Sunday, July 6, 2014
The Vengeful God I Serve
I believe a lot of damage has been done by people projecting ideas of God that are not at all what He is. Looking back, I can see I developed the idea that God was mad at me. If I didn't line up 100%, He would wreak havoc in my life until I did line up. And yes, I do believe if we get out of line, God may allow some circumstances to come our way to wake us up, but contrary to the beliefs of some people, He is not up there just waiting for us to mess up so He can send a lightning bolt our way and zap us back into shape.
I have been thinking about this issue in relation to tithing. In the Old Testament, it was required to give one tenth of your income to God. I could be wrong, but I don't think the New Testament is specific about the amount, but Jesus Himself said to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God....... and since one tenth was previously mentioned, that would seem a good place to start. I do believe tithing is Biblical and that Christians should do it. However, I don't like how too many preachers approach the subject.
Too many preachers and Christians in general, preach and indicate two fallacies about tithing:
1) If you don't tithe, God is going to get you. OK, they don't say it in those words, but similar. I have heard over and over that if you don't tithe, "the car repairman will get your tithe..... the washer repairman will get your tithe", and so on. They may use different scenarios, but the idea being driven home is the same: if you don't pay your tithe, God is going to cause a bunch of things to happen to you that you will have to use the money on that you didn't give Him.
Then they expect us to believe God is a God of love. Doesn't much sound like it to me. Sounds like He is petty and vengeful. Give Him money, or bad things will happen to you.
Now maybe, just maybe, if people are consistently not giving God their tithes and offerings, He might allow some trouble to come their way, but I am not so sure about that. He may nudge them, talk to them about it, and try to gently get them to come around to tithing, but to give the idea that if you don't tithe, God's going to drain your checking and savings accounts on your car or other troubles does not paint a very good picture of God.
In my personal experience, the opposite is true. I will admit I haven't always paid my tithe consistently, but it is when I have been consistent that it seems things go wrong. The mechanic drains my checking account trying to find out what is wrong with my car. Then he starts on my savings account. I get a larger than normal bill. I get my hours cut at work. As I look back over my life, I seriously believe that when we are serious about serving God and giving Him our tithe, that is when things fall apart. Not when we are holding back. And I don't think I am wrong in thinking this: I believe the devil fights us in that area, and that is why it goes that way.
And that brings me to my second equally false and damaging idea about tithing:
2) If you pay your tithe, nothing will go wrong and you'll always have enough money for all you need. Again, maybe not in those exact words, but the idea is given that if you pay your tithe consistently, then you'll be OK. And yes, I believe God takes care of us, but there have been many saints of God who faithfully tithed above and beyond the ten percent who lost their jobs, their homes, their families, who barely had 2 pennies to rub together.
Tithing is not a guarantee that life is going to be a bed of roses. Christianity in general doesn't promise that. If it did, everyone would be a Christian, but the rain falls on the just and unjust. On the tither and those who don't tithe.
God loves us completely, no matter what. Whether we serve Him or not, He loves us. Whether we tithe or don't, He loves us.
Being a Christian is not about a set of rules and obligations. It is about the God of the universe sending His only Son to die for us so we can be sinless in His sight and have a relationship with Him. And it is the best relationship ever. God isn't a demanding bully in the relationship who gets easily ticked off at us and wants revenge for things like not paying tithe. I don't even believe it is Biblical to give the idea that God will get our tithe out of us one way or another, yet that is sadly preached my many pastors.
We SHOULD tithe. It is Biblical, and if we don't, we should examine why we don't. No, the paycheck might not stretch to cover everything, but we can hope and pray that God will provide. And maybe He will. And maybe we have to have faith even if He doesn't. Tithing is not a guarantee that our finances will always work out and the bills will always get paid on time... yet we should still do it, and with the right attitude.
If we are tithing just because we have to, or because we are afraid the boogeyman God will get us if we don't, then we may as well not do it. The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver..... but if we are grudging, or worse, doing it out of fear, it isn't going to impress Him any. But doing it because we love Him and want to show our love by giving Him what belongs to Him anyway is the right way to do it.