I must honestly admit that there was a time in my life (I was not a
priest then) when I would boldly stand to preach with the
microphone and I will speak these following words authoritatively:
“If you are not paying your tithe, you are not only robbing God but
incurring upon yourselves heavy curses. So many difficulties that
you are having right now in your life can be traced to your refusal
to paying tithe. Read your Bible, it is there in Malachi.”
I thought I was saving souls from damnation. I thought I was
opening their eyes to seeing that why they suffer sickness, delayed
marriages, demonic attack etc is because they withheld their
tithes. So for a long time, I held it as not just an obligation but a
mandate to constantly talk about tithing especially in those strong
I was wrong.
Few years ago after I got to understand the right teaching on tithe,
my younger sister got a job immediately after her secondary
school as she awaits university admission. She just wanted to
keep busy or else there would have been no need for the job. Her
salary was N10,000. In a month she spent more than N20,000 for
transport and feeding. My Dad was paying for that. Then, once she
collects her salary, the first thing she does is to pay her tithe.
Paying her tithe was not the problem. The problem was why the
tithe was paid.
She paid tithe because she was scared that God will curse her and
the curse will affect her future, especially in marriage, having
children, being perpetually poor etc. Her success and failure in life
depended on the payment of tithe.
She paid tithe because the idea of robbing the “Almighty” scares
her to death. She will always be restless until the tithe is paid, it
does not matter if there is a dying person close to her that needs
little financial help or if she will starve that month at work.
It struck me deeply because we were very close. I could not even
talk her out of it, she would have seen me as being used by the
This for me was prison. This was brainwashing. This was not why
the people of Antioch called Christ’s followers Christians. In short,
this is not Christianity.
If your reason(s) for paying tithe is close to my younger sister’s, I
say this very respectfully, you have been brainwashed, and indeed
negatively. And I must say this, the biggest progress you will make
is to get liberated from seeing God that way.
Let us not blame preachers of tithe totally. The graphic image of
Malachi 3:8-9 can be scary. Some ministers feel they will be failing
in their responsibility if they don’t stress tithing. Take your time
and read it word by word. It says:
8.”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
Scary, isn’t it???
The point we often miss in this passage and many other passages
of the Bible when interpreting is that we are often quick to apply
them to our life without first asking the basic question of exegesis.
We are often quick to apply curse meant for another as though it’s
ours, and blessing meant for others as if it’s ours.
That basic question of exegesis is: who are the first audience? To
put it in another way, whom was it originally written to and what
A sincere quest to answer that question will take you to Nehemiah
Chapters 9 and 10. If you can take your time to read that passage,
you will see that the people of Israel all assembled, and on their
own VOLITION and WILLINGNESS and without COERCION made
promises to God. They called it a “firm agreement” about what
they will be offering God every year. They made these promises in
I will quote some of the agreements they made in Nehemiah 10.
Remember, they made this freely…
Verse 32: “We also LAY on OURSELVES the OBLIGATION to charge
ourselves yearly ONE THIRD of a SHEKEL for the service of the
house of our God.”
Verse 35: “We OBLIGATE OURSELVES to bring the FIRST FRUITS of
our soil and the first fruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year.”
Verses 36,37,38: “Also we OBLIGATE OURSELVES to bring to the
house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our
God, the FIRSTBORN of our sons and of our livestock. . .And to
bring to the LEVITES the TITHE from our soil. . .And the priest, the
descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the LEVITES
shall RECEIVE the TITHES.”
So, when the Israelites were NOT keeping all they wrote and swore
to do, especially with paying tithe and when the Levites were not
bringing the tithe of the tithes to the store house of God, it
necessitated those words from Malachi that they were robbing
God. Other version used “defrauding,” “afflicting” etc, of course
when you make a promise and adamantly violate it, what is it
That passage was NOT IN ANYWAY referring to the present
Christians whom through the death of Christ on the cross brought
forth a new dawn, as such, a new covenant. In this new covenant,
tithe is no where emphasized.
If we are to pay tithe in the way the Jews do, then. . .
1. First, we must have Levites: It is only the Levites that collects
tithes. And he does this in the presence of the priest (Nehemiah
10:37). They are given this mandate because they have no
inheritance (Deuteronomy 14:28). No Nigeria priest or pastor
qualifies to be Levites in the strict sense of the word. To be a
Levite, you must be from the tribe of Levi. Levites still exist till
date, but they don’t believe that Jesus is God unlike priests and
pastors in our churches.
2. In Deuteronomy 14:22 tithes are supposed to be paid annually.
If we are really interested in following the Bible strictly, then it
can’t be monthly even if you claim you are paid monthly.
3. The Israelite don’t just drop their tithe and leave. No! In
Deuteronomy 14: 23-26 you are mandated to eat your tithe with
the poor, the orphans, etc.
It is usually the tithe of your tithe (10% of your tithe) that the
Levites collect and take to the store house of God. (Nehemiah
10:38). For example, assuming your tithe is N100, N10 will be
taken to the store house, the remaining N90 is what you will eat
with the poor.
4. In payment of tithe, it will interest us to know that if you have
money to pay, you don’t pay with money. You have to use the
money and buy things of your choice and eat it with the poor,
orphans, those in need etc (Deuteronomy 14:23-26). Why do we
pay money and yet still want to follow the Bible?
You may take your time to read up those passages in the bible.
“Fr Kelvin Ugwu, are you simply saying that we should stop paying
tithe, and that tithe boxes and tithe Sundays in our churches are
It is our Christian duty to support our ministers and our church. It
is also our Christian duty to support the poor. Many ministers will
argue that tithe could be a means of supporting the church and
missions. This is fine.
On the other side, so many Christians today have faith paying their
tithes. So many people have got one or two testimonies on how
tithe works for them. We all have different ways we relate with our
So, Fr Kelvin is only telling you that if you are paying tithe,
understand that it is about you and your God, anyone quoting
Malachi to persuade you, is ignorant. Now read that again. It
should not be because you want to avoid being cursed. God does
not do that. Again, no one should make another feel emotional guilt
or feel sinful because he or she is not doing as you do. The person
may have other ways he or she is supporting his ministers and
church. There is no strict rule about it.
People give God their talent, time, gifts, hearts. It is not just about
money. What makes you think you are better and more blessed
than that woman that silently cleans the church every Mondays
simply because you come out with an envelope for tithe on Sunday
while she did not?
God is not as wicked as some people will make you believe. Some
humans can cast you to hell because you did not pay tithe,
whereas, God is not even aware you have done anything wrong.
Now, following Matthew 25, we shall be judged by how we help the
poor. In fact, the easiest way to rob God is to neglect the poor.
God doesn’t demand a fixed amount of money from us. He wants
us to give from our heart. As such, people can even give more than
10% or less. If people are forced to give a certain percentage of
their money, that is extortion, it’s fraud. Don’t let anyone make you
feel unnecessary guilt.
I must honestly admit that there was a time in my life (I was not a