As we've seen over and over again, preachers who push the nonsensical "first-fruits tithing doctrine" are willing to use Jesus, use the Bible, use their celebrity status - use anything and everything at their disposal to convince Christians that forking over a minimum of 10% of their income is the pathway to favor with God.
Case in point: this past weekend Perry Noble used an important verse in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and declared that it is about specifically about tithing.
"When He says 'seek first'...Jesus is specifically talking about our finances. He is saying 'seek first, put God first'. People who say that tithing does not exist in the New Testament simply misunderstand this verse. Jesus is specifically referring to the tithe."
So darn it, Christians for centuries simply have misunderstood the Sermon on the Mount. Perry now helps us finally see the hidden message: Jesus wants us to tithe 10% to the church.
"Jesus said 'seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness' and what's the rest of that verse say? 'And all these things' - all what things? Money, clothes, food. 'And all these things will be added to you.'"
Jesus' teaching to "seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness" was not a prescription for tithing so you can have your needs met. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Old Testament practice of tithing. One could better make the case that Jesus was referring to the practice of circumcision before claiming he was referring to the tithe! Jesus was teaching his followers to forsake the pursuit of temporal possessions on earth and replace those with pursuits of eternal significance - like those things Jesus prayed for in the model prayer earlier in Matthew 6.
But megachurch preachers can't preach what Jesus actually was saying, because they might have to lead the way in forsaking their enormous incomes and lavish lifestyles. So Perry just conveniently says Jesus was referring to the tithe.
But on the bright side, Perry gave the best advice I've heard from him, immediately following the Sermon on the Mount scripture twisting. Perry said:
"Close your eyes and run."
Yes, close your eyes and run away from Perry's church and his teachings on this subject.
"Close your eyes and run" was Perry's advice to blindly trust his scripture interpretation about the absolute necessity of Christians to tithe. Perry was telling his peeps that if you even the slightest inkling that you should not be tithing 10%, or that your circumstances dictate something less than that or even nothing at all - Perry says you should just blindly close your eyes, and run - that is start forking over the money and trust God to feed you and clothe you.
Sorry, Perry, we are not bound to Old Testament laws of tithing and sacrifices and circumcision to earn favor with God, or to receive blessings and provisions from God. It doesn't matter how you often try to say it or how much scripture you trample over to convince us; it just ain't so.
As we learned in E-church this weekend, from Wade's excellent sermon, Christians have the greatest law written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that directs our lives, even how and when we give our finances:
"For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Heb 10: 14-16
So open your eyes and run, Christian, from this legalism taught by Perry Noble and others concerning your finances. Instead, follow the law of love, and give where, when, and to whom the Spirit leads you. And when you do give, be generous, and do it cheerfully.
And for sure, when a manipulative preacher tries to get you to give under compulsion:
Close your ears and run.