The Wheat And The Tares
In the first article, “Tithing And Injustice,”I shared that until now I’ve held back from taking this on really directly in my blog or books. Part of it was that I needed to guard my heart as to what I was focusing on and stay in a place of thanksgiving for the church. But I think it was more than that.
I had initially come out really strongly about the tithe on my Facebook when I realized that it was identical to the error of the Galatians. That was around 2009. But I didn’t feel peace to keep doing so. People asked me to write a book about the tithe, but for years it felt like the Holy Spirit was stopping me. Then just a few weeks ago, I felt the peace in my heart to share.
Are You Ready To Hear?
My friend Stuart Morrisson commented that the Holy Spirit spoke to him about this issue in 2006, but said, “people aren’t nearly ready to hear it.” Even Jesus said, “I have more to say to you than you are ready to bear now.” These words of Jesus may have been related to the end of the Jewish system that they knew.
Now it seems that it is time. Many people’s hearts have been prepared to hear. In fact, some of my friends who once believed strongly in tithing have changed their position on it. Even Che Ahn of the revival alliance and Harvest Rock Church has reconsidered what he believed:
Wheat And Weeds
Matthew 13:24-30 (NIV) Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First, collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
This may not be the exact context of the passage, but the principle applies. Sometimes ministers who have sincere love and minister in God’s power get their roots entangled with weeds. Church history is full of revivalists and reformers who missed it big time in a certain area. Yet the Holy Sprit’s work in their lives was real. I really needed to learn to have eyes to see what God is doing and walk in constant thanksgiving for the church in order to avoid pulling up the wheat with the weeds. And sometimes, what is wheat and what is a weed becomes more evident as they mature.
Benny Hinn Speaks Up About Money
I was amazed to find that so soon after I felt peace to start writing on this topic, Benny Hinn made some strong statements about the prosperity gospel* which went viral. Now Benny Hinn didn’t say anything about the tithe and I don’t know if he’s ready to reconsider his position on that. But what he did say deals with the same underlying issues, which I wrote about in “I Have Anguish In My Heart For The Church.”
Here’s the video that went viral, followed by two interviews. If you don’t feel like watching them now, I’ll give you the main points below:
So here are a few things Benny said:
- He’s correcting his theology, and we need to know it. He doesn’t believe what he used to and he reads the Bible differently than he did twenty years ago.
- It’s an offense to the Holy Spirit to say “give $1000” or put a price on the gospel
- He has taken offerings like that before but he will never again do so because the Holy Spirit is “just fed up with it.” Doing so “hurts the gospel.”
- “If I hear one more time ‘break the back of debt with $1000’ I think I’m going to rebuke them. I think that’s buying the gospel, that’s buying the blessing, that’s grieving the Holy Spirit.”
- Benny said his statement has nothing to do with critics but with his own soul as he has been spending time with the Lord. He got distracted from his call and has grieved the Lord many times, and doesn’t want to get to heaven and be rebuked by God. He wants to be known as an evangelist, not as a prosperity teacher.
- “Give to get” theology has hurt Christians, and if you’re not giving because you love Jesus, don’t give. He heard people talking about giving and prosperity and thought “Where is Jesus in all this?”
I can’t say how much it filled my heart with joy to hear Benny speak. I see the Holy Spirit’s work in his heart and in the church, and it just motivates me all the more to keep praying for the church. Some people are cynical as to his motives for speaking, but I didn’t sense anything but sincerity as Benny spoke about this. Benny still believes God wants to prosper us and prosperity is a blessing, as do I. But his roots had become entangled with weeds, and he now recognizes it.
How The Wheat And Weeds Are Being Separated Right Now
Some preachers were pretty upset with Benny for speaking. I feel like I’m writing prophetically now. It seems that God is using Benny’s statements to reveal the motives of people’s hearts, and it is beginning a time of separating the wheat from the weeds.
I watched one preacher in particular who was really upset and rebuked Benny, going on and on about how Satan would attack the church’s finances through this. As I saw him speak, it seemed that he was demonized. He claims to have seen Jesus personally. If you have seen Jesus, your countenance reflects it. My grandmother’s face was glowing and she looked ten years younger after one encounter with Jesus. Heidi Baker’s countenance is radiant because she is beholding the Lord. Yet this man’s eyes and countenance look like those of a murderer in a mug shot after being captured, not somebody who had seen Jesus. And his response revealed what is in his heart.
How The Pentecostal Revival Started
Do you know how the modern Pentecostal movement started? It spread worldwide through William Seymour and the Azusa Street revival, but it started a few years earlier. A preacher named Charles Parham preached on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
William Seymour sat outside the door in the hall and listened. He wasn’t able to participate in the “altar times” of seeking God with everybody else. But he received from God through a preacher who had him sit outside the door because of his skin color and segregation.
Is that hard to understand?
God was working with a preacher who practiced segregation, a human tradition for which many churches of that day broke God’s commandments. The Holy Spirit working through Parham’s life certainly doesn’t justify segregation. Imagine the humility it took for William Seymour to learn and receive from God through this imperfect minister! And the great thing is that the Pentecostal revival which spread as a result of that made great strides towards breaking down racial barriers.
I’ve certainly felt a bit of confusion at times. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit move in places where some things were really not right. This tithe thing really isn’t right. It has so undermined the way people relate to God and has hurt the cause of the gospel. Yet the people who fanned the flames in my heart for missions teach it, as well as those who got me started ministering healing. In some places where I’ve been blessed, I’ve heard someone stand up and imply that giving money could help a person to receive their healing. That’s an abhorrent practice. Some people, seeing that, think healing must be fake too, and they reject everything that’s happening. I know far too well that it isn’t, but it grieves me to how this becomes a stumbling block to hinder people from receiving what God has for them.
Peter was an apostle who had walked personally with Jesus and preached the gospel boldly, with miracles following. Yet he got carried away and entangled with the circumcision faction so that the apostle Paul gave him a strong rebuke. Like the tithe, the circumcision issued boiled down to gospel essentials and how people relate to God.
So powerful ministries can have miracles happening and a mighty work of the Holy Spirit, but miss it big time in an area. Yes, God is working mightily in the church today, but we have missed it big time when it comes to this tithe tradition. Critics have sometimes wanted to pull up the wheat with the weeds. They don’t have the humility to see what God is doing in spite of what’s wrong. Others have mistaken the Holy Spirit’s move as an endorsement on doctrine or ministries.
Paul rejoiced that the gospel was being preached, even if sometimes it wasn’t even for the right motives. Some people had malicious motives in preaching, but they were still sharing the gospel and it bore fruit! The message that Jesus saves and heals will always bear fruit, and it often has in spite of the messenger!
Philippians 1:15-18 (NIV) It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Some people are preaching the gospel but with bad motives. Some have good motives but have been drawn into hypocrisy, or double-mindedness concerning their message, like the apostle Peter was. Some now are realizing that their roots got entangled with weeds. I pray that we have the humility to receive from God through people and movements that don’t have everything right, and when we see weeds, respond with humility and prayer so as not to rip up the wheat with the weeds.
I am remaining in an attitude of prayer with thanksgiving for the church, and I am making a plea to those who have measured spirituality and obedience to God by a tithe: reconsider this tradition and hold it up to scripture. Consider the implications and the fruit of it, because it is causing great harm to the cause of Christ.
- PS. Nothing is wrong with prosperity. Where things go awry is when people begin to equate gain with godliness, show favoritism, teach that your tithe and giving are your covenant with God, and put the gospel up for sale.