What about stewardship? (31/3/11)

 

Is the 'Stewardship' teaching which is heard in many churches today scripturally valid? 

 

The definition of a 'steward' in the bible is a senior servant whose responsibility it was to take care of and manage his masters household. This is the ONLY way the word is used in the scriptures (Gen 24:2, Gen 43:16, Is 22:15, Dan 11:1, Mat 20:8, Luke 12:42 and Luke 16:1)

 

In the New Testament 'servants' are MINISTERS such as the apostles...

Col 1:7  Epaphras, our dear fellow servant , who is a faithful minister of Christ     NKJV
 
1 Cor 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more   NKJV
 

The 'stewards' in the New Testament are the ELDERS whose job it was to LEAD and CARE FOR and FEED the church which is the HOUSEHOLD OF GOD! (see scriptures showing this later in the article)

 

God's children are NOT STEWARDS in the bible... they are joint HEIRS with Christ!

  

The modern thrust of 'stewardship' teaching however is that we ALL as individual believers today do not ‘own’ anything because we are merely stewards of what God has ‘given us’.

This is totally misrepresents what the scriptures teach. YES, God created the world and owns everything....BUT HE sanctions personal ownership of that which we work for and EARN as a fundamental individual right in the Ten Commandments! (Ex 20:15 and 17)

Rom 4:4
4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace (
or a free gift) but as debt.     NKJV
 

Paul refutes the basis of much of stewardship teaching today in this single verse....What we work for is not 'given to us'...it is EARNED!

 

It should be noted that the words "own", "owns", "owned", "owner" occur more than a HUNDRED times in the bible in relation to men and their possessions and CATEGORICALLY speak of the individuals personal ownership of their possessions  and NOT "stewardship" only.

(The word "steward" or "stewardship" are NEVER used in the scriptures in any way which even implies that this is our status in relation to OUR personal physical possessions. Yes, some people were actually stewards in bible times but most were FREE...just like the 'sons and the daughters of God' today)

 

We all know that we cannot take wealth with us into the 'after-life'....but that does not mean that each of us are not FREE to use it and to dispense with it AS WE PERSONALLY SEE FIT while we are on earth. Jesus and Peter both taught this irrefutably and directly (Mat 20:13-15, Acts 5:4). This is what FREEDOM of OWNERSHIP allows us to do.

 

Much of what is taught about ‘Stewardship’ denies the gospel of God’s grace. It says now that your are saved, … you mustyou have to… give 10% of your income as a tithe, give offerings, sow money, honor the prophet…..etc, in order to be blessed (or sometimes even in order to prove or retain your salvation according to Matthew and John Hagee)...contrary to Eph 1:3 and numerous other scriptures.

 

Salvation is FREE and it is a GIFT. This means that it does not have to be bought by us …JESUS PAID the FULL price for us. Stewardship tries to bring God’s children under the Law by deception. It teaches an "earn and deserve" mentality …. rather than a "freely received by FAITH alone" understanding.

 

While there are scriptural references to 'stewardship', the modern teaching's focus on money completely misrepresents what the scriptures teach that it is about.

 

Many are left wondering if this teaching is not primarily being used as a mask to hide a covetous wolf’s heart…. something Jesus called ‘an evil eye’. (Mat 20:15)....and something Paul warned the believers to beware of (Acts 20:29-35)

 

There are a number of false premises in the modern teaching which are destructive and need to be challenged :-

 

  1. What I have materially was ‘given to me’….This denies clear scriptural teaching that what I work for I have earned, and what I have earned is NOT a gift     (Rom 4:4) 
  2. If I have more than others, it is not because I worked harder…or applied myself to study….or got promoted…or saved my money more wisely…or invested it rather than spending it. It must be because I was ‘more blessed’ or 'entrusted with more'. This leads some people to the claim that others are ‘more blessed than they’ (exposing covetousness/enviousness….and this makes their financial problems God’s fault because He has played favorites)
  3. The opposite approach is that many believe that God has NO interest in their financial affairs. This is just as wrong because God is our heavenly Father and wants us to PRAY about…to put our plans before Him…and in FAITH to seek His blessing on our efforts. He is also very willing to give us inspiration and wisdom and strength to tackle life’s practical issues.
  4. The world (the unsaved people) for some reason are more ‘financially blessed’ than the church.  This is seldom acknowledged and when questions are raised it is implied that this is probably because it was probably acquired (ie earned) by 'illegitimate means'. This has led to covetousness as expressed in doctrine ‘the wealth of the wicked will be transferred to the righteous’. Would God do this when the bulk of the money given to churches IS squandered and NOT given to the poor or missionaries?
  5. Those who have more than others, 'should' give more, so that all have the same. (this comes from what Jesus referred to as  ‘a covetous heart or an 'evil eye’). YES those who have more are able to give more….and are FREE to give as they are able…BUT there is NO COMPULSION or OBLIGATION to do so! There IS only a blessing for freewill generosity.
  6. The failure to acknowledge that the BIBLE actually does teach personal ownership of property far more directly and clearly and extensively than any scriptures even imply that we are only stewardship the possessions we have.

 

The world quite astutely sees through the teaching of 'financial stewardship' teaching as a facade to conceal an agenda of covetousness. God gives each of us the FREEDOM to give 'as we purpose in our own hearts' and there is NO dictated giving required to churches or preachers. 

 

All the references to stewardship in the New Testment scriptures refer to the stewardship of the GOSPEL, that which was freely given by God. This was first given to the apostles to share first with Israel, and then to the Gentiles who would become the Church in the New Testament.  (1 Cor 4:1-2, 1 Pet 4:10, 1 Cor 9:16-17 and Col 1:24-26) This truth is almost overlooked in what certainly  appears to be an ungodly scramble to gain access to the new believers wealth and a share of his income!

 

But first let us examine ....

The main New Testament scriptures wrongly used to claim we are all only ‘stewards’ of our wealth

 

1 Cor 4:7

And what do you have that you did not receive?   NKJV

Many base their belief on stewardship on the following OUT OF CONTEXT extract assuming that it is referring to physical possesions and money...but let us examine this

11 Cor 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.    NKJV
 

The context of verse 7 is clearly the revelation which the Corinthians had received from Paul when He preached the GOSPEL to them and certainly does not refer to stewardship of physical things such as money!

(Have you ever heard this taught in its correct context?)

 

But what about Luke chapter 16 ...  and other scriptures...  they then say

Brethren Luke 16 is a PARABLE...not a teaching about wealth ... it is about Israel's RELIGIOUS LEADERS and their failure to be stewards of the covenant that they had been entrusted with (Rom 9:4-5)

 

Luke 16:1-10

He also said to His disciples: "There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.  2 So he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' 

3 "Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg.  4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.' 

5 "So he called every one of his master's debtors to him, and said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'  6 And he said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' So he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.'  7 Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' So he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.'  8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. 

9 "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.    NKJV

 

Please note that there is NOTHING in this parable which in any way suggests or teaches that EVERY ONE is only a steward of what they possess. It merely uses a common practice of that day as an illustration to teach a spiritual principle.

This parable does teach that the LEADERSHIP of the church, as sons of the Light, have the opportunity in life to be faithful stewards with their responsibility to TAKE CARE OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD...the church! (Tit 3:5, 1 Pet 5:1-4)

 

Luke 16:10-13

10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.  11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own

13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."      NKJV

 

This is a warning to God’s ministers today ....his servants and those who are to lead and take CARE of HIS Church...that they are to be FAITHFUL with 'what IS ANOTHER MAN’S!' This confirms that accountability and integrity are required of church leaders!

(Note ..not what the other man is steward over…but what IS HIS....this clearly does NOT teach 'stewardship' but OWNERSHIP!)

 

Luke 12:13-15

Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

14 But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?"  15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."  NKJV

 

Jesus did NOT tell the older brother to give the younger brother a greater share…he warned the one asking NOT to covet.

Note …'the things he possesses'...... this is not 'referring to stewardship' but OWNERSHIP !

(The main point Jesus makes is that our relationship with God is a far more important focus for life than the accumulation of wealth)

 

 

In the following parable the common ‘stewardship' assumption is that the ‘talent’ which the rich man gave his servant was intended to be a teaching about ‘money’. This scripture does not even imply that we are stewards in a physical sense. The ‘talent’ below is clearly the ministry for the stewardship of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven which had been entrusted to Israel...this is shown in the parallel passage in Luke 19.

 

Matt 25:14-30

14 The Parable of the Talents

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money.  19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 

20 "So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.'  21 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'  22 He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.'  23 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' 

24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' 

26 "But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 

29 'For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'     NKJV

 

This is a parable about what the kingdom of heaven is like. It is NOT a teaching about worldly wealth because Jesus says 'My kingdom is NOT of this world'. The parable uses a natural illustration to show how the spiritual realm works and it is NOT in anyway intended to be a teaching on financial stewardship which is the context in which it is most often presented!

The steward who knew his master ministered and reached people for God....the ones who did not really KNOW God did nothing with the opportunity God gave him.

 

The interpretation comes to light when we see that the talents relate to the REVELATION of the GOSPEL of Grace that was given first to the APOSTLES to share with the world.

1 Cor 4:1    Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.     NKJV

 

This subject of the stewardship of the gospel is confirmed in the parallel verses in Luke (below), where the further details given show that this parable is addressing Israel and its failure to produce the fruit God desired of their stewardship of the covenant God had given them. 

 

Luke 19:11-27

Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.'  14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.' 

..........

24 "And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.'  25 (But they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas.')  26'For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.'"   NKJV

 

This shows that this parable addresses Israel's failure to steward the gospel and their refusal to accept Jesus as their Messiah with the devastating consequences of AD 70!  

(It certainly does not in any way suggest that everyone today is ONLY to consider themselves as a stewards of their personal finances as is being taught)

 

Luke 20:9-16

Then He began to tell the people this parable: "A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time.  10 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed.  11 Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed.  12 And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out. 

13 "Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.'  14 But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.'  15 So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  16 He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others."     NKJV

 

This is again a parable which clearly speaks of Israel’s failure as stewards of the Old Covenant ...and their failure to recognise the Messiah....the same theme is continued through Mat 21 …about the fig tree withering…and the landowner wanting fruit from his vineyard (Israel)

 

Mark 12:9-12

9 "Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others.  10 Have you not even read this Scripture:

'The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone

11 This was the LORD's doing,

And it is marvelous in our eyes'?" 

12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.    NKJV

 

The Jewish religious leaders KNEW that these were parables and that they were spoken against THEM.

There is no relevance to 'financial stewardship' for us as believers today!

 

The ONLY 'stewardship' the apostles ever spoke of in the scriptures was stewardship of the Gospel!

(this is the doctrine the Church is to follow not the 'doctrines of men)

 

 

The STEWARDS addresssed in the New Testament scriptures are the APOSTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CHURCHES...ie elders.

Titus 1:7-9

For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.    NKJV

1 Tim 3:5

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);   NKJV

1 Peter 5:1-3

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;    NKJV
 

 

Please note that he is not a steward of God’s possessions…he is a steward of GOD!  In this role he is to minister the Gospel and to take care of the flock of God... HIS FAMILY.

 

1 Cor 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.    NKJV

 

It is not possible that you are a 'faithful steward' when you are deceiving the sheep about their financial obligations!

  

2 Cor 3:2-6

2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.    NKJV

 

This is our ‘stewardship’...the New Covenant...the message of God's grace ... imprinted on our hearts!

 

1 Peter 4:10-11

10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.    NKJV

 

THIS is the GIFT which God gives His children...freely. It has NOTHING to do with money.

 

1 Cor 9:16-18

6 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.    NKJV

 

If one is 'paid to minister' then one receives rewards here on earth. Can you then also expect to have a reward in eternity? 

 

Col 1:24-26

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.      NKJV

 

Scriptures on possessions by Jesus and Apostles

 

Neither Jesus nor Paul anywhere told people who had wealth that they were only stewards because it actually was God’s wealth…neither did Peter  ...or any of the apostles  . They merely told them to be generous…give to the poor…to use their wealth for eternal purposes....ie showing God's love through us.

 

WHY is this then commonly being taught in churches today?

 

Luke 15:31-32

31 "And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.     NKJV

Note: it IS yours....not  ... 'it belongs to God's and which you are only 'stewards of' ..'

 

Matt 20:13-15

13 But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?'    NKJV

Note: They are according to Jesus ...MY OWN THINGS ie I can do what I WISH WITH them....not something I am merely a 'steward' over.

(The evil eye is the covetous and greedy eye!…according to Jesus!)

 

Prov 28:22

22 A man with an evil eye hastens after riches,

And does not consider that poverty will come upon him.   NKJV          

 

Does this not remind you of Paul’s warning about ‘covetous wolves’? ...who would pursue God's children for money? (Acts 20:33)

 

Acts 5:4

4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."    NKJV

Acts 8:20  

20  ... Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! NKJV

 

Note   In these two passages Peter clearly taught OWNERSHIP....and NOT 'stewardship'  as deceivers so glibly claim the bible teaches....and he would not accept money for ministry!

(How different 'preachers' today who clearly teach that by giving them money you CAN buy the blessing of God)

 

1 Tim 6:17-19

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. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.   NKJV

 

Stewardship proponents please note that Paul did not say…'those who are stewards over much'...but those who ARE rich! Riches are things that BELONG to you!

'Let them' indicates 'freewill' generosity....and not a stewardship obligation!

 

Brethren God wants us RICHLY to ENJOY what we have (1 Tim 6:17) .....not feel guilty about it...or be deceived into thinking that we 'have to' give it away!

  

So what belongs to God

 

Everything…..including our lives, but he lets us ‘possess' our possessions and freely determine what we do with it......and ‘own it’ in our temporal world

God owns the universe as it creator....and we are His!

 

Ps 24:1-2

The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness,

The world and those who dwell therein.

2 For He has founded it upon the seas,

And established it upon the waters.    NKJV

 

God however sanctions and demands the recognition and protection of the personal ownership of that which we have. The clearest proof is contained in the 7th   and 9thCommandments.

 

That is why stealing is a crime….but the problem starts before that with a ‘evil’ or covetous eye.

(the same one which most people in the world sense when they come to into churches today)

 

Deut 5:19

19 'You shall not steal.'     NKJV       (ie do not take that which belongs to another)
 

Deut 5:21

21'You shall not covet your neighbor's wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.'      NKJV

 

(Note…not ‘anything I have given Him or made him steward over'...but anything that IS HIS)

 

But WE are encouraged …out of a love response to His gift of salvation …to commit ourselves to live for Him

 

Mark 12:13-17

13 Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. 14 When they had come, they said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?"

But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it."  16 So they brought it.

And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's."

17 And Jesus answered and said to them,  "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

NKJV

 

Money is ‘of this world’, …it belongs to Caesar… but man…who has God’s image and inscription on him belongs to God. This scripture has NOTHING to do with tithing.....except it confirms that MONEY was NEVER given to God!

 

(Gen 1:26    Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness    NKJV)

 

1 Cor 3:21-23
For all things are yours : 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come all are yours. 23 And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.      NKJV 

 

Rom 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.    NKJV

 

1 Cor 7:23-24

23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.     NKJV

 

This scripture refers to us remaining FREE (of control by others...ie deceiving 'ministers' who seek to 'lord it over' rather than to serve.... or to take rather than to give 2 Cor 11:20 and 2 Cor 12:14 .... as Christ commanded)

 

  

Giving to ‘God’

 

Nowhere in the bible is giving to a church organization EVER equated to giving to God.

Note…Jesus did not tell the rich young ruler to give to His ministry….He said ‘give to the poor!’

Note …Zacchaeus gave money to the POOR…not to Jesus (though he offered Jesus hospitality!)

 

Rom 11:34-35

34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?"  
35'Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?"      NKJV
 

Mat 25..giving to the POOR is equated to giving to Jesus directly....not by giving to a church organisation

Proverbs 19:17 ..pity on the POOR is like lending to the LORD

 

Deut 24:19

19 "When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.   NKJV

  

God blesses the work of those who give to the POOR....by making their WORK even more pruductive

 

Matt 15:4-6
4 For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'  5 But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother,"Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God " —   6 then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.     NKJV
 

Those who claim that our giving to the 'local' churches should come before caring for our families because it is 'giving to God' .... are often by their traditions ROBBING needy families.....and thus stealing from GOD Himself!

 

 

God sets the priorities for our giving in the New Testament

 

First our family's needs (1 Tim 5:4&8)

Second comes our BILLS (Rom 13:7-8)

Third would be giving to the poor (Gal 2:10)

Then Church FAMILY   (Gal 6:10... Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.    NKJV)

Then hospitality and support for expenses to itinerant ministers (who have ministered to us and we FREELY want to support)

Then our own ministries…what ever they may be!

 

  

Misquoted scriptures…the favorite manipulation tools

 

Most preachers have their favorite scriptures…to manipulate you …and leave you with a sense of guilt…so that they can get from you what they COVET (Acts 20 Paul warns the flock about this)

 

Deut 8:11-18

11 "But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and laws. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, 14 that is the time to be careful. Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. 15 Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! 16 He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. 17 He did it so you would never think that it was your own strength and energy that made you wealthy. 18 Always remember that it is the LORD your God who gives you power to become rich, and he does it to fulfill the covenant he made with your ancestors.       NLT 

 

Note this scripture IS addressed specifically to ISRAEL who were under the OLD Covenant…ONLY they received a physical promised land with farms they did not establish and cities they did not build, etc. We as the Gentile church today HAVE NOT been given a 'promised land' here on earth!

"a text out of context is usually a pretext to CON"

 

What about Acts 5 where they sold land and houses and laid it at the feet of the apostles…and had all things in common?

 

Acts 4:32-35

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.    NKJV

 

Firstly this is not something which the New Testament taught them to do…..it was a love response to an overwhelming need…ie how are we going to feed these 3000 new converts from foreign lands…awesome!

 

Secondly this was for a specific SCRIPTURAL purpose…the provision of NEEDS. It was NOT given to the apostles for them to build buildings with…or for their salaries…or TV or any other preaching. It was for FOOD and NECCESSITIES! AND people had the right to demand that it was EQUITABLY distributed!

 

Thirdly this was given and laid at the apostles feet…but GIVEN 100% for NEEDS (in most churches today on average less than 5% is given to  poor. (What proportion of your churches finances go to the poor?.....Please go and investigate)

 

Forthly this relates to the fact that Jesus had promised the imminent ‘TOTAL DESTRUCTION of Jerusalem’…which happened in AD 70. There was no point in keeping spare homes or unused land.

 

Fifthly there is NO scripture teaching Gentile believers to do this …nor was this recorded to have been practiced anywhere else in the New Testament.

 

The apostolic teaching only requires supporting our families...and encourages GENEROSITY to the poor....and support of itinerant ministers!

   

And now ‘the most misrepresented scripture of all' ……

(One which is almost always used in churches worldwide at collection times)

 

Mal 3:8-10

"Will a man rob God?

Yet you have robbed Me!

But you say,

'In what way have we robbed You?'

In tithes and offerings.

9 You are cursed with a curse,

For you have robbed Me,

Even this whole nation.

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,

That there may be food in My house,

And try Me now in this,"

Says the LORD of hosts,

"If I will not open for you the windows of heaven

And pour out for you such blessing

That there will not be room enough to receive it.     NKJV

 

First this scripture is addressed to the Levites and priests…who corrupted the covenant of Levi (Mal 2:9) and offered blemished animal sacrifices.

 

Second it addresses the Levites who brought 10% of the tithes they received from the Israelites to the temple (ie 1% of the total) …this was the ‘Lord’s portion’ (Num18:26)…for the priests in Jerusalem.

 

Third …the curse was borne by Christ on the cross (Gal 3:13)…we cannot now be cursed as New Testament believers

 

Fourth the Law of Moses does not apply to Gentiles (Acts 15)...and according to Jesus tithing was one of the 'matters of the Law'

 

Fifth the tithes were to be FOOD (‘that there may be FOOD in my house’)

 

Sixth we as believers are the temple of God today…He does not dwell in buildings made by human hands

 

Seventh we as believers are ALL priests today….(we should all partake of the tithe…which has been fulfilled in Christ)

 

Eighth the tithe was NEVER money…(starting from Lev 27:30&32….and every other reference confirms this)

 

Ninth the scripture says ‘this whole nation’…it is addressed to ISRAEL exclusively...ie OLD covenant. (also Mal 4:4)

 

Tenth….the ‘storehouse’ was NEVER the local church building or meeting place..it was the TEMPLE in Jerusalem

 

Eleventh the reason for FOOD was to FEED the poor and hungry....not to enrich preachers

 

Twelfth the windows of heaven are RAIN…that which makes crops grow (Gen 7:11)

 

Could 'men of God' be this wrong if they were not blinded by their own greed?

 

How would Jesus rate their stewardship of the GOSPEL and their ministry?

 

(We should all be living to hear 'well sone my good and faithful servant' at the end)