Circa 2015 – 2019
We finished Part 1 of the series: “Things my Father Taught me: About Life” and today we continue with Part 2, “About Church”, starting with this difficult topic: The Truth about Tithing.
In my first job after graduating from university in 1982, I was paid around S$1200 a month. After statutory deductions, my nett pay was just about $1000, from which I gave my parents $500. It made my mother very happy and my father very proud; which made me happy too. I was grateful that besides paying for my university education, they also paid for accommodation nearer campus. It was a lot of money but it saved me the one hour and half bus commute in our humid weather that left me drained by the time I arrived.
Perhaps that is why I never had any problem with tithing as it was given with the same love and gratitude I have for my parents for God, my Heavenly Father. One of my pastors jested that I am the only strange one who sends my tithe by post, without fail, on time, every month. I simply do not want to be late in case we miss Sunday service that week when I get my pay or if I should forget to put it onto the offering bag. I do not want to delay my giving to God.
My sentiments are that all of my blessings come from God and since God says the 10% belongs to Him, I am very grateful for the 90%. Besides, God doesn’t need any money, so He must have a good reason for it. Most of all, it will make my Father happy and proud, just like it did for my parents.
So, similarly, from a young age, my children were taught to put aside 10% of their pocket money to give to Church every week. They will put $1 into the offering bag each week, out of the weekly pocket money of $10. When they started to make some money from their holiday jobs, they gave their tithes from it.
My husband did question why we should give our entire tithe to the Church. Why not give part of it to charity? He sensibly felt that the Church was going to be really wealthy if everyone gave his or her tithe entirely to them. But since this is what the Church teaches, I said we simply believe and comply.
All went well for many years in all the churches we attended: an AOG church, non-denominational churches and a Baptist church, until one day, our mentors whom God sent to live next door to us for a few years were moving out.
God is ever so faithful. About five years after they had sold their first home and gave up their careers to follow God’s call, they received a sizeable and unexpected inheritance, many times of what they have given up to do God’s work. My husband used to marvel at their faith, remarking “I have never lived so close and upfront to miracles”. Indeed we saw so so many in their lives, almost daily, and we learnt so much from them in the years they faithfully stayed next door, let to them rent free, until God said it was time to go.
Beth (not her real name) told me how they were going to distribute their tithe - to various people and causes that she and her husband felt led to. I was surprised and asked, isn't the tithe to be given to the Church?
She answered with a cryptic question: “Is the tithe really for the Church?”
I did not think much about it, as I completely believed what the Church had taught - that we are to give all of our tithe, 10% of our earnings, month by month, to the Church. It was nearly a year after they moved out, the Holy Spirit woke me one night and told me to google these words – “the truth about tithing”.
I typed these exact words into the search box and a long article written by a man named George Potkonyak appeared with that exact heading. He wrote that his Church had expelled him for pursuing this subject. As I read through what he wrote and studied the verses quoted, I was disturbed to discover that what was taught by the Church was indeed quite different from the bible.
I quizzed Liz, then my marketplace mentor, an ex-missionary and pastor with an AOG church for 21 years, about this. She admitted it is true and says it is different with every denomination or church. She arranged for me to speak with her husband, a Methodist pastor, to find out more about it. I also checked with other pastors and looked up a pastoral manual regarding this topic. And true enough, I found that the Church’s teaching and practice on tithing is not exactly in line with Scriptures. But no one wanted to openly address the elephant in the room.
Just like what the writer said, after all these years, not one pastor or Church had refuted what he had written!
One very stressed-out Senior Pastor asked me, “How are we going to survive without the money from tithes?” I admit that there were no easy answers. I empathise with his plight as their Church had just committed to buying a piece of property to hold their weekend services, and had to take up a huge mortgage for it.
There are more historical details, mathematical logic and research shared in the article by George Potkonyak. I suggest you go online and read it for yourself. As for me, I asked the Holy Spirit for clarity and direction as, this time, I really want to know what is the truth for myself.
What He showed me was actually very delightful, which I will share in the next post.
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