Money, Grace, and a Thai Sermon
In Thai churches, there is a lot of misunderstanding about the nature and purpose of giving money to God. Some people think that God requires 10% of their income and if they don't give it, they are sinning. Even more common is the idea that if I give to God, He will bless me. This transactional mentality is likely a holdover from the animism that is so prevalent in Thai folk Buddhism, where people make specific ritual offerings to spirits in order to get specific desired blessings. But then again, human nature left to its own devices can also come up with the "give-to-get" approach to God.
The crass idea that you can get stuff from God by giving stuff to Him is further propagated by prosperity gospel teachers who urge people to give money to God (through their anointed ministries, of course) as a way to demonstrate that they have enough faith to receive their desired blessings. The larger the amount of money, the more faith you have. Or so they say.
In light of all this confusion and bad teaching that is circulating in Thai churches, I was encouraged to hear a sermon from one of my Bangkok Bible Seminary colleagues about the nature and purpose of offering. Under the new covenant, Christians are not obligated to give a tithe, but we are to give with humility and gratitude. We are not to come to God pridefully, boasting about how much we are giving to Him. Because all that we have has come from God in the first place, we have no right to demand anything from God in return for giving to him. Instead we humble ourselves before him with gratitude for the grace that has already been given to us. And whatever we give to God, we do it joyfully, with hearts of praise and humility.
The best way to combat false teaching in the church is with a positive statement of biblical teaching that turns our attention upon the grace of God and the truth of His Word. Sometimes, of course, it is necessary to address and criticize false teaching directly. But helping people to know God and his Word is by far the best and primary protection against falsehood.
For my blog readers who understand Thai, I include below the MP3 of Professor Somchai's sermon for your own listening benefit, and also to download and pass on to Thai brothers and sisters who would benefit. Listen online by using the embedded audio player or download the sermon by right clicking on "MP3" and saving the file.
"การถวายภายใต้พระคุณ" โดย อ. สมชาย ส่องทางธรรม