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Billboards, Slot Machines, and Robbing God

We’ve all seen the billboards – “Are you robbing God?”

I cringe as I pass by. Is God really up in heaven demanding our money? Is he like a Divine Slot Machine that you pour the quarters into, pull the handle down, and out come the blessings? Some of us Christians are growing wise to the pressure and manipulation that have been out there far too long. Looking back to Old Testament book of Malachi and demanding 10% from your church is a move no pastors should be making, even worse if it’s accompanied by the promise of “payback” from God. 

Some of the larger churches in America have begun offering a “money back guarantee” on what they call a Three-Month Tithing Challenge. If you don’t get your money back (in cash or equivalent blessings) from God within three months, you get a full refund.

Hmm…now who wants to be the guy that approaches the church staff saying, “Well, I gave it a try and nothing happened.” You know what’s coming next, “Well, brother, you just didn’t have enough faith,” or even more disconcerting, “You did experience God’s blessings, but you just need to open your eyes to them.” No one wants to be the guy lacking faith or living blind to God, so you can bet that the money back guarantee ends up being a real winner for churches.

Should we be putting a time limit on God’s blessings? Where do we get the idea that God promises to burst on the scene within three months to honor our deals? In the end, isn’t it about giving cheerfully according to needs that we see and according to what we can afford to give (2 Cor. 8:11-14; 9:7)?

Many of us Christians are tired of hearing that we need to “give until it hurts.” We know better. The simple truth is that tithing is rooted in the Jewish Law, and most of us Christians are what the Bible calls Gentiles (non-Jews). We Gentiles were never given the Jewish law (Rom 2:14). We were never invited to that table.

Some will note that Abraham offered a tenth to an Old Testament priest Melchizedek before the law. Therefore, they claim that tithing preceded the law and is still mandatory for us today. But the reality is that Abraham killed people and stole their belongings and then offered a tenth of his spoils of war to the ancient priest that he honored. Should we Christians really imitate this act, going to war with people groups and dragging a tenth of our loot onto the church lawn?

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Dr. Andrew Farley is senior pastor of Ecclesia ChurchWithoutReligion.com, an evangelical Bible church that has resided on the high plains of west Texas for more than 55 years. Andrew is the bestselling author of "The Naked Gospel" and "God Without Religion." Andrew's writings have been featured in national news and media outlets including PBS, CBS, and FOX News. Andrew serves as a faculty adviser for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and he frequently speaks to Christian university groups like Campus Crusade for Christ and at churches around the United States and in Canada. Visit AndrewFarley.org to download free chapters of Andrew's books.