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Money, wealth, accumulation, greed, and charity.

Tithing

Postby AlphaT » Fri May 06, 2016 12:35 am

My stepmother is in a financial struggle. She's trying to get out of a lot of debt, and recently it looks like she's been getting more "spiritual". I overheard her talking about how if she plants dollars, she will reap dollars. If she tithes, she will be rewarded. If she obeys God, God will in turn bless her.

This sounds an awful lot like the "Prosperity Gospel", and when I asked her more about it, things didn't go too well. She quoted Bible verses like Deuteronomy 28 1-2, and then simply ended the conversation by saying that God told her that this is right.

My stepmother is convinced that God has told her that if she is obedient, that God will provide for her needs, perhaps answer her prayers more often, and keep her loved ones safe.

My question really comes down to whether or not this is biblical, and if it isn't, how I might be able to convince her that it's not something she should believe in.
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Re: Tithing

Postby jimwalton » Sun May 08, 2016 5:40 pm

You're in a tough spot.

1. I don't believe in the Prosperity Gospel either. It's not Scriptural.
2. God is not tame. He just may bless her and meet her needs. He's not predictable that way.

Tithing in the OT was pretty much a set amount—certain percentages for certain things. It didn't even necessarily add up to 10%; sometimes people were giving up to 45% in various circumstances. (But remember, taxation and tithing were often mixed in the ancient theocracy of Israel at certain states of its nationhood.)

Jesus never took the tithe away, but he did seem to spiritualize it, so that it didn't matter how big a percentage you gave, as long as you gave from your heart and generously. Unfortunately, people took this as a license to feed their greed more, and hardly give anything. That was never Jesus' intent. His intent was to lift us out of law and into life by the Spirit. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus always asked more of us than anything the OT had ever explicitly required. But people used it as a license to shirk their spiritual responsibilities because no letter of the law was given. Oh, humankind: how can God love us the way He does????

I'm also a believer that someone who is poor need not give away the little they have: to give their tithe instead of buying bread. The only way they should give their tithe instead of buying bread is if the church hands them a "loaf of bread" at the end of the service to provide for their needs, as the church is obligated to do (care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans). But if she gives her money, and they church doesn't take care of her, a travesty has been committed.

This is what really should happen. She should give her tithe generously and joyfully, and the church should help her pay her bills, show up at her door with bags of food, and help to take care of her. That's what SHOULD happen. That's God's way, and the biblical way.

And who knows what God will do? But the Prosperity Gospel is a crock, for sure.

In response to Dt. 28.2 (even though this probably isn't something you can get stepmom to agree to):

We Christians are not entitled to the specific blessings promised in Dt. 28, because it’s not our covenant—it was not made with us. This was the old covenant made with Israel. This was written to physical Israel and the blessings are physical blessings promised to Israel. What God promises to us is what is listed in Ephesians 1 and the spiritual blessings, because we are the spiritual Israel. The principle is still good, however. The text calls for obedience to the Lord, and that principle still applies: we will be blessed if we obey, but not with these particular items. God blesses us with all the spiritual blessings in Christ.
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