During my first trip to Church a few weeks back, we received the warmest welcome and my son was enthusiastically signed up to the Sunday school register. I was also told that I would be given a box of envelopes in which we could put our weekly offerings and this was given to me on our second visit.
Now, these envelopes are all numbered and I have now been allocated a number, enabling the Church to monitor the level of my donations. That’s OK I suppose, I haven’t got too much of a problem with them monitoring my generosity (or otherwise).
What I do have a problem with is the text on the envelope, pictured above.
The money that I place in that envelope is money I’m donating to the Church I attend. It has nothing to do with God. For the Church to conflate the issue of it’s own funding with the faith of its congregation is not just disingenuous, but downright sly.
My offering to God is the way I live my inner and outer life.
I am certain in my heart that God couldn’t give two hoots about the content of those little envelopes. This deception angers me, but I needn’t say more because it appears I’m not alone in feeling this way:
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do: but after their works do not: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 All their works they do for to be seen of men: for they make theirphylacteries broad, and make long the fringes of their garments,
6 And love the chief place at feasts, and to have the chief seats in theassemblies,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8 But be not ye called, Rabbi: for one is your doctor, to wit, Christ, and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for there is but one, your father which is in heaven.
10 Be not called doctors: for one is your doctor, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you, let him be your servant.
12 For whosoever will exalt himself, shall be brought low: and whosoever will humble himself, shall be exalted.
13 ¶ Woe therefore be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye shut up the kingdom of heaven before men: for ye yourselves go not in, neither suffer ye them that would enter, to come in.
14 Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye devour widows’ houses, even under a color of long prayers: wherefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe be unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye compass sea andland to make one of your profession: and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell, than you yourselves.
16 Woe be unto you blind guides, which say, Whosoever sweareth by the Temple, it is nothing: but whosoever sweareth by the gold of the Temple, heoffendeth.
17 Ye fools and blind, Whether is greater, the gold, or the Temple thatsanctifieth the gold?
18 And whosoever sweareth by the altar, it is nothing: but whosoever sweareth by the offering that is upon it, offendeth.
19 Ye fools and blind, whether is greater, the offering, or the altar which sanctifieth the offering?
20 Whosoever therefore sweareth by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
21 And whosoever sweareth by the Temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
22 And he that sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth theron.
23 ¶ Woe be to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and leave the weightier matters of the law, as judgment, and mercy and fidelity. These ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25 ¶ Woe be to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye make clean the utter side of the cup, and of the platter: but within they are full of bribery and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe be to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for ye are like unto whited tombs, which appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and all filthiness.
28 So are ye also: for outward ye appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
It’s also very interesting to note that in more recent translations of the text, the meaning of verse 23 is inverted, or at least restructured, to give clear justification to tithing.