I found out that God exists when I was about 8 years old, through a supernatural healing. A few years later, I went to a Christian camp for kids, and we heard how Jesus died for our sins so we could be clean and right with God, and then rose again so we could have victory and be free from the power of sin. It felt like the atmosphere was heavy with God’s glory. I and other children wept as God revealed his love to us. Soon after, I was born-again and found peace.
I started sleeping with my Bible under my pillow so I would remember to read it the next day. I had already read nearly all the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time when I was 7 years old, and had never gotten the idea from the Bible that a Christian was supposed to tithe. After all, there were so many other various sacrifices and regulations along with the tithe, and the New Testament said plenty of things like these:
Romans 7:6 (NRSV) “But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.”
Romans 10:4 (NRSV) “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Ephesian 2:15 (NKJV) “…having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances.”
Colossians 2:14 (NKJV) “…having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
I’d read about the tithe more than once in the books of the law, along with many boring rituals, animal sacrifices, and regulations that I didn’t understand. Since I was 7 years old, I knew the priest’s clothes could not have wool in them, men couldn’t shave the sides of their faces, they had to kill a lot of animals, and men had to get cut where it hurt and suffer for days so they could be in covenant with God! So of course, I wondered why the tithe was different than any of the other things in the Old Testament that we didn’t do anymore.
In church, I heard the teaching that the tithe wasn’t just another Hebrew law but was the way we made a covenant with God. Abraham tithed before the law, and then God made him rich! Yet I’d never gotten the impression before when I read the Bible that God made Abraham rich because of his tithe. He was rich before his tithe. And what was the big deal about Abraham tithing before the law? He also sacrificed animals on an altar and was circumcised before the law.
My parents taught me to tithe on my allowance as a kid, and I heard a lot about the importance of tithing in church as a young teenager. My grandmother, who gave me my first Bible, was a tither. I wanted so much to please God and do what was right, and since people I respected told me so much about tithing, I figured it must be important.
I heard the teaching that our tithe belongs to God, and to withhold it is robbing God. I heard that the church was the storehouse and you had to give a tenth of your money to the church and you also had to give offerings. You could give offerings wherever you wanted, but the tithe had to go to the local church. Giving to missions and to the poor only came after your tithe.
You could also be guilty of robbing God if you didn’t give enough in offerings, since scripture commands us to give to the poor and missions as well as tithing. After all, Malachi said the people robbed God “in tithes and offerings.” I heard that you would be under a curse for robbing God if you didn’t tithe, but if you did, the floodgates of heaven would open. They said we couldn’t test God in anything else, but we could test him by tithing.
Malachi 3:8-11 “’Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, “How are we robbing you?”
In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
I started making money during a brief period of living in the utter despondence of guilt and condemnation, afraid I had committed the unforgiveable sin and lost my salvation. I went to New York to work for three weeks when I was 12 years old, and then I started delivering newspapers. I was a generous kid, although perhaps not so wise with my hard-earned money. I often blew most of it buying soda, ice cream, and snacks for all the kids in the neighborhood.
Then that year Anne and Charles Stock, who had been to the Toronto Airport church, held revival meetings at our church. God touched me, and I wept as I felt his love come on me physically and tangibly. I remember the sound of other people’s weeping mixed with laughter as they felt the joy of being reconciled to God. Soon after I went on a mission trip and determined once and for all that I wanted to be a missionary and live my whole life for Jesus.
I never would have thought up all the reasoning I’d heard about tithing from reading the Bible for myself as a child, but I wanted very much to make sure I was doing the right thing. I was now reading a chapter of Proverbs every day, and Proverbs really enforced the importance of being teachable, submitting to my parents and to elders, and listening to wisdom. I had repented from the sin of rebellion, and I never wanted to go back to it. I wanted to be a missionary and live for Jesus. So even though I didn’t quite get the tithing thing, I thought “better to be safe than sorry!” After all, I didn’t see anything wrong with tithing, and I figured it was a way of showing I honored God!
Since I’d been a shoplifter when I was younger, I thought it right to go back to the stores I’d stolen from and make restitution before I would think about a tithe. I first did that with money from my paper route, going from one store to another, confessing my sin, and offering them money for approximately the value that I thought I’d stolen from them. Boy was that scary, but I felt so much better after doing it!
After that, I began to tithe faithfully. I wanted to do it as worship to God, and did it with joy, giving offerings to missions on top of it. It wasn’t hard for the first few years, because I was a kid and didn’t have any real expenses.
As I grew older, I began to go on many mission trips and see Jesus do marvelous things. I finished school and started working in construction when I was 17. Soon after, some difficult times came. After returning from a trip to Belize, I had to support the family for a time. (My parents fully reimbursed me for this some years later.) I was 18. In the year I began to support the family, I only made about $14,000. It felt like there were holes in my pockets and something always went wrong just when I thought I was going to have enough.
I didn’t understand why it felt like I was financially cursed, because I was tithing. Could it be that I was robbing God in offerings as well? Malachi said they robbed him in “tithes and offerings.” I did give to missions and other causes on top of my tithe. I wanted to give even more to other causes, but I didn’t because my tithe came first. Maybe the windows of heaven weren’t being opened because I was robbing God in offerings by being stingy with my offerings on top of the tithe, because I didn’t trust God and was afraid of not having enough. Maybe tithing wasn’t working for me because I wasn’t cheerful enough and I worried about having enough when I gave.
But I kept deciding to stand firm and test God with my tithe, believing he would open the windows of heaven. I still felt guilty, because I felt like the problem couldn’t be on God’s side and I must not have enough faith if I had lack. I was trying to have faith. I was stressed about money all the time, and there were several times that my bank account overdrew over some little thing, adding bank fees to the financial burden.
When I was about 20, I had an experience with God in which I began to understand the incarnation. I saw Jesus in such a way that I felt like I had barely known who he was and barely understood the Gospel before. My life began to be marked more and more by miracles and supernatural healing.
During this time, the IRS audited me and questioned if I had really supported the family to be able to take the deductions I claimed. I believed I should have sufficient evidence, but it was not enough for them! This legal struggle continued for several years. I kept encouraging myself and holding on and declaring victory, and I got a CPA who said he believed we could win this case.
Up to and during my second trip to Russia, the manifestation of God’s glory increased greatly. I had become so aware of God’s presence that if felt like currents of love flowing through my mouth and hands, and I could feel his glory like a weight that rested on me. At times I would stretch out my hand and tangibly feel currents, like electricity, flowing out. When I prayed for someone, I often know what physical problems they had without them telling me, and they were healed. For weeks at a time, if felt like I was in heaven, daily feeling God’s glory in a way that was physically tangible and seeing people healed.
Not long after the second trip to Russia, the IRS send me a notice of a lean on my house, saying I owed them over $14,000. The penalties and interest had so inflated the amount that it was more than I’d even earned during one of the years in question!
I had bought that house when I was 22, spending about $2,500 to close the deal. It wasn’t even habitable when I bought it, but I began fixing it up and I moved in. I had worked so hard for the house and now I could lose it if I didn’t pay $14,000!
It was so hard for me that I was sick in the stomach and couldn’t sleep because of the stress. I threw myself even more into healing the sick. I felt like I was rich because Jesus lived in me and I could touch people and they would be healed, and I knew that the IRS could take all my money and possessions away, but they couldn’t take Jesus away or stop me from healing people. Ministering healing helped me to deal with the stress by getting my focus off of myself and my own problems.
I had believed the CPA was working for me, but I realized he had completely dropped my case and stopped talking to the IRS, yet was still giving me hope and telling me we could win the case. While this was going on fees and interest were accruing. It had been years of one setback after another, and this felt like the needle on the top of the haystack.
It became a matter of paying my bills or paying the tithe. I had by that time come to think that the tithe was extremely important, and I had fears that I was backsliding if I didn’t pay my tithe. I had been taught that the tithe was “first fruits” and should be paid before anything else as a sign of trusting in God. I had been led to believe that to not tithe was to be a thief and steal from God.
However, what could I do? I knew God was real and I loved him. Scripture also said to owe nobody anything except for the continuing debt to love each other, that the borrower is the slave to the lender, and if you are a slave and can get your freedom, do so. Would it honor God if I paid a tithe and didn’t pay my electric bill? Was I sinning no matter what I did in that situation?
I was at the point in my heart where I could no longer tithe. I had no strength left. I’d tried to believe and test God with my tithe, but maybe my faith had failed. I still knew he was real and good. After being healed and seeing him heal so many people, there was no doubt of that.
The year before, my Christian accountant had just told me how blessed I would surely be for how high of a percentage of my income I gave. And I had just challenged the church in Russia to tithe as I took the offering.
I stopped tithing. I wasn’t sure if I was sinning or not when I did, but ironically, it felt like the windows of heaven opened when I stopped tithing. I got some good-paying side jobs and relief came from the financial distress. It was as if God was saying “I’m not condemning you and I care about your situation.” For so long when I was tithing, it felt like there were holes in my pockets.
When I stopped tithing, I struggled with feeling like I no longer had the same boldness to approach the Father. I had been living in such bliss and joy! But now it felt like I was being a disobedient Christian and wasn’t right with God. Was I now cut off from that joy and glory because I didn’t feel like it was right to tithe and not pay the electric bill, after having tithed “by faith” before and ending up with an overdrawn bank account?
Yet my heart was the same! I still loved the Lord with all my heart and I still wanted to give just as much. My heart burned to see people being healed and meeting Jesus. God knew my situation and it wouldn’t honor him to pay a tithe and not pay my bills on time.
I told only a few people. My two closest friends were shocked when they heard I stopped tithing. They fully knew the circumstances, yet acted as if they thought I was backsliding and my relationship with the Lord was falling apart. Their reaction was very difficult for me. I would not have expected a reaction like that from them at all! I thought, “Is this really what God’s heart is like? It can’t be.”
This made me start thinking more and more. I started to really question. Why should this tithe thing affect my relationship with God in such a way? Is my salvation and communion with God based on a tithe, or on the blood of Jesus? Scripture said I could approach the Father with boldness and confidence because of Jesus’s work, not because I’d paid a tithe.
The Christians around me would have NEVER said that you were saved by the tithe. They would have called that error. Yet in all practicality, they acted as if you were saved by it. This was especially clear to me as I’d come to think of salvation as so much more than simply a ticket to heaven. It included healing, wholeness, peace with God, and full access to the Father. I knew many other Christians around me would also be ashamed to approach the Father or walk in intimacy with him if they hadn’t paid their tithes. And wasn’t paying for intimacy called prostitution?
I would have NEVER said I was saved by tithing, yet now, after walking in such glory, I felt ashamed to approach God without a tithe. I was also shocked at the reaction of some Christians close to me when I told them I was not tithing now.
I’d already pushed aside so many questions throughout the years. But many people whom God had used greatly in my life taught strongly about the importance of the tithe. I was afraid to say they might be wrong. I lived for a time at an in-between stage, where I had more and more questions, yet I was still afraid to ask them. I started to see great arrogance and judgment in my interactions with many Christians, directed to anyone who was having a financial struggle. They were always accused of being bad stewards or doing something wrong.
I had not thought the people making such judgments were like that at all, but it seemed that a demonic force took hold of them when they talked about someone who was having financial difficulty. This was all connected to their views on tithing. If the person didn’t tithe, they must be struggling because they were cursed for not tithing. If they were tithing and still having difficulty, they must be a bad steward in some other way or not be giving enough over the tithe, or be tithing with the wrong attitude, or be spending too much.
It was like there was no possibility of admitting that someone could be trying to do the best they knew how, to honor God and be a good steward of their money, yet go through financial lack. What about the apostle Paul, who at times was hungry and thirsty and without clothing? Was he in need because of lack of faith or poor stewardship?
I would have never thought of most Christians around me as “radicals” on prosperity teaching. When they were themselves, they would deny they believed all financial difficulty was the result of someone’s irresponsibility. It was as if they did not remember the things they had said, or the judgments they had made, as if it had been a different person who spoke so judgmentally about people struggling financially. I had noted before that having no recollection of something you just said or did is often a manifestation of demonic activity, and it felt like I was bumping into a demonic stronghold of self-righteousness.
I not only had serious questions about the validity of teaching the tithe in itself, but I also began to see by the words and behavior of many people that in practicality they regarded the tithe as necessary to approach God. I was hearing so much judgment and arrogance from the mouths of people I never would have expected it from!
Situations I saw brought more questions. I saw that some others felt like they were falling away from the Lord if they missed a tithe to pay their bills. I knew a widow who, although she was careful with money, had been through hard circumstances and was deep in debt. She felt bad that she couldn’t pay the whole tithe, yet her family needed to live and buy food. I thought “Is this the gospel?”
People were slandering her saying that she was having trouble because she was being a poor steward of her money. I read my Bible again and thought “Wasn’t the tithe in the Old Testament shared with widows and those in need?” Why was it something that was now used to curse and condemn and burden the poor, instead of helping them? It seemed that even the principle of this “tithe” was so different than the principle of the tithe I had read about under the law!
I was still afraid of making a fuss over this matter. So many people whom I had thought highly of had taught tithing, but more and more serious questions were presenting themselves to me. I put them aside but they would keep surfacing again. I saw something come over even some of the people I thought most highly of who had taught tithing. They were normally wonderful people, but when it came to discussing tithing or giving, they became uncharacteristically angry and judgmental. They weren’t themselves.
I went to a seminar on church planting with YWAM church planting coach Brian Hogan. He talked about lightening the burden of what we call “church” that we bring to other cultures, stripping off all of our Western ideas of what church is and looking at the essentials of what the Biblical model really is. One of the things he mentioned was the tithe. He said “We don’t teach tithing. We teach giving and generosity.”
Brian said that the tithe was under the law, but giving is under grace. He also said that if they had taught tithing to the churches they planted, the people would have actually given less. Grace can accomplish more than the law ever can!
Many questions had been growing in my heart, but there was an underlying fear that only lukewarm Christians questioned tithing. Hearing Brian speak showed me there were on-fire Christians on the front lines of the gospel who didn’t believe in tithing. It helped me to overcome the fear of asking questions so I could be honest with myself about the issue.
Finally, some months later, something clicked! As I read Galatians, I realized the circumcision issue which the early church struggled with was identical to the tithe issue of today. Everything Paul wrote in reply to the circumcision faction was just as applicable. It was a deadly error!
I wrote a list of 32 questions about the tithe and showed them to people close to me. Nobody could answer them in support of tithing. Several people close to me changed their positions when they saw my questions and examined what the Bible said. My parents, who had taught me tithing, said “Wow, you’re right. We can’t support the idea that the tithe is for today, or that the Bible teaches anything for Christians but generous giving as we are able and willing.”
Now being convinced that the tithe as I had been taught was really at odds with justification by faith, I took the list of 32 questions to my pastor. My concerns had to do with the very foundations of my faith and essential gospel matters that I could not in good conscience ignore. He didn’t attempt to give anything more than weak answers to one or two of my questions, but he said how much he disagreed and “we can no longer support your ministry.” It was so painful, as this was the church that lit and fueled the fire for missions in my heart; that prayed for me when I went on mission trips. I was totally “ruined” for anything but being a missionary and seeing people healed by Jesus. I’d invested everything into it.
If it was just about getting my church to back me, I could have easily said “OK, I believe in tithing.” But I couldn’t lie to myself. Truth has always been vital to me, and this was about much more than the amount we have to give. It really boiled down to justification. Everybody would deny that, but it was the main issue to me. Did I receive the blessing and get included in God’s family by giving a tenth of my income, or by hanging my life on Christ?
Many unbelievers were being healed and experiencing supernatural signs as I prayed for them and talked about Jesus. I saw about 20 New-Agers healed in just one day and shared the gospel with them. I would weep because I wanted to bring the gospel to more people. At the time, I had an invitation from Muslim friends to visit them and stay in their house for a few months. It was a country in Central Asia where Christianity is illegal and many people have never heard the gospel. I’d already shared the gospel with them, and Jesus healed one of them from chronic stomach pain. She felt a heat come on her belly as I prayed, and the pain left.
I knew that if I went, their family members and friends would be healed. I had the invitation and I wouldn’t have to pay for food or lodging while I was there. I spoke enough Russian (their second language) to pray for people and talk about Jesus. I was willing to risk the danger of going there. If I got caught proselytizing, I would likely be kicked out of the country for sharing the gospel rather than imprisoned as a native might be. What could be a better opportunity than this to bring the gospel to those who hadn’t heard it? But I would have had to pay my travel and pay the mortgage on the house when I was gone. I was broke after returning from a 7-week mission trip and a 3-week trip after that. I regretted buying a house. I struggled, feeling like maybe I just needed to have more faith for finances.
I was in a position that few others were in to bring the gospel to a nation closed to evangelism, but if felt like my hopes of ever receiving missionary support were nearly crushed. My pastor would not even ask the church to stand behind me in prayer. Even on the applications for short-term mission trips I’d taken, they always asked if I was a tither. I had proudly checked the box “Yes.” I still fellowshipped at church, but now I could only have spectator status, on probation as a supposedly “disobedient Christian.” (I’m so glad I didn’t also get pulled away from working with the youth.) What could I do? This was no longer a matter of if I gave more or less than 10%. It was a matter of conscience. How could I lie to myself about a matter that was so clear, or accept a means to obtaining God’s blessing other than faith in Christ?
After I got married, I moved to Brazil in spite of great difficulty. A scaffold collapsed under me. I was bedridden for several weeks and only made about $15,000 that year. There was one problem after another. I spend thousands on the move and documents. I couldn’t legally work in Brazil when I first came here. I understand why the Israelites shared their tithe with the foreigners in their land.
I had maintained a connection with believers when I was in the US, but I had very little trust for churches in Brazil and didn’t believe they would accept me because of my beliefs. (Which were and continue to be quite orthodox, but do not include tithing.) I continued to minister healing to neighbors and people I met, but I sometimes worried that they might end up worse if I sent them to a church.
After a few years, I started attending a small Baptist church that was marked strongly by sincere love with no manipulation. I could feel from a distance that it was different, before I even attended. I felt a glory there that I didn’t often feel in many charismatic churches, but which reminded me of how I encountered God’s love when I first got saved. I felt like I could start giving there because the pastor was not teaching tithing, and I didn’t feel like I was only welcome if I paid my dues.
In 2015 and 2016, I started writing the books God had put on my heart years before. As I wrote, I felt God’s glory coming on my body tangibly again as I had before. I wrote with many tears. God softened my heart, bringing me back to a place of joy, and restoring me to the commission he’d given me to encourage pastors. He brought me back to a place of thanksgiving for the church and focusing first on the work of the Holy Spirit in the congregations, rather than focusing on things that need to change. I turned from self-pity to living in love, and I saw an increase in miracles again, even over Facebook messenger.
I also started teaching a group of Christians weekly, and for about a year I got a word of knowledge for healing for every new person that visited (to the best of my memory), and they were healed. I made friends with some pastors in Brazil, and I’ve prayed for them and wept and rejoiced at seeing what God was doing in their congregations. In the few times I’ve gotten to speak to groups of Christians here, more than once I was not aware of anybody who asked for healing ministry and left without being healed.
We took in Edgar, an old man who was being robbed, and cared for him until he died. We faced death and kidnapping threats for helping him. Some of my Facebook friends rallied to help us care for Edgar’s needs during that time. I had to lift him by the armpits and help my father in law to bathe him, clean his poop, and change his diaper. I vomited more than once because of the smell, but I had great joy in helping the old man. At times during the last few years I felt so hard-pressed that I didn’t know if I would live or die. I resolved that as long as I lived, I wanted to live for Jesus.
When I was visiting the US in 2017, I met with the pastor of the church that had been my home congregation in the US. I had never stopped attending there until I moved to Brazil. I shared our difficulties and asked him to agree to disagree about the tithe, but to put us on the prayer list with the other missionaries. He said they couldn’t join with me in that way if I didn’t believe in tithing.
I was working hard, risking my life and using my resources to help an old man, facing a kidnapping threat against my daughter, seeing Jesus heal people on the street, at the snack bar, in their homes, and in church, but often at the end of my rope. Yet he still seemed to think I was a stingy and disobedient Christian, and I couldn’t persuade him to put us on the prayer list!
I know many of the people in the congregation would have loved to pray for us, and I’m so thankful for all the Facebook friends who prayed for us and helped us to care for Edgar. I even think that the assistant pastor would have agreed to pray for us as missionaries if I’d talked to him first.
I just wanted to preach and strengthen the churches, but my job teaching English via the internet is mostly at night and on weekends. I was barely ever able to attend Baptist church on Sundays. I wanted my wife to no longer have to leave early in the morning for work, face highway robberies, and come home late at night. I wanted my daughter to have time with her mom. I wanted to prosper and have more to give to ministries I believe in. So, we borrowed money, promising to pay it back with the sale of my house in the US, and opened a franchise here in Brazil. It was a kiosk in the mall, and the financial statements we had received showed that it was already making a small monthly profit.
As we were opening the franchise in late 2017, I was visiting the US and several people gave strong prophesies about financial justice. I thought it meant that God was restoring us with the business we were opening. Now I think it was because God saw that we were in the process of being robbed.
We had a great struggle to keep the business open and got more and more in debt to pay the bills. I hadn’t imagined it could lose money so fast! We took out loans to convert the kiosk to a store so as to offer more services. After over a year, some friends in the US prayed for us. My eyes opened, and I realized the kiosk was not viable when we bought it. The salesperson had lied to us.
I went to the shopping center and asked for the figures the business had reported to them before we bought it. Their figures were almost 10,000 reais per month lower than the financial statements the salesperson had shown me before we bought the business. Contrary to the balance sheets the franchise had shown us, the shopping center’s figures showed that the business had been losing money quickly. When I saw this, I thought I had a solid case for criminal fraud, but unfortunately it is often difficult to get justice through Brazil’s legal system.
I started emailing the franchise with questions, and they soon sent me financial figures for the months before we bought the business – including months their salesperson had told us they didn’t have figures for, due to a robbery. Thus, the franchise itself proved to me that their salesperson had lied by giving me information their representative had told us was unavailable before we purchased the business.
I had heard the franchise founder was a Christian and a God-fearing woman, so I sent her a respectful message on Facebook showing the evidence of wrong, such as differing financial statements, pleading for help, and asking her to meet with us at their headquarters, a four-hour drive from our house. The franchise had also forced us to use an out-of-state architecture firm which did not send anybody personally to see the location of the store they were doing a blueprint for. The blueprint was full of errors which had cost us many thousands of reais, putting us deep in debt and increasing the cost of the job about 50,000 reais over what was estimated. We brought it with us to show the errors.
I asked her to help us in view of the situation, since the franchise had caused us great financial damage. I thought it could very well be possible that she really was a God-fearing person. If so, she would certainly help us, seeing that her salesperson had lied to us and the franchises’ errors ate up our remaining capital. We were already way behind on what we owed the franchise, and they were calling my wife all the time to collect on past-due franchise fees.
The franchise owner responded nicely and said she would certainly be there, but she was not there when we arrived. We reminded her staff that we drove four hours to be there because the franchise founder had promised to be at the meeting, so they contacted her and said she was coming later.
We had the meeting, showing the evidence of fraud, showing the blueprint for the store which was all wrong, and playing an audio clip of the manager who was there before we purchased the business, saying the problem was always lack of movement and sometimes the place only attended to one or two people a day. (It would have had to average well over twenty people a day to have made the figures in the financial reports we’d seen.) The staff’s eyes were wide when they heard the audio clip, but nobody responded.
Then the founder of the franchise entered. She refused to hear any of our complaints, although I had sent her the evidence earlier. She put all the blame on us and on our manager for the business failing, then promised very nicely to help us.
At the end, she sent everyone else out to have a personal meeting with us, saying she was speaking no longer as a businessperson but as a fellow believer. The first thing she said was that she had been in the same position, and God showed her that her tithe wasn’t right and her relationship with her husband wasn’t right, and she would never prosper until she got those things right. And so, she told us that we would never prosper until we got our marriage and our tithe right.
How did she know if we were tithing or anything about our marriage? Do you see the depth of deception and self-righteousness? One of the greatest deceptions in the church is that people’s standing with God can be measured by their financial position. This lady’s franchise had lied and defrauded us in the sale of the business and then directly caused many thousands of reais in losses with the blueprint and construction. Nevertheless, she assumed her financial standing was evidently God’s blessing because of her tithe, and our struggle obviously must mean we were not tithing.
Her response, unfortunately, is all too similar to the response of many staunch tithers when I tell them that I believe the Biblical pattern is generosity that is not under compulsion or of necessity. It is immediate judgment, as if the only reasons one could not believe in tithing are lack of faith, lack of commitment to God, being a freeloader, or stinginess.
Few seem to be willing to seriously engage with what scripture actually says about the subject, or to even be aware that there have been many Christians who have given generously and risked their lives for the gospel without believing in tithing.
I confronted the franchise owner and someone else in her business more directly, calling out lies and injustices. We had been trying to sell the business for a low price to someone who didn’t have debt, so we could pay our employees. But instead of recognizing the injustice of the situation and helping us, the franchise just kept trying to make more money off the deal.
One lady came to my wife, asking her if it was true that she was selling the business because she was moving to the US to get married. What a preposterous fabrication the salesperson told her!
We had told the franchise we didn’t want them lying to sell our business and we had increased the number of clients enough through advertising so that it could be profitable for someone without debt. But the franchise’s salespeople continued to lie and defraud others, and the owner still thought she was blessed because of her tithe and we must not be right with God because of our financial straits.
How did she respond to my message which called out the lies and fraud directly and pleaded with her for justice? She blocked me on Facebook and the franchise threatened more fines.
I didn’t know what to do. I was in a new city and didn’t know Christians there, still working nights and weekends, but wanting to be involved in the church. I missed my new friend Pastor Jorge and other people in Rio. Our employees hadn’t received their full salary, and it cost even more to fire them. I thought I should have a solid legal case of fraud against the franchise, but my wife consulted with lawyers and they said that I could actually go to jail and they could charge me with fraud. When I declared my assets as we bought the business, I apparently must not have understood that I was only supposed to declare a house as an asset if it didn’t have a mortgage.
God has delivered me before and he will deliver me again. But judge for yourselves. Did I get in such a position because I stopped paying a tithe? Am I stingy? Do I just not know how to trust God? Or could it be that people’s hearts, love, and giving can’t be measured by a percentage? Could it be that some people are rich because of fraud, and some people are poor because of injustice?
Could it be that God judges by so much more than a percentage of our money, he sees our hearts, and giving could be risking your life to rescue an old man, then cleaning his poop and caring for him, not just money?
It could be going to minister healing to people when you don’t have money for the trip but love compels you. It could be buying diapers and milk for a homeless mother. And it could just be going into a very difficult situation because love is compelling you and you believe God sent you.
 Romans 13:8
 Proverbs 22:7
 1 Corinthians 7:21
 2 Corinthians 11:27
 Deuteronomy 14:28-19