Faithfully Thinking: Is it true God only blesses you if you give money to the church? Can God be bought?

I was listening to a sermon Sunday and the sermon was good until the guest pastor got a little too excited in his bid to convince people to give to the year-end offering the church holds and said “Are you not getting a breakthrough (the new Christian buzzword, in case you don’t know) or aren’t seeing the blessings you think you should? Maybe it’s because you aren’t tithing (In Christianese this means giving to the church) what you should be.”

He went on to suggest people need to give money to the church or they will remain stuck in their negative situations. This rubbed me the wrong way, of course, not because I don’t think we should give money to the church. On the contrary, I do believe in tithing and I do believe that God provides us with our money and we should, therefore, give it back to him. What I don’t like is when pastors link that giving to receiving blessing or answers to prayers, from God.

Are they suggesting God can be bought? That God can be manipulated into doing what we want because we give money to his church?. And is it really his church if pastors are telling people they can only be blessed if they pay cash (or they accept VISA and MasterCard too.)?

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It reminds me of these clickbait emails I get from a well-known pastor with subject titles like “Do this one thing and your prayers will be answered.” Or “Five steps to get your healing.” I never even open those emails. That whole vending machine mentality, as I’ve said before, drives me crazy.  It’s like: “Slide this ritual in and get an answered prayer out.”

Is this really what Christianity has become? Some vapid, self-serving, misleading lip service to get clicks and social media rankings? Does God really only answer our prayers if we pray this way or worship that way or give our money to a specific church? I don’t remember reading in the Bible that God only provides if you write a check to a well-known, internationally reaching church, though I do feel giving to the church (as a whole, not a specific one necessarily) is important, especially in a day and age of such absurdity and craziness going on.

My big worry is someone hearing what this pastor said and starting to believe that if they give all their money to the church their cancer will be healed, their husband will stop cheating, or their father won’t be an alcoholic anymore. What happens when their cancer progresses instead? What happens when their husband tell them he wants a divorce? What happens when their father dies in a drunk driving accident? Despite the money they gave.

Will they feel they didn’t work enough, do enough, spend enough to have their situation changed?

What message is that sending? “Come all you who labor and are heavy burdened…but bring your wallets because only then will God give you rest.”? I’m pretty sure that’s not what Matthew 11:28-30 says.

It says: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

His burden is light. He doesn’t want to put more burden on you. He wants to help make what you carry through life easier. So why is the church heaping more burdens, in the form of guilt, on its people?

The Church preaches that Jesus died on the cross for everyone and the salvation that his sacrifice provided us is free. They’ll say that you don’t have to do anything to earn that salvation, to receive it, or God the Father’s love, but in the same breath, they’ll hinge your healing, your life change, your unanswered prayers on whether or not you gave money to the church. Something about that doesn’t sit right with me. There has to be a better way to explain that the church needs financial support, so it can continue to help those within and outside its walls without attaching guilt to it.

Oh, wait, that was it. Just say that. Just say: “We need your financial support to help reach those in need and spread the gospel. Give what you can, when you can. Prayerfully consider what you can give and give what you feel God wants you to.”

Remove the guilt. Remove the contingencies. Remove the false teaching that God will not bless you if you don’t give to the church during their once a year giving session. Remove the month-long sermon series to sway listeners to give you their money. It smacks more of manipulation than honesty to me and many others.

Don’t manipulate your church into giving money by acting like you can manipulate God. Don’t lay down little pieces of bread of life-supporting goodness in your sermon just so you can tie it all up with a reminder that next week is the week to open your pocketbooks.

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The one good thing the pastor who spoke this weekend said was to give only what you can give – though he ruined it by adding whatever was given needed to be a sacrifice, which to me still sounds like he’s suggesting church members should give beyond their means if they want their blessing or their “breakthrough.”

We, as a church, need to stop hinging blessings and breakthrough on performance.

We need to stop hinging healing on writing a check.

We need to stop acting like we can buy God off.

No, we shouldn’t stop telling the congregation the church needs them to give and that God does want them to give so the church can continue its work. But when people start believing their illness, their loss, their difficult situation is based on what they didn’t do or didn’t say, we have a communication problem.

I don’t think that’s the message God wanted pastors to pass on — that they didn’t do enough or weren’t enough to be healed, to be saved.

God does love us and he does want to provide for us and it delights him to answer our prayers but we don’t have to do anything for him to do that.

We do not have to be saved by our works because Jesus already did the work for us.

Give to your church what you can give, support their ministries and make giving money a regular act, but never feel that if you are stuck in a situation it is because you didn’t give or do enough.

God never asks us to do or be enough because he is enough through us.

Written by Lisa R. Howeler

As a writer, photographer and former journalist, Lisa R. Howeler writes a little bit about everything on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She self-published her first novel, A Story to Tell, in September 2019 on Amazon. She's a wife and a mother and enjoys a good John Wayne movie and a cozy Jan Karon book. She's also a freelance writer and photographer who is a contributor to various stock agencies, including Lightstock and Alamy. Her photography work focuses on documentary and photojournalism.

13 comments

  1. I found myself nodding yes over and over again as I was reading your post. I’m not saying that pastor was a prosperity preacher (gosh, they make me cringe), but he came across that way by linking prayer to sacrificial giving. I just finished leading a ladies Bible study on prayer and we discussed how God can not be bought or manipulated into answering our prayers the way we want. We give as a way to thank our sovereign God for all He’s done for us, we give back a portion of what is truly His anyway, we give because we want to spread the Gospel and lead those who don’t know Jesus into His saving grace. We don’t give for ourselves. Okay, I’m stepping down from my soapbox now. But I just wanted you to know how much I agreed and applaud your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I feel bad I sort of threw this pastor under the bus because the rest of the sermon really focused on what to do when we feel like we are in a holding pattern in our life and how to live out the calling God has for us – whether it be taking care of the kids or preaching or writing or whatever it is. So I made it sound like his whole sermon was based on that and it wasn’t but he blurted out what a lot of pastors do without thinking or clarifying. I’ve heard similar things preached at this church that have bothered me a bit but I would in no way call it one of those prosperity churches – those creep me out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow! That would have rubbed me the wrong way, too. I like how you referred to it as “manipulating God” because that’s what I was thinking. It’s almost as if they’re saying “if you don’t give me money you’re life is going to be horrible”. What a terrible way to beg for money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In defense of the church and the pastor – I don’t know they think this way but it’s the way it came out. And normally they don’t preach this way. The pastor and the guest pastor seem to be good people but I think they got a little too excited

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jesus praised the poor widow for her donation of two mites (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4), so he did recognize the spirit of sacrifice (he pointed out that it was no sacrifice to the rich who donated abundantly). Presumably the widow was blessed in whatever God knew she needed, but not as a business transaction for a particular divine service.

    Paying tithes and offerings was never an issue for me, because in my church, there are no paid clergy, although some expenses are reimbursed (such as in a travel stipend for church leaders who must spend much of their time in airplanes, and mileage and the cost of out-of-pocket purchases by seminary teachers for instructional materials not provided by the church). Church funds are used for building and maintaining meetinghouses and temples, humanitarian aid, subsidies for missionaries who cannot afford the whole cost of serving a mission, publishing, broadcasting and other technology, and services like the genealogical archives that are available free to the public.

    In Jesus’ day, donations were still also taken “in kind,” in the sacrificial offerings of animals as a symbol of the personal sacrifice he would make. Tithing is not one of the ten commandments, but it is taken as evidence of willingness to sacrifice in obedience to the commandments of God, so in my church it’s used as a qualification for obtaining a credential called a temple recommend, which admits its holder to attend the worship services held in temples. Christians don’t sacrifice animals, but to God, money donations remain an acceptable symbol of sacrifice.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The way I see it, God is the owner of everything there is, which he entrusts to us as a stewardship, and that includes liquid assets. This is why we feel a responsibility to ensure that how we use those resources is in accordance with God’s goals. I never missed the ten percent of my income I gave (plus an additional monthly offering of the price of two meals, which I based on what it would cost to eat out for breakfast and lunch – our church members are free to calculate that value however they want), because I knew where the money was going: to provide some of the blessings to others that are a part of God’s plans to provide for his children while they’re on Earth – which, as you said, is something he does independently of any other consideration. The Bible does tell about times when God did directly reward righteousness, and often as a direct answer to prayer, but as I mentioned in my comment in your previous post about prayer, we don’t always recognize how God answers prayers, or in the case of the topic under discussion here, how he bestows his blessings. I’m not sure why Christians so often seem to get confused about these things.

        Thank you for providing opportunities to discuss the experience of faith along with other practicalities of life. I like the “safe place” feeling here. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like the exchange and sharing ideas of it here and I hope people feel it is a safe space. Even if they don’t agree with me at some point. I like hearing (reading) opinions similar or different to my own because they make me think and sometimes they even make me think differently about an issue.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Preach it!!! Thank you for posting about this, especially at the end of the year when giving gets an extra push. You make excellent points! I love your focus on giving so the church can continue its mission, not to cross something off a spiritual checklist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I worried about posting this because I don’t want it to seem like I don’t think we should give to the church or that I think all pastors are looking for money to further themselves. Many aren’t. Some of them have good intentions and the money goes where it needs to go, but they don’t need to use the guilt tactics to get the money they need, in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. AMEN! Awesome sermon, preach! There a lot of phony prosperity preachers out there and I am real sick of hearing their false preaching full of lies. They act as if God owes them something and they treat Him like a genie. I call them money preachers because all they preach about is money and wearing nice clothes. It’s crazy so many people fall for it. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

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