Giving tithes ensures a believer will be rich?

I was reading a Japanese Christian forum the other day, and a certain individual stated that he made a mistake at work and yet it ended up benefiting the company. Then he had car troubles, but his company paid for the repairs. Later, his car stopped on the railroad tracks and caused the trains to stop for 15 minutes but he wasn’t sued by the train companies for the lost revenue. In fact, come to think of it, he says, his tires (modern day sandals?) have not worn out as fast as they should have. He stayed in a hotel and accidentally left his wallet with all his money in a telephone booth. 15 minutes later he went back and it was still there. All this, he says, is because he gives his tithe on Sundays.

When I asked him why the apostles lived lives of poverty before being martyred, he responded that to be martyred was the “greatest of all blessings.” Interesting comeback, I guess, but he missed the point entirely. God’s blessings do not have to be material. I wouldn’t consider martyrdom a blessing. An honor, maybe, to die for the Almighty, but a blessing? No. Regardless, our lives are not to be spent trying to accumulate material wealth or expecting that we will. I Timothy 6:8 says, “And having clothing and food, with these we shall be content.” God may choose to bless us with material wealth, but if he doesn’t, we are to be content and not wondering why our faith hasn’t resulted in riches.

Peter said to the crippled man in Acts 3:6, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Clearly, Peter was not wealthy. The idea promoted by the guy I mentioned above was rejected by Paul in I Timothy 6:2-10 and 17-21:

Teach and exhort these things. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

…Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy! Guard what was commited to your trust, avoiding profane babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you.

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” The message is clear that we should not be expecting great worldly wealth.

I believed for several years the false explanation of Jesus’ teaching that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The prosperity teachers say that the “eye of a needle” was the name of a gate in Jerusalem that was so small that camels had to be stripped of their load in order to squeeze through. The message then? That it is possible for rich people to go to heaven…it’s just very difficult. The problem is that there is no historical evidence for such a gate, and the passage is actually quite clear without trying to explain it away. If you read further, Jesus says, “With men it is impossible, but not with God, for all things are possible with God.” The same can be said for the rich and the poor: no man comes to the Father except through the Son.

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4 Responses to “Giving tithes ensures a believer will be rich?”

  1. Harmony says:

    This is a very good, thought provoking post. Our works do not gain us salvation, but God does bless us for putting our faith in Him. He won’t always bless us in the way we wish to be blessed and He won’t always answer our prayers in the way we want them answered, but He will always be there for us during th hard and good times. A friend of mine and her husband have been going through a lot of financial problems with their house lately, among other things. They were in need of a new car. When her husband was watching a CHristian broadcast one night, he felt led to promise the Lord that if God would just provide the money He would use a certain amount of it to tithe. God gave him the money.

  2. casey says:

    Thanks for the comment, Harmony. I don’t agree with bargaining with God, either (not that I haven’t done it before). If I tell God I’ll do something for him if he’ll do something for me and I end up getting the thing I asked for, is God giving it to me because I promised something in return, or is he giving it to me out of grace? I’d be more inclined to believe the latter.

  3. Dana says:

    I have never understood how these kinds of people explain the martyrs. Or any suffering by Christians, for that matter. Why do atheists ever live past childhood? Their lives should be full of hopeless misery while Christians are all wealthy and happy.

    But it doesn’t always work out that way, so something must be flawed with the view.

  4. casey says:

    Exactly, Dana. Christians are suffering all over the world. We may not see so much of it in the US, but faithful Christians are suffering every day. I wonder if the prosperity movement is limited to the US (and a few other prosperous nations with believers who have been influenced by US preachers)…