Rev. Fr. G. L. Khing
Every Christian Church insists its members with regard to the payment of ten tithes. It is a willful contribution towards the welfare of the Church for spiritual cause and not something that is negatively forced upon. It is strange that some Churches are becoming burdens to many families by their strong and adverse assertion with regard to tithe collection. Sometimes, Christian burial is denied to those who do not pay tithe. This is not Christian charity. Money seems to speak louder than Christian rites. Is money greater than heaven? No one earns Heaven by means of paying tithe to the Church. No one buys the best seats beside Jesus by payment of tithe in big bundles of money.
A poor family who hardly eats good food and sleeps on good bed may fail to pay their tithe because they are not like the other well-known rich members. Their life depends solely on the provisions of God. Children’s monthly tuition fee is paid by borrowed money. Medical treatment is through the sale of one’s land and property. Yet, the Church comes heavily even on this family. Failure of payment of tithe can occur due to sickness and unforeseen events.
Payment of tithe is necessary, but it should not turn the members of the family into beggars. The Church is the body of Christ to lift up the trodden members and not to push them down to the drainage. There are families who even borrow to pay their tithe for fear of being rejected in the fold of the Church. Sometimes the Church is too cruel even to the suffering members. On the contrary, some Church leaders enjoy their life at the expense of others poverty. Such holy leaders are only answerable before the face of God. No one questions them here on earth.
To lay one’s holy hand into the tiny treasury of the poor people is a sin. This is a silent extortion in the name of God because Nagaland is more Christian inside the Church than outside. Such extortion is made cunningly in a calm and serene way by quoting Bible left and right to evoke the urgency of paying tithe. This is extortion not by undergrounds but by overgrounds (religious leaders). This is “PEKA CHRISTIAN, PEKA CHOR”. Allow the church members to give only what they have. This act will be acceptable to God. Jesus was pleased with the offering of the widow. She dropped just two small copper coins into the treasury of the temple (Mk.12:41-44). Yet she gave with love and prayer; with a clean heart. Respect in the Church should not be bought by the amount of money you donate or give in the form of ten tithes. By being Christian, you have earned your respect and dignity as children of God.
How many Christians show themselves off in the Church? These types of Christians are really “off Christians.” They are called “off Christians” because they do not know how to put ‘on Christian life.’ Today, there are people who boast about their contribution to the church but live the worst life possible beyond the Church compound. The Church leaders add fuel to their life by lifting them high above the sky. The Church knows how to rejoice with the rich and powerful and push the poor souls in the corner.
Payment of tithe is to be given by the person concern willfully and not under spiritual threat or demand. Genesis 28:20-22 narrates the promise of Jacob to give one tenth to God. This was to show his gratitude to God. Likewise, Leviticus 27:30-32 speaks of one tenth of every fruits and animals as belonging to God. Further, Numbers 18:26 speaks of offering to God ten tithes (from the Levites) from the larger collection of tithe presented to them by the Israelites. This necessity arose from their abundance. To prevent the Israelites from possessive behaviour, God gives them such laws so that all are attuned to God. God never asked ten tithes when Israelites were sick and afflicted or hungry and thirsty.
In the New Testament, Jesus condemns the teachers of the law and Pharisees for their strict observance of offering ten tithes to God but never possess good heart. Yes, they have their reward for sure. But they failed miserably in the works of justice, mercy and faithfulness (Mt. 23:23). External obedience to God did not teach them internal values of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, Jesus condemned them to the face. The necessity of giving to God does not mean to neglect helping one’s neighbour. This calls for greater reflection upon our Christian arrogance of strict observance of collecting ten tithes even from the suffering members.
This superciliousness practice is a shame to the Church in general. True Pastors and Church leaders need to be ashamed of such forceful habitual gathering. May be they gather in order to increase their allowance and salary. ”Etu moina/saal laga ten tithes tu bishi ulai she. Iswor ke bishi bishi thanks di ase. Etu nimite pastor laga salary tu olop uthai dibo nagi… Hoi, utha bo lage to.”(Let us Praise the Lord a thousand times for his generosity) No Christian States or countries do like us. May be Nagaland is a rare State. Yes, its members are also exceptional. There are self-acclaimed holy leaders who enjoy the poor men and women’s money in the form of tithe (forceful extortion). We need to stop such forceful and silent extortion if not we become no less than Pharisees and hypocrites.
God is never pleased when injustice is showered upon innocent men and women in HIS name. We may find numerous excuses for our actions but never lends our ears to the excuses of others. Today, many Christians feel reluctant to bring up openly the curse of ten tithe (wrong way/forceful of collecting tithe) because of their social and religious condition. Yet, they suffer silently under the black umbrella of spirituality enforced upon them because they are bound by the law of the Church. Allow every family to enjoy the fruit of their own labour and give to God (ten tithes) joyfully as thanksgiving sacrifice for His bountiful blessings. I wonder why many church leaders extend their long hands to what does not belong to them. Some hands extend even beyond the realm of heaven. God is shocked by such unusual appearance.
The Church and its leaders should not chain Christian families for their own well-being and security. We talk about just Society, just Church and so on. But the existence of such evil practice is never talked about openly because the culprit is the preacher. What is evil will be evil even if you remain silent. I wish and pray earnestly that forceful extortion of ten tithes be considered under spiritual consideration and reflection so that every individual Christian can live good and happy life without infringing the rights and privileges of each other.
This is not to discourage payment of ten tithes to our respective Church. All members are encouraged to pay their tithe as per their ability. But no church should tax its members in a wrong manner. Let kindness and mercy be shown to the poor, the sick and the suffering members. Implementing the will of God and spiritual exercises on Christians has proved to be wrong in many ways in Nagaland. (Be on your guard because there are many churches who can dispose you with bad essence of life).
Let every Church be the real body of Christ here on earth. By this the Kingdom of God is realized in every Christian member. God Bless You All.
With True Christian Spirit.