Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tithe or Pay Bills

Descendants of Jacob, I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I never change. That's why you haven't been wiped out, even though you have ignored and disobeyed my laws ever since the time of your ancestors. But if you return to me, I will return to you. And yet you ask, "How can we return?" You people are robbing me, your God. And, here you are, asking, "How are we robbing you?" I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing. -Malachi 3:6-10

So, this is one of the few scriptures Christians use as their justification for tithing? Just from this passage alone and all of chapter 3 of Malachi I understand why Christians are so boastfully dedicated and fearfully disciplined about giving their ten percent to the Lord. From reading the above, one could conclude that God is some bookie enforcing his standards of payment and how he expects payment to be presented. God the bookie? The Numbers Man, and for those of you reading from a small country town: The Ball Ticket Man?

Within this Holy Scripture, God appears to be some bully who forces His believers to give to Him and fear Him – but He will give to the believer if he/she does right by Him. Strange? Well, I am always asking, who is this God? It is evident the God in this text is willing to give back to you if you give to Him. Sort of like, one hand washing the other. However, according to Christianity the Christian should not expect anything in return for their good deeds and obedience. One should just do right by Him and give back to humanity while here on earth. The reward comes later. Right? Heaven is the final destination for most Christians. Wait, he/she has to be saved. Forgot about that! The Pearly Gates is where they are trying to arrive despite their every day activities: Living their Life.

Life is what we have to live no matter what the bible says. We have to get up each and every morning. Some of us wake-up elated and others dread the day before it starts. From my reading and conversations with so many people, getting up happy is not as popular as hating the pending day. High gas prices. Rising food prices and escalating water bills. Can you believe the Georgia state representatives asked and required its residents to conserve water due to a severe drought, and now we will experience an increase in our water bills because the water utility companies are reporting a low profit as a result of our compliance? After doing what was asked (like doing what God demands), we now will be punished and/or short-changed. This is only one example that relates to the American economic dilemma.

Even with the United States financial crisis that’s affecting the working and middle class, God still demands His ten percent payment. He is like the effective bookie or ball ticket pusher. They do not care if your funds are running low. If ya owe ya owe. PERIOD. And, if you are a strict adherent to the bible you will produce that ten percent when the tithing tray arrives at your pew regardless of your bill situation at home. You better! God did say in the Book of Malachi that He “challenges you to put Him to the test.” Indicating one should pay the 10% because He will prove to you that He will restore you with a blessing. Are we sure about that?

Let’s pretend with an analogy:

God is a bank and you are a committed, God-fearing, and obedient Christian who has been paying your tithes for over 40 years diligently. In this sense, your credit is good with God/the bank which means you have built a secure and sufficient level of credit with God/the bank. With this level of credit you can go to any bank/God, and get a loan/your prayers answered to help you during these rough economic times. One would think since you have been God’s dynamic and devoted steward you have an extensive line of credit/potential blessings. Not the credit of getting into heaven. No, something more tangible and/or practical. Something you need on earth on that day you wake-up wondering if you should pay for gas or breakfast. Isn’t this the time you should go to God like you always do, and ask for Him to make a way out of no way? You are bowing down on bending knee – but this prayer is not being answered. God, not the bank, has denied your loan. Your credit is not good enough even after you have been giving to Him so “there will be food in His house”. Didn’t He promise you He would “open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing”? Should not your blessing be money for a tank of gas? This is what you need as gas prices continue to climb and climb ($4.00 in Atlanta at the moment)? Aren’t we told that God gives us what we need, and not what we want?

Christians, if you are concerned about how your ends will meet I recommend you take your problems to your bookie/your God. Lay them on the altar as you are summons! He may be willing to front you some loot. He should considering you are a loyal tither. You deserve some credit. A handout. You did just give him your ten percent last Sunday and the Sunday before that.

Written by Muata. Inspired by two radio personalities: Buster Brown and Michael Baisden. They need to keep challenging us to THINK. No matter how uncomfortable we get!


Muata said...

Reader LS Responds:

Prayer changes things is a lie. Prayer alone is useless. You have to fend for yourself out here. God has more important things to wrry about like Satan.


Muata said...

Muata Responds to LS:

It is a BIG lie, and too many people have fell for it! It is the action that changes the situation. Most people pray because they are told to. Not because they truly believe it works. However, prayer is a source of solitude for some. It provides peace. If talking to yourself works for you so be it.


Muata said...

Reader SR responds:

I don't tithe, I give what I can give, and I don't let the pastor dictate to me when and how much I should give... I still have to live to and take care of my family. and yes I do pray every day not as much as I should, but I do talk to him one on one.


Muata said...

Reader a Peaceful Journey Responds:

very thought provoking. when we really start looking at stuff analytically and logically like that, it's so clear that much of religion is really irrational. i was talking to a guy at work the other day, and he asked me what church i belonged to. i told him that i am not a member of a church and he looked at me in shock, like i had committed a crime. of course, he was really trying to recruit me into his new church which is being held---you ready for this--in a fulton county elementary school on sundays and wednesdays. i asked him how he pulled that off with the whole seperation of church and state law. his response was simply, "well i work for teh school system." that sounds fishy!! he's got flyers and everything, though.

it still fascinates me that people still assume that everyone is christian. no one asks, "are you christian?" the popular question here is "what church do you go to?"

-A Peaceful Journey

Muata said...

Reader a Peaceful Journey Responds:

very thought provoking. when we really start looking at stuff analytically and logically like that, it's so clear that much of religion is really irrational. i was talking to a guy at work the other day, and he asked me what church i belonged to. i told him that i am not a member of a church and he looked at me in shock, like i had committed a crime. of course, he was really trying to recruit me into his new church which is being held---you ready for this--in a fulton county elementary school on sundays and wednesdays. i asked him how he pulled that off with the whole seperation of church and state law. his response was simply, "well i work for teh school system." that sounds fishy!! he's got flyers and everything, though.

it still fascinates me that people still assume that everyone is christian. no one asks, "are you christian?" the popular question here is "what church do you go to?"

-A Peaceful Journey

Muata said...

Reader SP Responds:

Tithing to me is with how you treat yourself, and others with respect. What about helping others. What about money for gas, food, and what about helping the homeless instead of tithing. What about what I do everyday on my job with these needy students emotionally, socially with my money. I think that counts. The Bible is well and good for its time and today, but we must use common sense while thanking God. We must pay our bills. The church can not pay and will not pay all of my bills. Let's be real.


Muata said...

Reader Respones:

This was deep!


Man, you keep stabbing the Christians. Stop!!


You going to HELL!!!!!!!!!


Muata said...

Reader EJ responds:

The funny part is....Christians go through the same thing that everybody else goes through....No evidence that stating that they are "blessed and highly favored" has provided them with some sort of shelter from the worlds problems and situations. We all have the same issues regardless if you believe or not. I guess you have to die in order to receive the blessings......but while you are here you will be "normal". How convenient.


Muata said...

Muata Responds to EJ:

News Flash:


This scripture was written by a man. It was written and mandated for HIM (the writer of the text) or some other 'leader' at the time to receive the 10 percent (in whatever form). God did not say this crap! A man did!! We need to view the bible from a logical perspective and stop interpreting it in a literal and faith lense sense. If one takes this approach they should view ALL of the bible that way. Yes, this means accepting the text when God mandates/sanctions murder. Accept it all, or leave it alone!


Muata said...

Reader Responds:

You know I always hesistate to respond to these questions because you & I operate on different definitions of our Chrisitian walk. But I will share - Smile...

For me - Tithing is not a bill. It is an effort to teach God's people about exercising the gift of Faith. I am not a "religious" person but a spiritual person. I believe in tithing - NOT TO SEE WHAT I CAN GET - but to show God that I do believe in HIM and have FAITH in His Promises. I have faith and believe in tithing - not because of what I think GOD WILL RETURN TO ME OR CAN BUY & GET FOR ME IN THIS "materialistic" world we live in BUT because I chose to believe in a God whose Word and Promises have NEVER FAILED ME OR LET ME DOWN.

My failures or challenges in life have been due to my own disobedience or lack of faith to WAIT on God's guidance & wisdom. Again - MY JOURNEY.
What I face can't be a definition for the whole Body of Christ of believers. And if you or others decide it is not for you - so be it. But KNOW, worldly opinions and discussions rarely change a true believer's walk. The devil tries everyday. So, those who try are working with an expert. Smile..

In regards to the Preachers/Pastors - yes there are those who are money hungry. But there are those that teach the tithe principal becuase it is a good lesson about Faith and Trust; AND, because tithing is the ONLY act of faith in the bible where God offers the believer the opportunity to test Him. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ or a believer in God's word - then the whole tithing challenge would not apply.

God bless and thanks for sharing and hearing back...

-Rev. J

FREEDOM said...

Lately, I have been listening to some phenomenal Afro/Afri-centric scholars. Dr. Amos Wilson is the most profound to me. He was an Afro-centric psychologist who wrote the book entitled "Black Power". He also wrote several other books about black on black violence, several books on the development of the black child and he also leave a legacy of several lectures recordings of him. His teachings, especially the book "Black Power" maps out Afrikan-Americans and Afrikans all over this world pulling and pooling together to economical help ourselves to move from under this oppressed domination that Europeans still have over us.

There is NO REASON in this world Brian that your mother should go without anything! Especially, since she has been a faithful tither. We as blacks have to stop seducing or tolerating the notion that God will not help us. In fact, you would think that we would awaken to responsible to help ourselves like our ancestors did when they KNEW THAT THE ONLY SOMEONE'S THAT THEY COULD DEPEND ON WAS EACH OTHER. And, why is that? Because God designed it that way. We with our beautiful black images were birth from a Mighty God and great leader and teacher and Savior Jesus who is guess what? BLACK!

works through people (us) and we are extensions of him. Therefore we are Afrikans who have a duty to take care of our own communities, children, families, and preserve our culture that was beaten out of us and misinformed in us. Taking back our communities and getting rid of a liquor store on each corner to drown away the hurt, the pain, and depression of our current state of affairs. We have to own the business in our neighbor so that we can employ our own people so that our people will have another choice besides stealing to feed their families and selling drugs to pay their bills because society will not allow them to work honestly because of the hatred and fear that they still have towards Black Men.

For years the great scholars (Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, E. Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Dr. Amos Wilson name a few) have told us to take care of our own and to stop depending on another race of people who hate us to take care of us the way we want them too.

So, what I am saying if we are obedient to the Word of God then we must us that Word to empower our Afrikan people all over the world to unite. To pool our resources together and to take care of our own people economically. If that means us car pooling with one another or taking public transportation we must do it to save ourselves! God has shown use the way through many prophets, yet like in ancient time we still refuse to LISTEN!

We as Afrikan Americans and Afrikans must learn our history and build our own afri-centric educational centers to arm our people with true knowledge of SELF and employment, build schools for our children, and go to churches that tell the truth that God/Yahweh and Jesus has a black face as they do and build an vital economy that will demand a vital for Afrikan people all over this world. Black folks PLEASE do not forget that we are Afrikan!

We must take the plight as Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, W.E.D Dubois, Dr. Amos Wilson and others did to help our own people and our own communities. Our communities are so bad because we have allowed every Tom, Dick and Harpo to come into our communities and rape and murder our people to shut them out economically. We must start owning the businesses in our neighborhoods, and stop letting non-Afrikan people rob our communities of not employing us yet walking away with all our monetary resources. They don't use guns to rob us we willing give them our money day after day.

In the book "Black Power" by Dr. Amos Wilson he told of a Black Pastor that had a congregation. Most of his members were on welfare except about eight (forgot the man's name), but with the food stamps that his members were getting that congregation put their stamps together and opened a food market in their own church to help them. Then they went on to purchase their own grocery store.

You can't tell me that the church, if it really understood the POWER that it has can't make a significant different in the lives of its people. The power of organizing and how powerful they really are thru a black God/Yahweh, thru a black Jesus. If we actually took the tithe money, offering, building fund, benevolent offering money, special programs money and taught from a pure Afri-centric teaching associating God and Jesus with black faces how much of an impact we can do for ourselves while still trusting and being obedient to God. We would really help our people, our communities, while building a strong economy for our people so that they will not rob their fellow man that has black faces like them.

The schools and many churches are not going to really give our Afrikan people a true sense of self until we study our roots our history. We as Afrikan people had and still have our God before we were shipped here by the Europeans. We must study HISTORY! The library has a wealth of knowledge that is FREE! You will have access to so much knowledge by only using your library card.

I just saw a documentary the other day on "Ethical Notions" of how Hollywood portrayed blacks in the media through movies, cartoons, advertisement of products and song and dance. For slavery as some happy Negroes glad that had a masta' to watch over them. It was disgusting. There was actually merchandise that was sold called nigger hair (a tobacco product). Songs song by white men singing about a good slave "Good ole Darkie went to the Heaven that good ole Darkies Go". Also, the most racist movie ever produced that rejuvenated the KKK on against black folks "The Birth of a Nation" under President Woodrow Wilson's watch.

If we as a Nation of Afrikan people all over the world learn Afrikan history and American History (not what's just taught in schools....ha!), but documentaries and books about American history towards black to maintain supreme domination over us Afrikan-Americans and Afrikans along with studying other cultures and their history besides African history. Talk about being enlighten! Then, in return use some of these mental techniques and economical strategies that were used against us towards our enemies to combat the ills that have successfully been used against us. We as a people would be in a position of Power to help Ourselves. YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN GUARANTEED!

If we teach our people history (all of it) I guarantee Mrs. Momma Payne WILL NEVER have to choose between paying her tithes or her bills again!

I am starting to truly study and understand the brainwashing that so many of us blacks are/have suffered through white supremacy dominating our MINDS.

Like the song says, "Free Your Mind and the Rest WILL FOLLOW"!!!

Peace & Love,


Sorry for the length. I just had a moment of Epiphany!

Muata said...

Reader Response:

wow, thats deep and I like it! I don't think it will reach the right people though.

My only hope:

Choose wisely!


Muata said...

Reader Responds:

This scripture to me speaks to a universal law. The law of giving...which can be summed up by saying "you get what you give". In order for you to receive you must give. My grandmother used to say "a closed fist can receive no money". If we are so busy clutching tightly to our money then we prevent ourselves from receiving money too. The same principal will be restated in the bible, don't ask me what verse...but it says "it is better to give than to receive".

Although it sounds like God is saying give to him. I believe he's speaking in general. Just give. Give to your church, to people, to charities, etc. But most importantly just give.

These blessing that you will get in return could be money or it could be happiness, love, friendship, etc. It doesn't mean if you give money you'll get money in return.

God spoke to them in things they understood. He spoke in things that were most valuable to them...their cattle, food, etc. To put that same scripture in todays context God wouldn't ask for cattle but he would ask that we give not only our money, but our time, talents, love, knowledge, etc. Imagine if everybody gave 10% of the above how better off the world would be.

So while I'd like some more money to fill up my tank, I do realize that I have received so many other blessing in so many other ways that being a little short on gas is minor relatively speaking.

My point is look at the lesson gained from the scripture not so much the verbatim text in the scripture.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

I hate to be the voice of dissension because I think I get what you're trying to say. However, there is a flaw in your analogy. So if it was your desire to show a similarity between like features of two or more things (God and a bank or a bookie) and thereby bring a certain practical level of enlightenment or understanding to those who read your post, I must respectfully inform you that you have missed the mark. You can't compare God to a bank or a bookie because the relationship is incorrect. Here's why:

1 - The term bank as you use it is too general to serve your purpose. A bank gives you a loan or credit card based on your credit history. (I'll come back to this one).
2 - A bookie doesn't care if you have credit. He simply accepts and pays off bets.

So let's forget the notion that God is a bookie. Since the relationship is not similar, it doesn't support your argument. If you must compare Him to a bank, then you must be more specific - a credit card issuing bank would be a better choice. Let's just make it even simpler and say God is like a Visa and pretend with this analogy. God is to the tither as Visa is to the credit card holder. I believe this is a stronger analogy as the relationship is clearer and makes more sense. So let's begin again. If one pays his Visa bill on time every month for 40 years, should a problem arise and he asks that his line of credit be extended, it is reasonably safe to assume that the request will be met. If one pays but is sometimes late, sometimes early, with no real commitment to the terms of agreement, then one may have to then prove he is deserving of more credit by a period of on-time payments. If one doesn't pay on time or rarely pays, there are consequences and there is no reason to believe that more credit will be given.

So it is reasonably safe to assume that loyal tithers have seen the promise of God in action and will be able to meet their needs. (I think faithful tither would be a better distinction so I’ll continue with that). Furthermore, it stands to reason that people who tithe faithfully are likely to spend their money more efficiently because they don't even factor in that 10%. They know it's not theirs anyway and they are rewarded as God has promised. The scripture you site essentially says God wants us to test Him. If we give 10%, then we will be blessed. I don't quite see how God is a bully in this instance but you are entitled to your opinion. If we are to hold God's word as absolute, then the faithful tither won't have to choose between tithing and paying bills because God promises to reward him with bountiful blessings. Similarly, if one pays his Visa bill on time every month, he has a reasonable expectation that should the need arise; his credit will be extended.

Therefore, your analogy of God to a bank as you use it isn’t quite right because if one is a faithful tither, he will see the promise of God. Consequently he will not have to choose between tithing and paying bills unless the matters are unrelated which is another topic.

Your argument begs the question: are you a faithful tither?

If one isn’t a faithful tither then blessings shouldn’t necessarily be expected. Just like one would not necessarily expect Visa to extend a line a credit. One can hope but can’t be sure.

I understand that these are trying times. I am making no judgment on what an individual should do. But if you are encouraging Christians to “call God on the carpet,” so to speak, one must examine one’s own obedience. Of the many things the scripture informs us about God, there is no question that obedience is fundamental. If one chooses not to be obedient, then one should not necessarily expect the promises of God. In the same sense, if we don’t comply with the terms of the agreement, we cannot reasonably expect Visa to extend our line of credit.

Tithe or pay bills then becomes less of an issue of making that choice and more of an issue about the kind of Christian one wants to be.

Please bear in mind that I am only addressing the validity of your argument and the use of the sited scripture and given analogy that you use to prove your point.

If you're saying that God should cut Christians some slack cause they're doing the best they can and He knows that they are imperfect beings with a sinful nature to begin with, you may want to use a different analogy.

I look forward to your thoughts.


Muata said...

Muata responds to SD:

Thanks for responding and pointing out what you believe to be a flaw with my analogy.

"Missed the mark"

Perhaps, I have to you - and I am certain a few others will point out what they believe to be a flaw. However, I humbly believe that I have made the point that I intended.

Let it be known that I am not trying to "prove" anything. The purpose of all my commentaries are to stimulate critical thought that will hopefully lead to a productive discussion.

Do I tithe?

No, not to a church. I do not subject myself to adhering to the bible as some scripture requires/mandates. If I did there are a few commandments/directives from God that I would have to follow through on that are actually hateful, discriminatory, against the law, and down right wrong. Most of us gloss over those scripture!

But, my life has been one of service: YMCA, Peace Corps, Goodwill Industries International, and so much more that reflects a life of giving and sharing with the needed. With this, I wonder if God will 'punish' me because I have not 'respected' Malachi 3:6-10????

I really appreciate your input.