When Jackee Charles got saved in 2007, many things changed in her life but not her manner of giving. She continued to spend all her salary on herself and on bills, and never tithed. But she would always come short and struggle financially until the next pay cheque. She couldn’t put a finger on the cause of her financial struggle.
One day in 2010, she shared her financial difficulties with Jenny, her friend from South Africa, who immediately asked her: “Do you tithe?” A shocked Jackee replied: “I don’t.”
Her friend advised her to start putting aside one-tenth of her monthly salary and take it to her church. “That was a real test for me and I wondered if what remained would be enough to take care of my needs,” she says.
Bit by bit she began tithing. She would tithe one month and skip another and noticed there was a difference. She says she never lacked money in the months she tithed and that she felt strong spiritually. Whenever she failed to tithe, she would always be short of money.
The question her friend asked her kept ringing in her ears: “Do you tithe?” Finally in 2012, she made a painful but gainful decision: “I realised whatever I have belongs to God and if He requires that I give Him only 10 per cent, that shouldn’t be a struggle. That was my turnaround.”
Like Jackee, many believers struggle with the issue of tithing today. Those who have discovered the blessings that come with tithing do it faithfully. But many believers remain skeptical and rarely give 10 per cent of their income to the churches they attend.
John Wekesa is a faithful tither. It is a spiritual habit that took him about 10 years to cultivate. He got saved in 2004, but never gave tithing much thought until 2014.
He says he got a “revelation” on the need to tithe when he attended a church conference in 2014. “It dawned on me that I was robbing God of what rightfully belonged to Him. This was not consistent with the demand I used to make that corrupt government officials be jailed,” he says.
He says that before he started tithing, he used to be in “deep debt”. Wekesa, a contractor, says he would get a contract but after working for some time, the owner would inexplicably give the job to another person.
“I was always on the losing side. I thought I was bewitched till I got a revelation and began tithing. I’ve never lacked money and my spiritual life is now making sense,” says the father of four – one boy and three girls.
Both Jackee and Wekesa say they tithe from their gross income. “The first thing I do when I get my salary is set aside the tithe. Financial struggle is now a thing of the past. God has opened other financial avenues for me apart from my monthly earnings and the blessings are amazing,” says Jackee, a member of praise and worship team in her church in Nairobi.
On his part, Wekesa says other than tithing from his monthly income, he also tithes any other money he receives, including money someone blesses him with.
Jackee describes tithing as her “security” and says her pocket never runs empty. She says the Lord has protected her from diseases and misfortunes.
“Apart from the normal blessings and healing that are evident when one tithes, there are also several spiritual benefits. Prayer and Bible study becomes sweet and devoid of struggles,” says Wekesa.
Wekesa admits that he used to be cynical about giving to his church because there was lack of financial accountability. For instance, he says members gave money to purchase land to build the church a few years ago. He says the land was never bought and he has never known what happed to the project and how the money was spent.
“This kind of made me reluctant to give but I overcame that when I realised God wants me to give faithfully and leave the rest to Him,” he says.
But the story has not been so for Jemimah, a single mother of two girls, and Catherine, who both sell food items in Huruma, Nairobi. To them, the burden has to do with calculating the tithe.
“Sometimes it is very difficult to calculate the income because I get money and spend it quickly on something. At the end of the day, when I calculate my income, I realise there is some cash I received and used maybe to buy lunch for my kids or give to my daily chama. So I only give an offering; I can’t lie to you that I’m a tither,” says Jemimah.
Catherine concurs that calculating the tithe from her income is a big headache. “I know God requires that I tithe but I know He is also a God of mercy. In church, I give as I feel led and not under law. I don’t think I must tithe to be accepted by God. I also don’t want to give this month then fail to give another month; that would be hypocrisy,” she says.
Both believe that for one to be financially blessed, one must work hard, attend church faithfully, and pray always, whether or not one tithes. “I can’t say I’m doing badly in matters finance because God has been faithful to me. I don’t live in debt or lack and whatever I do, I put God first,” says Jemimah, who is a women’s leader in her local church.
To give or not give tithe is one issue that has divided Christians down the middle. While some believe it is a scriptural requirement they should obey, others see it as an Old Testament obligation that does not bind New Testament believers.
But Rev Cyrus Manje Kariuki says that believers who don’t give 10 per cent of their total income to church are not just robbing God but live under curse.
“Tithing is part of worship and one cannot say one is a believer in Christ and yet doesn’t believe in tithing. That faith has a question mark,” says Manje, an assistant pastor at St Francis ACK in Karen, Nairobi.
Manje faults those who hold the opinion that tithing was a preserve of Old Testament people, saying it was practised way back before the law of Moses and that there is nowhere the Bible says it ceased with the coming of Christ.
He says just as no government on earth can function without taxes, God’s work cannot be done if people don’t tithe.
“Remember, we don’t give tithe, we pay tithe just as we do with taxes. Tithe belongs to God and when He demands we give Him what is His, why do we take offence?” he asks.
Manje says tithe is paid on gross income. “Some have not heard the message of tithing while others are just stingy. The second category of people consists of those who insist tithing is not for us today. Every believer must decide either to obey God or to live in defiance,” he admonishes.
He says he has been a regular tither since 1984 and has enjoyed its manifold benefits. “Just as Malachi says, God has rebuked devourers for me and my family and prospered us in ways hard to explain. Recently, a man just gave us one-acre plot for free where I now live and you just know how costly land is today. And that is not all…,” he says.
Since 1987, Manje has been teaching about the benefits of giving, which consists of tithing, offering and seed sowing. Different churches have been inviting him to preach about tithing and he says the churches have testified of the transformation in their congregations after the teachings.