I am writing this piece as a way of intervention in this matter of tithing or not tithing which has been in the news for a very long time now and has also been agitating the minds of many born again Christians, especially in Nigeria. The concern is whether a born again person who fails to pay tithe to his pastor can be under a curse from God. I hope here that my intervention will bring the truth to the fore and knowledge to all. Though, I have long decided not to join issues with fellow ministers of God either in the media for ethical reasons. I trust God that one day the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) will provide a platform for ministers of God to come together once in a while to debate key doctrinal issues of Christian faith to avoid a situation we will be seen as washing our dirty lining in the public.
While we wait for that time when our elders will wake up from their sleep and do the right thing, I consider it extremely imperative to make this once and for all intervention on the subject matter as one who has received the grace of God to teach knowledge and I believe God my intervention will give clarity to the issue and bring liberation to many Christians who have been held in bondage in the subject of tithe without scriptural support. Many pastors who emphasis tithing without which one will be under a curse from God do so for simple reasons of personal aggrandizement and they know it. Time has come when pastors who take advantage of the ignorance of poor masses will no longer be popular. The primary purpose of church is to win souls.
Though I may not have serious issues with the doctrine of tithing in the church but I totally disagree with the notion that anybody who fails to pay tithe will be under a curse from God. It is certainly not true; God cannot curse his heritage whom he died for. The pastors who are preaching that anyone who fails to pay tithe to them will be under a curse from God are simply doing so to create fears in the hearts of their church members in order to increase their harvest of tithes. However, such a pastor or bishop may use his spiritual office to place a curse on such persons who are considered to have failed to comply with his doctrine. We must understand that a pastor who is desperate for money may go to any length to achieve his goal. He will do so to make it look as if the erring individual is under a curse from God. And in most cases the pastor’s curse will work against the supposedly erring church member who has submitted himself to the spiritual authority of the pastor. A good example is the relationship between a child and a parent. When a parent curses his or her child; the curse does work against that child even if the child is not guilty of any offence because of spiritual law and the spiritual authority of the parent over the child.
Apparently, it is a very dangerous thing for anybody to be under the authority of one who speaks of curses all the time in order to secure obedience. That in itself reflects the heart condition of the individual. While it is not advisable to disobey a superior authority, it is important that we understand that God did not call us into the ministry of cursing his heritage but to bless. And every born again person must equally understand that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, and of power and of sound mind. And where the spirit of God is, there is liberty. The problem in the church today is how to differentiate between real men and women of God and the fake. A lot of the so-called men and women of God misuse their spiritual offices to intimidate their church members for the purpose of extorting money from them thereby enriching themselves..
The truth that must be told here is that tithing is an Old Testament ordinance which was part of the ordinances done away with when Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for the redemption of humanity through his suffering, death and burial. Every Old Testament law was fulfilled by Jesus Christ for us the believers in Christ. Unfortunately, most pastors today preach and practice Old Testament laws as if they are Jews by birth. The Old Testament laws were like a constitution God gave to his natural covenant people, the Jews. The Old Testament is a shadow of the New Testament and not the real thing.
There is a difference between the Old Testament church and the New Testament church. There is also a difference between the Old Testament priesthood ordinances and the New Testament priesthood ordinances. The misconception of these facts have led to what we have today in the body of Christ where the founding pastors, bishops or archbishops line up their wives and children as successors should they die or become unable to hold the office. This practice has no New Testament scriptural backing and therefore can be rightly said to be a complete aberration.
In the Old Testament priesthood, succession into the priesthood and kingship offices runs in the family of the priest or the king whereas in the New Testament priesthood, succession runs in the body of Christ. Every one of us is a priest and a king unto God to reign here on earth for him. Anybody in the church who is qualified can succeed the late leader in line with the basic New Testament scriptures. These things need to be corrected now because it has gone on for too long a time and has created a lot of problems in the church. We cannot continue to do the wrong things and expect good leadership from the secular nations while preaching to everybody to be born again.
The doctrine of tithing in the New Testament was originally adopted by some elders of the churches much later after the early church and that cannot be said to be a bad idea. In the wisdom of most of these church elders who imported tithing from the Old Testament to the New Testament church was to make it easier for the church to raise money to carry out its activities and to ensure that there is always food in the store house of God for the entire church members and not in the store house of the pastor for him and his family.
Notice the difference. The practice of the early church as recorded in the Bible reveals that all the church members had everything in common and shared it equally according to individual needs, including the pastors. I guess the reason for the replacement of having and sharing everything in common with tithing in the church was to stem abuses which are still the case now. Had we continued with the early church practice of having everything in common and sharing the same, the reckless abuses we have everywhere now could have been worse than any of us could have imagined. Therefore, tithing makes sense if not the same abuses. The efforts to eliminate abuses, and avoid tasking the members of the church regularly or asking them to seĺl their belongings and bring all the money into a common purse as was the practice in the early church seems not to have fully served its purpose. That notwithstanding, it is still better to have the church members pay tithe which is 10 per cent of their income from whatever they do on weekly basis, fortnightly or monthly as the case may be. Even then the practice of tithing must not be compulsory for very low income earners except those who decided to do so in expression of their love and faith. The target persons for tithing should be mainly the rich as it was in the early days when it was reintroduced. Anything in the contrary is an aberration. Jesus did not even preach or practice tithing during his earthly ministry neither did the early apostles.
Without any doubt, we have seen many of our pastors today misuse the money of the church, wasting it on themselves and families, encouraging and living ostentatious lifestyle even more than the politicians of our time. Who now should be under a curse from God? The poor child of God that is barely eating three square meals a day or the pastor who is flying the latest private jet in town with the church money, living in reckless affluence and building and owing mansions in choice cities around the world.
We have also seen how these pastors are using the Church money to build family business empires, such as universities, hospitals, nursery, primary and secondary schools and religious camps and recreational centers. They are also engaging in white elephant projects that do not help the poor and the society. Instead of using such God given money to help solve the problems around us through strategic investments that can create jobs, they waste it in meaningless things, and yet these are leaders in the church that God calls the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When are we then going to begin to give taste to the earth that is tasteless and shine as light to give direction to a world in confusion and darkness?
Permit me to further ask the question; is tithe greater than the blood of Jesus Christ sacrificed for humanity? Can tithe or tithing take the place of grace of God? How can we forget that “the just shall by faith and not by works.” Let me equally ask the question, does Alhaji Aliko Dangote who is the richest black man in the whole world pay tithe to any church. Do we really appreciate the present day ministry of Jesus as the Mediator of the New Covenant who is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for the believers? And whenever there is a charge against a born again child of God, Jesus will raise his hand to say, point of order, I died for that precious child of God. The angel will immediately take a bow and face other businesses.
As the Church of the living God, have we thought of the reasons for the growing number of fake pastors and fake prophets and the likes who claim to have been Christians from their mother’s womb because they do not know what it means to be a Christian. How much has the church in Nigeria done to lift Nigeria out of poverty? The reason Nigeria remains poor today is not only as a result of corruption on the part of politicians but the lack of foresight on the part of the church. Take example of how much pastors use in buying one private jet. That amount could set up a massive farmland that could give employment to 200 persons or more. Most of our pastors spend billions of Naira competing with each other and building white elephant projects which have no impact on the ordinary person and the society. The money most churches spend building camps out of competition could be used creatively to develop other sectors of our national economy for the purpose of creating jobs and reducing crimes and other societal ills. The opportunities are there in agro-businesses, entrepreneurship, innovations and invention and information technology and we are nowhere in these things that can radically transform any society.
Imagine the growing number of the so-called deliverance ministers and prophets in every corner of Nigeria targeting families and individuals who have one problem or the other. So many women looking for fruits of the womb go through all kinds of things in the hands of these false prophets. How about young men and young ladies who want to make it early in life or get married? These people give all manner of offerings and seeds to the so-called prophets who copy their practices from the church of the living God.
The church needs to go back to the drawing board to understand what the issues are and how to tackle the challenges. Our problem is not the poor child of God. And in case, any church is experiencing financial dwindling now, please note that it is still too early to cry. Nobody should set up church because of tithe. Bankruptcy is already looming in the states of Nigeria, including at the federal level. The real impact of COVID-19 on the economy of nations is about to begin. That may be the reason for the financial downturn in any church. The church will have nobody to blame as pastors fail to do what is expected of us in Nigeria. Even in the political choice of who becomes the president of Nigeria or who governs us at state levels, we lied to ourselves and stayed divided. Today, Nigeria is mourning because that is what happens when the wicked is on the throne. Whatsoever a man sows that shall he reap also. Those who have sown corruption should be prepared to reap corruption. God bless the Body of Christ!
•Dr. Martins P. Iwuanyanwu is the pastor of Knowledge Christian Centre, an arm of International Commonwealth Gospel Ministries and Founder Leadership Watch: Email[email protected]