You Break God’s Commandments For The Sake Of Your Tithing Tradition

11 Commands Of God That People Break For The Sake Of Tithing Traditions

Click here to return to the menu or download the pdf of the whole book.

Click here for the next chapter

Human Religious Tradition

We’ve examined how some of the most common teachings concerning tithing today cut away at the very foundation of the Christian faith. Yet some people will say “We teach tithing by grace. We teach only the blessing, but we don’t teach that you’re cursed if you don’t tithe.”

Yet churches that teach tithing still regularly break God’s commands for the sake of this tradition, even when they try to dress the tithe up as “grace.” It continues to be a misrepresentation of how God relates to his people, even differing vastly in both principle and practice from the tithe practiced under Mosaic law.

We’ve already examined briefly how the modern tithe is based much more on the Babylonian tithe than on the Jewish tithe under the law. You can read Leviticus 27, Numbers 18, and Deuteronomy 12, 14, and 26 for an overview of the tithe Malachi refers to. Nobody who teaches tithing from Malachi observes the tithe which Malachi refers to.

Those who teach that 10% is a standard for everyone are either making things up or passing on the traditions they have heard, because even under the Mosaic law, 10% was never a standard for everyone. Not everybody tithed under Mosaic law. My personal belief in the modern tithe had entered through human tradition, not through reading scripture. When I promoted it, I was passing on the tradition I had been taught.

We are also making things up if we take Abraham’s one-time tithe on the spoils of war, which God never even commanded him to give, and translate that into a divine command for all time that all Christians tithe regularly on their gross incomes. We will now examine several commands of God that many churches regularly break for the sake of the tithe tradition.


Matthew 7:5-13  So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”


Open Your Hands to the Poor and Do Not Oppress Them

If you ever just open your Bible and read it cover to cover, one of the main themes you will find is justice for the oppressed and the command to help the poor. Check out Compassion International’s compilation of scriptures concerning the poor for a few of them.[1] When scripture talks about giving, it talks about this more than anything else. The New Testament also has extremely harsh words for those who oppress the poor and defraud workers of their wages. God’s heart is huge on this matter.

My wife said to some girls at her work “Let’s give our tithe to this girl who makes only 1,000 reais. It’s hard for her to live on that.” (About $250 a month) They gave her R$400. She cried and said “But your tithe belongs to God.” Maybe she didn’t know that Jesus said, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me”?[2] Giving to the poor is giving to God.

Many churches teach that giving to the poor and giving to missions only come after the tithe. However, the poor under the Old Covenant received from the tithe rather than paying it. Even if we were 100% under the law of the Old Covenant, following today’s modern tithe tradition would still be breaking the commandments of God. Many people claim to teach tithing by grace, yet they tell the poor that they are obligated to tithe rather than sharing the tithe with the poor. Even tithing under the law had more grace in it than that!

The verb “to decimate” meant “to levy a tithe” in the Middle Ages; as in the phrase “poor as a decimated Cavalier.”[3] You know what connotations this word continues to have! Consider how this has reflected on people’s perception of the gospel message throughout history. The politicized church has decimated many poor people throughout history, but Jesus didn’t come to decimate anybody. He brought good news to the poor!

Instead of helping the poor as the ancient Jewish tithe did, today’s modern tithe tradition tells them that they are cursed and they are God-robbers if they do not pay their tithe before anything else including food or rent.  I recently heard a message from another preacher who claims to preach tithing by grace. Yet he continued to teach that “the original sin was not tithing” and “non-tithers are God-robbers.”

Some in financial straits have stopped going to church because they couldn’t afford it. This is not rare. My aging mother-in-law, whose income covers half her expenses, said one night “I can’t go to church tonight because I don’t have my tithe.”

Her pastor is a very loving guy, sincere, and I think he’s just teaching what he’s been taught and what he thinks is right. His tradition, like many, seems to treat tithing as a fundamental tenant of the Christian faith. I doubt he would tell her she couldn’t go to church without her tithe, although there are pastors who do. In spite of her pastor’s good heart and intentions, the message that came across to my elderly mother-in-law as she heard him preach the denomination’s position on tithing was “You’re not welcome if you don’t come with a tithe.”

I personally know a widow who adopted over 20 orphans and cared for dozens of others as foster children. She was evicted for not paying rent. She was a faithful tither, but under Mosaic Law she would have received help from the tithe. Another man, in South America, was “disfellowshipped” from a church for not paying a tithe as he cared for five special-needs orphans and paid their expenses out of his own pocket.

When I share stories such as these, similar stories start coming out of the woodwork. I’ve received various messages from others sharing their own experiences. These are pervasive issues, common even within churches that claim to teach tithing by grace, but people usually only share their stories when they feel safe and don’t believe they will be judged.

Consider this: Even if you believe Christians are under the law (which is a great error in itself), to know scripture commanded that the needy receive the tithe, yet tell a person in need that scripture teaches they must pay the tithe before even their rent or grocery bill, is fraud. To tell them that God will curse them if they do not tithe is extortion. It’s a crime in God’s eyes, and it’s oppressing the poor. Even if we were fully under the tithe law of Israel, those in need received help from the tithe and it was landowners who gave it.

I realize that many preachers have taught this error as it was passed down to them, believing it sincerely. But someone who is faced with these facts from the Old Testament and continues to do so has no excuse. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for devouring widows’ houses after seeing a poor widow put all she had to live on in the offering. That rebuke applies here.

This reminds me of our experience with being sold a business by fraud. When shown facts like differing financial statements for the same time periods, the franchise owner and representatives refused to respond to anything. When confronted with proof of their salespeople’s lies and the damage they caused due to negligence, they became angry. It even seemed like the representative of the franchise whom I corresponded with was honestly convinced that the franchise was in the right.

Unfortunately, many people today deceive themselves in the same way over the tithe. When confronted with the fact of how the poor received, rather than gave, the ancient tithe, they become angry in the same way. They have deceived themselves and believe what they want to, in spite of facts to the contrary.

Even people who agree with me that tithing is not the New Covenant model, ask “Why is this such a big deal?” The first reason is that these teachings are untrue, and we participate in a spirit of fraud when we continue to hold to them and ignore the facts. Nobody can argue with the fact that the tithe of the Old Covenant helped the poor rather than demanding from them.


Declaring What Would Have Helped Your Father or Mother Is Dedicated to God

This is the specific example that Jesus gave to the Pharisees of how they nullified God’s word for the sake of their tradition. Instead of caring for aging parents, they made a “gift dedicated to God.”

The teaching that wrongly equates a tithe with the separate Old Testament “first fruits” offering, and then teaches people to tithe before anything else, has often amounted to the same injustice. There are many cases in which people who took this erroneous “first fruits tithe” teaching seriously have not adequately cared for their families. As a missionary who’s seen some of the global church and who corresponds with Christians from various nations, I can say these situations are even more common in third-world countries. Elderly people in these countries often have no retirement savings, get a small amount from the government, and rely primarily on their children to care for them.

There have been reports of African women prostituting themselves to pay tithes.[4] I’ve personally heard similar stories from African Christians, such as churchgoers throwing their tithes on the coffin of a dead relative so he would go to heaven, or a man tithing on the money he gained in a massive fraud scheme because he thought his tithe brought God’s blessing.


1 Timothy 5:8  “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”


Romans 13:8 (NRSV) “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”


Paying a tithe before caring for your family or paying bills is nullifying God’s word for the sake of human tradition. There are multiple situations in which this is happening and tithe teachers do not want to come face-to-face with these situations. Some preachers will say “Oh, those people are just victims of preachers who abuse the truth of tithing. It doesn’t invalidate the principle.” Yet the same situations often exist in their own churches. It’s not that someone is “abusing the teaching.” The teaching itself is abusive.

Various times, people have asked “What should I do? Care for my aging mom or give the tithe?” Many pastors have insisted that the tithe comes first. Teaching people to give sacrificially yet failing to teach them the scriptural priority of caring for family is lying by omission. It’s like Abraham telling Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister (she was his half-sister), and not telling him she was his wife![5]

Some people who pay tithes first and are behind on bills or not paying what is due are living in guilt and condemnation. Others are full of self-righteous pride. I heard one man speaking boastfully of his tithe, saying “The tithe is grace, and really, it’s only a starting point for generous giving” and then upbraiding other people for the supposed “stinginess.”

What many people didn’t know is that this guy owed one of his workers seven months of unpaid wages. He eventually paid, but not before his tithe! The irony is that this man qualified as an elder in the local church for paying his tithes, yet the one who would pay the worker first rather than tithing would be disqualified for leadership!


Let No Debt Remain Outstanding Except for the Continual Debt to Love One Another

Dr. David Croteau relates the story of meeting a seminary student who testified of God’s overwhelming faithfulness to meet his needs. He was deeply in debt and had purchased a house he couldn’t afford, yet he was faithfully tithing and, in fact, giving 16% of his income to the local church.

David inquired as to how the Lord had delivered him from this pressing financial situation, and the young man explained that the Lord had allowed him to file for bankruptcy![6]

I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of how this young man imagined that God’s deliverance in response to his faithful tithing was a bankruptcy filing. However, this story reminded me of one of the primary issues that I wrestled with when I stopped tithing. As the accountant told me he was working on the case and he thought we could win, the amount the IRS was charging me doubled due to penalties and interest. I had never held any outstanding credit card debt before that. At that point, I wanted to get out of that situation as soon as possible in order to focus on missions and serving the Lord.


Romans 13:8  “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”


Proverbs 22:7  “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”


1 Corinthians 7:21-23  “Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.”


We must remember that in biblical times there were no bankruptcy laws and people could literally be enslaved for not paying debts. I would not conclude that the Bible absolutely prohibits Christians from ever getting a mortgage or using credit. Lenders today evaluate risk and charge interest accordingly, and we now have bankruptcy laws. However, when people are in debt and paying large amounts of interest, in a sense they are still a slave to the one they are paying interest to. Paying a tithe while paying large amounts of interest is not the best stewardship.

Deciding whether to take on debt, or how much, needs to be left up to the individual Christian’s conscience. Remember that scripture says “Whatever is not of faith is sin.”[7] It is wrong to compel a believer to violate their conscience for the sake of the human tradition of tithing. If a believer’s conscience says “Prioritize getting out of debt,” we must not interfere, as every individual believer must give an account of himself to God.


“Don’t Test the Lord Your God”

In Acts, the early church determined that trying to compel Gentile Christians to be bound by Jewish law was testing God.


Acts 15:10 (NRSV) “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?”


Matthew 4:7 (NRSV) “Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’”


This reminds us of Jesus’s rebuke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, in which he upbraided them for their self-righteous boasting in their money and for laying heavy burdens on people and locking them out of the kingdom of heaven. It also reminds us of Matthew 18.


Matthew 18:6 (NRSV) “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”


I’ve talked to many unchurched people about Christ. So many of them avoid church precisely because they believe the church cares about what they have, not about them. This does great harm to the cause of the gospel. On the contrary, the apostle Paul said, We want not what is yours, but you.”[8]


Don’t Cause Any of these Little Ones to Stumble

Matthew 18:6-7  “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”


Jesus himself is a stumbling block.[9] Yet in this passage Jesus is talking about causing little ones who believe to stumble by wronging them or causing unnecessary offence. A significant group of people were once in fellowship but got burned out on tithe and give-to-get messages and now want nothing to do with the church. Some want nothing to do with Jesus. Many of them were single mothers and others who would not have paid a tithe or would have even received part of it under Jewish law, but they were compelled to give one.

There is also the matter of causing unbelievers to stumble so as to hinder them from coming to Christ. One father shared about his 24-year old daughter, who was a single mother with two children, tithing $200 a week. Yet many times he, the grandfather, would pick up diapers and formula because she hadn’t bought them. He said, “I don’t understand how she puts god first before her children.”[10]

I don’t know if he is a believer, but I noticed that he wrote “god” with a lower-case “g.” Nevertheless, I have personally seen and heard of similar situations multiple times. Some of them are young people relying on their unbelieving parents, or elderly parents tithing, yet relying on their unbelieving children for support.

I’d like those who attempt to dress up tithing as “grace” to consider this: whether the young woman was tithing because she was afraid of a curse, or she was just doing so-called “grace tithing” in order to obtain a blessing, her father would still wonder why she was “putting god before her children.” The message to unbelievers is the same.

One brother recently shared that he advised a man in his congregation to stop tithing. This father of four, whose wife was not currently working, was faithfully tithing yet was relying on his unbelieving parents to give him gas money to get to work by the middle of each week.


1 Corinthians 9:12, 15;  “If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ… But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast.”


1 Corinthians 10:32  “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”


Here, Paul is not talking about the necessary offence that comes with the gospel, but about adding offence unnecessarily. Paul chose not to take support that was proper for him to receive, which was the expected food and lodging given to a traveling minister, in order to not hinder the gospel. How is it that now, in our modern tithe tradition, we are willing to demand money even from people that the old covenant tithe would have helped?

So many people are bitter against the church for various reasons, and many say “The church just wants my money.” Many of them have projected that bitterness onto God, whom the church has misrepresented. The message that has come across to them is anything but what Paul said to the Corinthians: “…what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So, I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.”[11]

In other cases, the church has confronted a person for failing to tithe with full knowledge that their spouse was an unbeliever and was not in agreement with tithing on their income. What are we communicating to unbelievers?

More than the tithe dogma being an unnecessary stumbling block to hinder people from coming to Jesus, we have people who have either totally rejected the faith or are outside of Christian fellowship after asking questions nobody could answer and coming to the same conclusions that many leading theologians and scholars have come to about tithing. The level of vitriol that has come against many people for simply asking questions about tithing and coming to honest conclusions is astounding.

People have found themselves shunned, losing long-term friendships and relationships, treated as traitors against God and the church, simply for saying in good conscience “Tithing is not defensible as a doctrine for the church today.” One friend related to me how his dad went into a years-long depression after the church cut ties with him. Dr. David Croteau shares how he contacted a scholar who had written a book on the tithe. He learned that every church had ostracized him for his view and he couldn’t get a job, so that he lost hope of ever working in ministry and instead pursued another education and career. When Dr. Croteau talked to him, the man was no longer in fellowship with a church.[12]

One author shares that when he started studying tithing and learned how inaccurate the tithe tradition was which he had believed for so long, it triggered a crisis of faith and he considered embracing agnosticism.[13] The kickback against him was so intense that his oldest son, who grew up in church, feared his father’s life might be in danger and asked him not to write the book for the sake of his physical safety.[14]

I’ve interacted with several people who lost long-time friendships and were shunned by churches because they dared to state their own honest conclusions after studying tithing biblically and historically. A significant group of them are not in a Christian fellowship and are still extremely angry and bitter over their experience.

About ten years ago, several of my Facebook friends began to realize the glaring problems with the tithe dogma they had been taught. A root of bitterness sprang up in some of their hearts, worsened by the vitriol and angry treatment directed at them from many Christians. I grieved as I saw some of them begin to reject nearly everything the church had ever taught them and soon reject orthodox Christianity.

What I experienced was not nearly as bad as what some others did, but I still felt my stomach twist when my pastor said “We can no longer support your ministry.” I lost so much trust in the integrity of leaders I respected when I saw how this subject was a taboo and we couldn’t ask certain questions because they couldn’t answer them. I have at times encountered downright hatred from “Christians” over questioning tithes, but fortunately not from the ones I was in close fellowship with. I’ve seen enough that I’m not so surprised to hear of a son’s concern that his father’s life was in danger over the issue.

I know the level of hatred I’m talking about will be shocking to some pastors who have never seen it, but we soon find out if we question tithing! Creflo Dollar said he was joking about lining up non-tithers to shoot them down and throw them into a mass grave, but Jesus said that what comes out of the mouth is the overflow of the heart and is what defiles a man.[15]

I can only write now without a twinge of bitterness because God imparted such a supernatural love to me for the church. Rather than holding resentment, my heart is soft towards the people Jesus died for and I weep for them. I grieve when I see so many Christians who have been blinded to truth, especially those who will actually state that nobody will make it into heaven without a tithe.


Give in Secret

Matthew 6:3-4 (NRSV) “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”


Many people simply take this scripture at face value, and some say Jesus is addressing the heart issue and it’s all right to talk about our giving sometimes, such as when we give a testimony. No matter what an individual’s conviction is about this scripture, they must follow their conviction, because whatever is not of faith is sin,[16] and each of us must give an account of himself to God. [17] Churches who check their member’s tithe records and ministries that ask if people are tithers are not allowing them to give in secret to be seen only by God. Jesus also rebuked the Pharisees who gained honor by doing their deeds to be seen by men.[18] It is completely reasonable that some Christians, as a matter of conscience, want to give in secret.

Paul, in the book of Galatians, spoke of certain people who were spying on their freedom in Christ, and he didn’t put up with it for a moment! Consider how this is applicable to the issue of New Covenant giving. Those who demand to know how much you are giving are spying on your freedom in Christ. It’s no better than Judaizers wanting to peek and see if someone was circumcised!


Galatians 2:3-5  “Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”


I have frequently heard tithe teachers speaking in public about their giving. I’ve often heard tithers in self-righteous boasting of their giving, but speaking disparagingly of people they consider stingy. Consider Jesus’s words, which are no less applicable today than they have ever been. The second man was justified without a tithe:


Luke 18: 9-14 (NRSV) “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’”


Let Giving Be as Each Decides in His Heart, Not under Compulsion

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NRSV) “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”


Teaching tithing to Christians clearly violates Paul’s New Testament instructions here for giving in the churches. The church is not to tell anybody how much they must give, but giving must flow from communion with the Holy Spirit.

The free will giving of the early church helped the same people whom the tithe law of the Old Covenant helped. By controlling giving instead of letting it flow out of a heart in communion with the Holy Spirit, the tithe supplants giving to missions and helping the needy.

Do you remember Edgar’s story? Our giving to a church didn’t amount to 10% when we cared for him, and the Baptist church that helped us with a bed for him has never taught tithing or used any form of compulsion in giving, yet we’ve seen them do far more to help the needy than many churches ten times their size will do. In fact, when I posted on Facebook that I was writing about how much the tithe doctrine has harmed the church, I got a “like” from the profile of that Baptist church.

I have many friends who don’t believe in tithing. If you would ask me which Christians seem less likely to believe in tithing, I would say “Those who are involved in missions to people who never heard the gospel, Christians exercising spiritual gifts in daily life, and those who are caring for people in need.” Some of these people are taking in hundreds of street kids or helping broken people get off the streets and away from prostitution and drug addiction.

A friend shared her story in the comments of our blog post “Tithing and Injustice.” She wasn’t supposed to be on the worship team if she wasn’t tithing. She was struggling to make ends meet and trusting God for food and clothing, but upon joining the worship team, she had signed her name that she would agree to tithe to the church. Then one day she felt the Holy Spirit guiding her to give $50 (more than her tithe would have been) to a lady in the church. She argued with God but he said firmly “She is my church!”  So, she obeyed. The lady cried because that $50 was grocery money for her and her two kids that week.

My friend disobeyed the tithe tradition of men, but she obeyed God. She would have disobeyed God for the sake of a human tradition if she had given a tithe that week.


Welcome One Another as Christ Has Welcomed You

Romans 15:7 (NRSV) “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”


Many churches have made it clear that people who don’t tithe are not welcome as functional, participating members of the Body of Christ, or even as church members at all. To doom anyone who gives less than 10% to spectator status is not accepting them as Christ has. Yet even many so-called “grace-tithing” churches do this. You can’t minister with the grace God has given you if you are unable to commit to a tithe. On what basis did Christ welcome us into his body? On that of a tithe?

Many claim “We don’t teach you are accepted by tithing. You are already accepted in Christ.” Yet often, their practice is not so! If they teach that non-tithers are “God-robbers, as many do, (even some who claim to teach tithing by grace), it brings cognitive dissonance. It’s hard to keep this scripture out of people’s minds:


1 Corinthians 5:12  “Expel the wicked person from among you.”


Do Not Show Favoritism

James 2:1-6 (NRSV)My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please,’ while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there,’ or, ‘Sit at my feet,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you?”


The above reference is one of the most relevant and applicable scriptures pertaining to this topic. In many churches, being in leadership is out of the question if one is not a tither, although it is not one of the qualifications for leaders set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 or Titus 1:6-9. How many times have we seen extreme leniency in applying the scriptural qualifications for elders? However, a person who meets those scriptural qualifications, yet has the integrity to pay bills before giving, would never be considered if their current giving was less than a tenth. Some leaders even say upfront that the amount people contribute to the church is one of the main factors when they choose elders.

The command to “not show favoritism” also applies to practices like calling all the tithers up from to receive a “special blessing.” I’ve ministered to people on the streets, in churches, and in their homes, seeing many miracles, and the thought of giving someone a “special blessing” for giving money is abhorrent to me. It’s contrary to everything I want to communicate to people about God’s nature and grace.


Don’t Judge by Mere Appearances, but Judge with Righteous Judgment

John 7:2  “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”


1 Samuel 16:7  “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”


This is why appointing elders based on how much they give is problematic. When mammon becomes the measure by which we determine the sincerity of another’s faith or their devotion to Christ, or their favor with God, we are deceived. Looking at just the outward appearance destroys discernment.  Nobody’s heart before God can be measured by a percentage or a dollar amount.

I agree with John Wesley’s teaching that as we live for Christ 100% of our money is holy, and what we spend to care for our own needs and those of our families is just as holy as the rest. Wesley taught to first care for your own needs, then the needs of your family, then the world.[19] There is no guilt in this view of giving.

Sometimes there are people who are bursting with God’s life but don’t have a lot of money at the moment. When I was in that crisis situation and decided it would not honor God to tithe but not pay my electric bill, I was seeing people healed all the time. I was trying sincerely to be a good steward of my money before God.

Weekly, I saw people in tears as God touched them. I sometimes saw more people healed in a day than I had seen previously in years of church attendance. I often started weeping as I walked down the street because I was imagining God touching somebody. It really wasn’t about wanting a position in church or wanting to be seen. I just wanted to see people meet Jesus. I had homeless people living in my house. I often spent about 20 hours a week praying for people everywhere I went and talking to them about Jesus. When I met somebody who needed to be healed, it felt like time stopped and ministering to the person in front of me was the most important thing in the world. Yet I was in financial distress.

Some friends seemed to regard me as backslidden. Others thought I was being stingy if I wasn’t tithing. The pastor said they could no longer endorse my ministry, and I didn’t know a church that would. I didn’t know who would stand behind me as a missionary. I was sometimes more welcome to minister in the houses of unbelievers and idol-worshippers than in churches.

What if 20 or more hours of pouring out my heart in love for people that week and ministering healing was more of a sacrifice for me than the 4 hours it took another person to earn their week’s tithe money? Not to mention the trips to minister in small churches where the small offering, if there was one, didn’t cover my travel expenses. (I’m not saying this begrudgingly, as it was my privilege to see what God did in every place I visited and I am thankful for whatever the people could give.)

What about my mission trip to Russia and Ukraine, which cost as much as a year of tithes and was a financial sacrifice? I went with tears because love compelled me. I could barely afford the trip, but I felt God’s love for the people turn into a current like electricity flowing through my whole body from head to foot and I had to go. What if there was more risk and sacrifice in sheltering a homeless couple and their baby in my home than there was for another person who gave the full 10% of their income to the church that week? As I write these last paragraphs, I feel uncomfortable, thinking, “Why should I even need to talk like this?”


2 Corinthians 10:7,12,17-18  “You are judging by appearances…We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise…But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”


Paul went on to say in the next chapter that he was boasting like a fool, but he did so to cut the ground out from under those who boasted and compared themselves to others based on outward things. In the same manner, I speak to cut the ground out from under those who see a percentage or dollar amount as the measure of a person’s heart. No, I didn’t pay a tithe that year, but I gave much more than a tithe!

If we fail to judge with right judgment, we will reject Jesus himself coming to us, as Jesus did not come with anything in his outward appearance that people should desire him,[20] and he continues to come humble and riding on a donkey. When leaders determine by outward appearance with whom to entrust God’s flock, they end up appointing those who will divide and devour rather than build up and care for God’s people. There are many poor who are rich in faith, as scripture says. We should not fail to honor their faith if they make their first priority caring for a mother or father rather than dedicating “A gift offered to God.”

Click here to return to the menu or download the pdf of the whole book.

Click here for the next chapter

[1] What The Bible Says About Poverty Online: Accessed November 2nd, 2019

[2] Matthew 25:40

[3] The Merriam Webster Dictionary. Dallas, TX: Zane Pub., 1995. Decimate

[4] The Offering As An Act Of Worship Online: Accessed November 15th, 2019

[5] Genesis 12:10-20

[6] Croteau, David A. You Mean I Dont Have to Tithe?: a Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving. Eugene, Or.: Pickwick Publications, 2010. Position 4037

[7]  Romans 14:23

[8] 2 Corinthians 12:14

[9] 1 Corinthians 1:23

[10]A comment from “Rob” on this article online: Accessed November 27th, 2019

[11] 2 Corinthians 12:14+15

[12] Croteau, David A. You Mean I Dont Have to Tithe?: a Deconstruction of Tithing and a Reconstruction of Post-Tithe Giving. Eugene, Or.: Pickwick Publications, 2010. Position 62

[13] Chase, Frank. Kleptomaniac Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? Fc Pub Llc, 2016. Position 256-266, 515

[14] Chase, Frank. Kleptomaniac Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? Fc Pub Llc, 2016. Position 547

[15] Matthew 15:18

[16] Romans 14:23

[17] Romans 14:12

[18] Matthew 23:5-7

[19] Wesley, John. Sermons on Several Occasions: in Two Volumes. London: Published and sold by J. Kershaw, 14, City-Road, and 66, Paternoster-Row, 1825. Volume 1. Sermon The Use Of Money. Pg. 633

[20] Isaiah 53:2