Tithing has not been a topic that I’ve discussed and to be honest, I really haven’t researched it much in the past, but here are some links I found very quickly (and I don’t know anything about them):
It is a topic generating a lot of heated discussion on blogs, including FBC Jax Watchdogs’ blog:
Regardless of your tithing practices or beliefs, most of us would probably agree that the pastor in the next story did not represent Christ well by the way in which he asked for contributions in tithes. This story would probably send shivers down a lot of godly pastors’ spines hearing these words and knowing the stinging effect they could have on someone’s life.
This personal story comes from reader, Gary, who posted the first paragraph on my former blog. I asked him if he could expound on the story just a bit and he kindly did. I really appreciate Gary sharing his personal story with us.
I was reminded of the spiritual abuse definition that I use here on my blog (located in Spiritual Abuse Help tab above). This part of the definition, in particular, rang true in Gary’s story:
. . . . Rather than speaking the truth in love and rather than ministering grace and truth (Ephesians 4:11-16, 29; Colossians 4:3-6; Titus 2:10-12), the spiritually abusive pastor intimidates, judges, condemns, shames, and blames the sheep without regard for the spiritual wellbeing of the sheep (Jeremiah 23:1-4; Matthew 23:1-39). Definition from Bob Kellemen, Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition
We read only one paragraph of the actual abusive practice from the pastor, however, notice the long-reaching effects of this particular pastor’s words. How many people and generations were affected by this man’s shaming words? We may never know.
With the close exception of my father, my grandfather expressed love to me beyond the measure of any other man. It is likely the narrative has lost accuracy over many decades, but the story is told how my grandfather, as a young man, attended a “church” service in which the preacher, after the offering, asked those who gave to stand. The preacher then proceeded to shame those who remained seated. My grandfather was among the seated and shamed, and he never returned to that “church,” nor did he to my knowledge ever attend any other church or so-called “church” to the end of his life. If the evangelical doctrines of salvation are correct, I have no reason to believe my grandfather (did I mention that he loved me?) entered the ranks of the redeemed before he died in the 1980s. Worse, according to the evangelicals, who with rarest exception preach and manipulatively threaten hell, hellfire and brimstone, my grandfather is suffering conscious, fiery, punishment forever and ever–without end.
I do not wish to lay too much at the feet of a preacher who acted immaturely, probably the better part of a century ago. God is sovereign, redeeming even our mistakes. All of us, including my grandfather, are accountable for our own lives. Yet the preacher of whom I speak may have lost the opportunity, through my grandfather, to have been the instrument of God’s transforming grace for generations to come. Here is what I mean:
My grandfather was a gentle and quiet encourager, teacher and imparter of such positive values and wisdom as he possessed. He possessed a great deal of wisdom. In cases of need he had the ability to effectively discipline without anger and without resorting to the imposition of fear, guilt and shame. He had a way of making us know that we were valued, that we had what it takes to accomplish our goals. He is surely entitled to no small measure of credit for the fact that his descendants include those who have made professional contributions in the areas of the sciences, medicine, law and higher education. There are entrepreneurs. A goodly number are accomplished musicians. I believe that my grandfather’s many descendants would without exception be counted good citizens. But for fear of making my family too easily identifiable, I could go on.
Yet the family history is not without a measure of grief. Only some of us found our way into active participation in the Faith. Some, though in the Faith, appear to have remained on its periphery. Some, from appearances at least, have rejected the Faith. To my knowledge, and with the exception of one musician, not a one of my grandfather’s descendants has contributed to the Faith at a professional level. There are none who have made careers of being pastors, evangelists, Christian educators, etc.
I can only wonder. What might have been the result if that preacher of so long ago had not shamed my grandfather? What if the preacher had, instead, endeavored to win my grandfather with love? What if that preacher had actually won him to the Faith? Might my grandfather then have succeeded in, or at least contributed to, the raising up of generations of believers characterized by grace-driven pursuits redounding, not just to the temporal benefit, but to the eternal benefit, of many?
All of which leads to the question, how can we, how can I, find the way of love, the way to winning with love? To the extent we either fail or succeed, maybe the eternal consequences are much greater than we can know, either for evil or for good. I point back to a preacher of long ago, but I convict myself.