A MEMBER OF OUR CHURCH HAD NOT PAID TITHE FOR SOME TIME, BUT AS ELECTION OF OFFICERS WAS NEARING, THE MEMBER BEGAN TITHING AGAIN. SHOULD THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE ACCEPT THIS DISHONEST ATTITUDE AND CONSIDER SUCH PEOPLE FOR LEADERSHIP POSITIONS?
First of all, I would like to emphasize that faithfulness in tithes and offerings should be a characteristic of all church workers and officers: “Conference/Mission/Field workers and church elders, other officers, and institutional leaders are to recognize that as a principle of leadership in God’s work, a good example is to be set in the matter of returning tithe. No one shall be continued as either a church officer or conference/mission/field worker who does not conform to this standard of leadership.”1
Here are some considerations that will help you act in a balanced way in this situation:
1.Only God can identify who is being totally faithful. Faithfulness involves more than regular tithing. Even some who return their tithe regularly may not be totally faithful, and yet we consider them qualified for leadership in the church.
2. Faithfulness involves not only the act of giving money to the church but also the motivation for the act. We have no way to evaluate motive. Maybe some who are considered “faithful” givers are not faithful in God’s eyes because their motivation is selfish or for show.
3. Regarding a church member who restarts the practice of returning tithes and offerings, we do not have the right to judge his or her intentions, although we may be tempted to do so. Perhaps the approach of church elections causes one to reflect upon the fact that unfaithfulness limits service to God and to the church, leading to a sincere resolve to better serve the Lord. On the other hand, the person may be motivated simply by a selfish interest in becoming a church leader. But because we do not have access to the heart, I believe the healthiest attitude is to assume the member is being honest in again returning God’s tithes. Time will reveal whether or not the change was sincere.
4. The above suggestion should be balanced by common sense. If this pattern is imitated by other members or leaders every time church elections are near, the matter should be addressed and opportunities for leadership be limited.
1 Church Manual, 154.
Elder Ranieri Sales is professor of applied theology at the Brazil Adventist University.
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