Fasting & Tithing: Blessing-bringers or Burdens?
by Patricia Backora
Through this collection of well-researched
articles and parables I hope to help separate the wheat of God’s Word from the chaff of distorted fasting and tithing
doctrines circulating in the Charismatic church world. Some doctrines are legitimate and have their place. But problems arise when peripheral doctrines (doctrines not essential to salvation) dominate a believer’s
life. In order to exalt one thing, something else must “take a lower seat”
(Luke 14:9). Minor doctrines (or false traditions) which take the believer’s
focus off “Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor.1:30-31; 2:2) have become harmful to the Christian faith, not helpful.
Some practices are permissible.
Others are mandatory, such as “love one another” (I John 4:7-8). Still other teachings are downright harmful,
because they spring from false manmade traditions instead of from the heart of God. Modern tithing doctrine is an unscriptural
heresy and an aberration from the practice of the First Century church. The apostles
taught free-will giving to relieve poverty in their midst. The apostles NEVER taught monetary tithing. This doctrine of devils never appears in either testament.
It is a sin for modern ministers to put this burden on their congregations.
A harmless, permissible practice
(such as occasional fasting) becomes a harmful doctrine when it is blown up out of proportion and elevated to a requirement
of Christian discipleship. Christians who fast or make other ascetic “sacrifices” might
begin to rely on their own works instead of solely upon the merits of Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary to keep them in right standing
with God. Always present is the temptation to force God’s hand through
self-affliction. Some think that God delights in such suffering, and the bigger the suffering the bigger the reward. Ascetic Christians sometimes disparage non-fasting Christians for being “worldly”
and for failure to “crucify their flesh”.
It is then that pharisaical pride
takes over and brotherly love goes out the window. A faster’s empty stomach
(or even a sacrificial giver’s pocket) can conceal a heart bloated with pride and arrogance. A personal goal to give at least ten percent of one’s income to church or charitable causes
becomes a bone of contention and a source of strife within the church world when it is enforced as being a binding requirement.
Legalism is the spirit of slavery,
and God has called His dear children to liberty in Christ Jesus (Gal.4:21-31; 5:1).