Holy Smoke Whatever Happened to Tithing
I finished the book, “Holy Smoke: Whatever happened to Tithing?” by J. Clif Christopher and Herb Mather a few weeks ago. This book is pro-tithing but has somewhat of a unique perspective on it. Although it didn’t introduce any new tithing arguments, it still gave a few bits of information for me to get into. Let’s get into the excerpts.
Malachi condemns the people for not bringing tithes, but also for not bringing their offerings. For the Hebrew people, the rebuke includes sin offerings, thank offerings, and a profusion of other offerings described in scriptures. Most tithing legalists want to praise anyone who tithes to affirm any additional offerings as acts of merit over and above the call of duty. They ignore the fact that the offerings were also commanded in the same breath as the tithe. If the Jewish tithes is commanded of all Christians, why are not all of the offerings mentioned in the Old Testament also required? Both tithes and offerings were symbols of Israel’s relationship with God.
Ha!, I said this was a pro-tithing book, right? I’ve heard many said in an argument that tithing is a symbol of our dedication to God, and yet they neglect the fact that every other old testament ritual had symbolic ramifications for worshiping Him. Tithing wasn’t the exclusive law that measured Israel’s relationship with God. Our obedience to any of God’s laws is a litmus test. The fact that pro-tithers single out tithing as if it is an exclusive measurement to test our relationship status with Him is proof that they have been brainwashed.
The appeal to tithing as a route to prosperity has had an appeal throughout history. It points up a strange Catch-22. Those who tithe tend to bring the whole of their economic lives under greater discipline. The cultivation of new financial practices based on sound values often leads prosperity.
Ok, let’s dissect this statement. Many say that those who tithe tend to be more prosperous, but the fact of the matter is that those who tithe typically have their entire financial lives under a great amount of discipline. In other words, it might not be so much that the tithe makes them prosperous, it’s the fact that their financial discipline spills over to every aspect of their financial lives. Even though this book is pro-tithing, it was still open minded enough to state the facts.
The purpose of rendering holy smoke through the regular discipline of tithing is to help us stay healthy enough spiritually so that we may be able to hear what the Lord ultimately wants from our whole lives. . . tithing helps us relfect on the most faithful way to use the remaining ninety percent of our income.
This statement is the pretty much the crux of their whole tithing stance. Tithing may help some to stay healthy but it may hurt others. The flaw of tithing’s philosophy is that it is a “good” principle. But there are better principles for every individual. Only the Holy Spirit is capable of personally tutoring each individual on how much they should give. Yes, the tithe is a “good” benchmark, but good doesn’t cut it if we are missing the mark of what God wants us to give. I’m not saying that tithing hinders people from giving more. I’m saying that tithing hinders people from hearing the Spirit’s guidance when it is given.
If we want to hear what the Lord ultimately wants from our whole lives, then we have to be accustomed to hearing how the Lord speaks to us. Tithing is a static law, that requires no communication with God. We don’t need to know where, when, how much, or why we give it. We just do it, and that’s that! There is no hearing involved until we get to 11% and then all of a sudden we’re suppose to know how to listen to God? Tithing did not prepare you for this.
What happens is that people are like “well i just don’t know what to give, so i guess i’ll do whatever everyone else does”. This is immature giving. Imagine if you gave to your spouse in this way? How boring and unpersonalized! Yet, we give to God this way. Kind of seems strange that God went through the process of restoring fellowship with mankind so that we can just ignore his counsel with our giving. Sure, many of you give tithes above offerings, but i would venture to say that you are just guessing. You are probably giving 11 – maybe 12%. I know this because this is what i used to do. I had no clue what being spirit led meant because i was an automated giver. I had no clue that God wanted to tell me where every single penny should go.
This is why the Church struggles so much today to emulate the early Church. The early Church understood and lived the dynamics of being spirit led. In today’s environment we give no different than pagans, who worship a dead God. We say our God is alive, and yet, our giving is automated and calculated as if there was sound proof glass between us and Him.