by Tad Lindley
The 2019 Alaska PFD is $1,606. Some folks might get angry at me for writing about giving some of their dividend to God. Understand that I stand to gain nothing. Nobody who reads this article will send me their tithe (and if someone does it just to prove me wrong, I will just take it and put it in the offering at church for them).
The first cut of your PFD
If you love the Lord, there is no question about where the first cut of your PFD is going to go. You already know that the Bible teaches that the first tenth, the “tithe”, goes to the pastor of your church. Abraham gave tithes to the high priest Melchizadek (Genesis 14, Hebrews 7:1, 2, 6). Jacob promised to give God a tenth of everything (Genesis 28:22). When God met Moses on Mount Sinai, he included tithing as part of the lifestyle of the Jewish people (Leviticus 27:30-33). The Pharisees tithed even down to the plants in their herb gardens (Matthew 23:23). Jesus said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). This means that if you are a Christian, you will give more than a tenth of your dividend and any other income you earn. To do anything else would be to rob God (Malachi 3:8-10).
If your PFD is $1,606 that means that you will give the first $160.60 as tithe. Dads, if you are Christian, you will give the first $160.60 from every dividend the family receives as tithe. It is just the same as it is when you get your paycheck. The first ten per cent, before the IRS gets its cut, is given as tithe.
What if a person is on welfare?
Perhaps you are out of work right now and are on welfare. It might seem unfair of me to ask you to take money and support your pastor and your church with it. Actually, the quickest way to get off of welfare is to tithe on everything that you receive. Don’t believe me? Believe God: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this”, says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”. (Malachi 3:10) If you tithe, you will live far, far better on 90% of your income than you used to on all of it.
Even unbelievers can be blessed by tithing!
I have a good friend who as an adult moved in with his mother. He had a lot of debt and wanted to get out from under it. He was leading a worldly lifestyle, and never came to church. As a condition of moving back in with mom, he had to give the first ten percent of his paychecks to the church whether or not he attended. The financial results were phenomenal. Even though it didn’t seem possible, his loans were quickly paid off and he was able to get set up on his own. I’m not talking about Alabama where you might be able to get by on $2 a day. This happened in Bethel! God blesses giving.
Handling all that money
I know it’s not you, it’s the next guy, but some people have difficulty handling that much money in one shot. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are many enterprises that would like to move the dividend from your pocket into their pocket. The card games want your PFD, 4-5-6 wants your PFD, marijuana wants your PFD, Copenhagen wants it, and so does the Bethel liquor store and even your local heroin sales associate. On top of that, many legitimate businesses are interested in getting their cut. Too often, by the time we get to dishing out the dividend, there is not much left for God.
Where tithes don’t go
In the Bible, tithes are brought to the house of God. In the Old Testament they went to the temple, or the synagogue. In the New Testament, they came into the place where the church was meeting and brought their offerings, which were in some cases not 10%, but 100% (I Corinthians 16:2). The Bible pattern is clear; the tithe goes to the local church. It does not go to T.D. Jakes or any other TV preacher. It does not go to evangelists or any other traveling preacher. Even if I come to your church and preach (unless I move there to live and am your pastor) do not give me your tithe. Your tithe goes to the pastor of the church you attend. If you happen to live in a community where there is no church that teaches the Bible, then give your tithes at the place you do attend when you travel and can get to church. If you want to give money to a traveling preacher do so, but let it be above and beyond your tithes; tithes go to your home church.
Where tithes do go
Tithing is used to support the pastor and to pay for the electricity and heat for the church building. Some of you readers are picturing the flashy televangelist with five gold rings, wife wearing pearls, and both of them decked out in thousand dollar outfits. Change that picture in your mind. Replace it with a man who bears the spiritual weight not only of his own family, but of his entire community. He gets up before the rest of the village and is busy studying the word and calling out the names of the families in prayer. He is expected to help at all times and to be all things to all people. And yet there are pastors in our region who are on welfare, because the church is too stingy to give the pastor their tithes. This should not be. On top of it, when a church chooses not to tithe, they are cutting off a blessing for themselves as well.
It’s best to be blessed
The dope dealer and the bingo parlor want you to lay up your dividend there. They want you to lay up your children’s dividends there also. Friend, don’t do it. Instead, lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal (Matthew 6:20).
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.