions. Traditionally, this portion of Scripture would refer to tithing. The first fruits that this verse is referring to is the best that you can give from all that God gave you.

To me, what I would do in light of this is go beyond a dollar. If a dollar is the best you could give after receiving a bi-weekly take home salary of $1,500.00, a dollar is not your best. That’s a tip for a waiter. This is being grudging and a miser. God is never that way with us and we should never be that way with Him. Just imagine that you got to pay rent and all God blessed you with is a job that earned a dollar? Would that be enough to pay rent? You know the landlord will give you an eviction notice if you give the landlord a dollar.

Then what would we consider to be the best that we could give the Lord of all that we possess? Your giving is already settled in your heart between you and the Lord. To keep calling for somebody to go beyond what the Lord already placed in your heart to give, is abuse. You know what I am talking about.

“I know that the Lord told somebody in here to give $1,000. We ain’t leaving till you do it, in Jesus’ name.”

So the music plays for another half an hour.

Foolishness!

We see that giving is said of the Lord in Acts 20:35. If the Lord said to pay tithes, He would have said so, but He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Jesus didn’t belittle receiving. All He did was showed that it is more blessed. So receiving is blessed, but giving is more blessed.

The other thing that we would see is a pastor receiving enormous offerings and honorariums. In some cases, outrageous money would be given. I’ve heard that one preacher would get half the offering. If the stadium was filled to capacity, that’s a huge offering. I’ve also heard of VIP seating where a fee would be paid in advance for people to sit very close to speakers.

I’ve heard this done with two prominent speakers.

Joel Osteen and Myles Monroe.

I’ve also seen where there would be two offering plates. One for the speaker and the other for the church. Some places would have a check already written out and the speaker would never see the offering in the plate.

However, note what Paul said in Acts 20:33-34.

“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak.”

Many pastors do not get paid to support their families today and are forced to work a secular job while pastoring. I know of a situation where a male pastor is working full time at the church but his wife had to work a secular job to make ends meet.

Paul was sometimes forced to labor and preach.

Even the Lord commanded that preachers should get paid.

Notice 1 Corinthians 9:11-18.

If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.

Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?

Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!

For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.

What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.”

I think that according to Paul, we can learn something from this.

The Philippian church was the only church that supported Paul and his entourage. Everyone else said to Paul, you are on your own. Or, for the sake of not being accused, he refused to receive an offering.

Paul had a right to demand he get paid, but he refused to exercise that right. He had a higher place of advantage. Go and work for yours. Many pastors do this year in and year out. With small congregations that cannot financially carry a pastor, he has no choice. Especially when he has a wife and children.

Paul saw that people didn’t trust preachers. Sadly, peddlers of the gospel in Paul’s day made it bad for them and for us that are legitimately called by the Lord. However, Paul took the high road and worked so that the gospel would never be blamed in any way.

However, the shenanigans of our day have really taken advantage of the sheep.

And here is the reason.

The prosperity gospel started because disgruntled preachers weren’t getting paid what they feel they were worth and then the race was on. People started to give to preachers out of three places. The gospel of prosperity is a clear violation of Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 6:19-21 where we are told not to lay up treasures on earth. The giving to get doctrine is the law of reciprocity at work but the purpose behind giving has always been about getting more by giving.

At one point, Jesus did mention about giving something to someone in need, looking for nothing in return. Folks today would have ran Jesus out the building and over the cliff.

Here is the three reasons behind the hype of church paying tithes and giving offerings.

1. Emotional Manipulation.

2. Intellectual Manipulation.

3. Revelatory Manipulation.

What helps in all three categories is music. The right words said at the right time, with the right music, and some people will give their houses away. That’s what I’ve noticed on Eddie Long’s watch night service in 2012. The stringed keyboards would be used in the background and it would give that worship feel that tugs on your heart and clouds your mind.

Folks, it’s time to look at the reality of the Word. God knows where you are in your finances and He is not going to rob you and leave you dry. He will put enough in your hand where when it is time to give, you will be cheerful about it.

The false prophets started teaching these things as well and what cropped up was the money line.

$50, $100, $1,000, $2,000, $10,000.

People were giving their rent, light, gas, car notes bills away.

Many pastors were climbing onboard with these heresy doctrines and building all sorts of temples unto themselves.

Building buildings instead of building people.

Sadly, people would come and give so much money that they thought that God would give something back substantially in return.

I heard of people leaving certain local churches to attend Creflo Dollar’s church. Without going into detail, they went down there in hopes of turning their financial situation around. Their outcome is uncertain. When you attend church for the wrong reason, you will never get the right reason. When pastors abuse the people, they are hirelings.

So what did we learn?

We learned that tithing is not commanded of believers in the NT. We learned that pastors are entitled to be paid because Jesus commanded it to be so. We learned that certain pastors work a secular job to make ends meet, and to not let the gospel be blamed in any way. We learned that 2 Corinthians is not about tithing or regular weekly giving but to meet the needs of the poor saints with a one time offering. We learned that Jesus never demanded tithes and offerings during His ministry, but He did receive financial help. We learned that we do not give our best after God blessed us; we tip God.

We learned that we are not to be manipulated or coerced to give, and that we are not to allow anyone to impose a guilt trip upon people. We learned that music could be used to soften the heart to give. We learned that the Lord already placed in our hearts what to give, and not beyond it. We learned that the church is not a place where it supposed to rob people but to help people get closer to the Lord in a relationship with Jesus.

Is the place where you are supposed to be worshipping God, a den of robbers?