The Gospel and Giving
One last point where I see that Nwaka misunderstood biblical teaching is in regards to giving. I do not blame him for many other people also see this as a talking point.
His first point is that when he experienced “rebirth,” he stopped paying tithes, and alas, there were no devourers. Instead, he has now made significant financial progress.
Let me say in passing that I am not a tither. I do not believe that New Covenant believers are under an obligation to give a specific percentage of their income to the church (tithe). What we see from the New Testament is voluntary giving. The tithing system was particular to the agrarian society of the Old Covenant community. (I can’t spill much pen here)
That said, I must remark that biblical giving is not what we do out of fear. The greatest appeal anywhere in the matter of giving is in 2 Corinthians 8:8, 9. “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
The gospel is the premise of Christians giving. Paul is not commanding the Corinthians to give, but he was appealing to them to consider what God in Christ has given to them. In the same way, when he made the point in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that we should no longer live to ourselves, the premise is that Christ has died for us. Gospel giving is not a fear business; it is a gratitude business.
There is a responsibility for stewardship that comes from the fact that everything we have comes from God. “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:14) This is the common grace premise for giving. We give to God because he owns all things and gave us all we have. However, the special grace premise for Christians giving is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for our sakes, he left the glories of heaven to lay down his life for our redemption. Gratitude and love are at the heart of Christian giving.
Nwaka probably grew up in a church where the motive for giving was fear of the consequences of not giving. This is wrong. Am I saying that God cannot judge believers who don’t give? Not at all. God is our father, and he disciplines us as his children. However, even if God disciplines a believer for not giving, the product of that discipline is to lead him to give because of the gospel. Of course, there are some times where the fear of God is the motivation for which we take some actions. However, Paul insists in 2 Corinthians 9 that when we think of giving, it is the cross that must motivate us.
Related to this point, we must never use the fact that pastors are living large to attack Christian giving. If you attend a church where you believe the Pastors are unfaithful with the money, you should leave. However, you should not use the fact that one Pastor somewhere is unfaithful to the church’s funds as a premise for you not giving to your church. A Christian should make all efforts to be a good steward of God’s resources, which means giving to churches that are faithful to the gospel and the money. The fact that some Pastors are unfaithful to God is not a justification for not giving to your church. Also, giving to charities and others is not a replacement for giving to the church. They are not mutually exclusive. We give to charities, neighbors, everyone who needs our help. However, we also give to the church as the covenant people of God. We give because of the gospel. We give because our hearts are in the work of God – the expansion of his kingdom here on earth.
Will any of the above convince Nwaka? I don’t know. Yet, I hope that even if he rejects Christianity, he will reject orthodox, historic Christian Faith and not the version of it that we see all around in our country.
In his article, I see someone open to discussion. He is more of an agnostic. I can only hope that all the above will spur some profitable discussions. I also hope that all of the above will also stimulate some conversations that will help present-day Christians think more biblically about the faith we confess to believe.