Hitler once remarked that “how fortunate for leaders that men do not think”. This can also be said of the modern day believer that how fortunate for some church leaders that their congregants do not think or are ignorant.
by Dr Doug Mamvura
It is very sad to see how some of us who teach and preach the word of God have abused scripture for our self-enrichment by taking advantage of some of the church folk who do not think and are lazy to study the Bible.
Personally, I do not blame these church leaders because if the congregants knew the word, they would not be exploited by cunning preachers. The congregants have the responsibility to study the word of God and show themselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of the truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Alternatively, find a good Bible school. Bible schools are not just for pastors or preachers.
Be warned that there are men and women who are good at taking advantage of lazy, ignorant and gullible believers. I recently watched a “minister of the gospel” fund-raising on television and was appalled. I saw manipulation of the highest order and it was all done in the name of the Lord with tears and lots of hype. It really grieved me to see how people were being manipulated by this religious “fraudster”.
What upset me the most wasn’t the minister misrepresenting the Lord. That always has and always will happen. What’s the chaff to the wheat? (Jeremiah 23:28) We keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). What really upset me was that these tactics work. The body of Christ responds to this type of appeal with big bucks, and that’s why ministers do this: It works. There are churches receiving millions of dollars every year through gimmicks, lies and manipulation.
That says volumes about the immaturity in the body of Christ.
I want to focus specifically on what the Bible has to say about why, when, and where to give.
First, the motivation behind your gift is more important than your gift. This is the point being made in 1 Corinthians 13:3, which says: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.”
The reason you give is more important than what or how much you give.
Any presentation that says you can buy God’s blessing with your financial gift is using the wrong motive to get you to give. It is true that the widow gave Elijah all she had and that her needs were supernaturally supplied for the next three years. But 1 Kings 17:9 says: “I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” The Lord had commanded her to sustain Elijah. This wasn’t about getting her needs met, although that did happen; she was giving to help the man of God.
It is true that when we give, the Lord will give back to us a hundredfold in this lifetime (Mark 10:30), but giving only to get is the wrong motivation. God prospers us so we can establish His kingdom (Deuteronomy 8:18), give to those in need (Ephesians 4:28), and abound unto every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).
The emphasis should be on giving, not receiving. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). We should live to give and not give to live.
Second, there has been a lot of misunderstanding about when we should give. Many Christians only give after all their needs have been met. But the scriptures teach that our gifts are first fruits (Proverbs 3:9). That means the first thing we do when we receive money is to honour the Lord by giving a portion of it to His work.
Also, some of us are taught only to give at the specific command of the Lord. There are times when the Lord will specifically direct our giving, but it’s not all the time.
The scripture says: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The Lord wants us to give as we desire to give, not under pressure. So, when we are condemned into giving or made to feel guilty if we don’t give, that’s the wrong time to give.
Giving in a situation like this is rewarding negative behaviour. Every time we give to a minister who is manipulating us, it’s like casting a vote for that type of treatment. We have no right to murmur and complain when we voted for the thing we are upset about.
Third, concerning where we should give, that’s the easiest one of all. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:7-11, Galatians 6:6, 1 Timothy 5:17-18, and many other scriptures, that you are to give where you are fed. You don’t eat at McDonald’s but go over to Wimpy to pay or vice-versa. You pay where you eat. Likewise, you are to give where you are fed.
Malachi 3:10 reads: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
I’ve heard many ministers use that verse to teach that your tithes belong to your local church, and offerings above your tithes go to other ministries and benevolence work. I agree with that if your church is truly a storehouse. A storehouse is where you keep your food or go to get food.
However, we don’t live in a perfect world where every church is meeting the needs of the people who attend. There are people who go to church every week and never get fed. Some people complain about lack of adequate spiritual diet from their own churches and rely on teachings from the next door preacher.
It’s wrong to get fed in one place and give your tithes and offerings to another place. If you aren’t in a local church that truly feeds you, then get out of there and find a good one.
Those who use gimmicks and condemnation to manipulate are not truly feeding God’s people.
Mainstream religion is not feeding people. If the body of Christ was to purify their motives in giving, give only when they can do it cheerfully and not out of guilt, and give where they are truly fed, then those who aren’t feeding God’s flock would have to repent or go out of ”business”.
Also, true ministers and churches that are actually feeding the body of Christ would have more money than they needed.
Dr Doug Mamvura is a graduate of Charis Bible School. Feedback: email@example.com or Twitter @dougmamvura