Paula White, Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida, and chairwoman of the Evangelical Advisory Board to President Donald J. Trump, has recently released a call to action on her website for her congregation to give a “first fruits” offering to kick off the New Yeah. The Christian Post included a statement from a spokesperson for White:
"Pastor Paula White's comments were originally reported out of their full context. She was actually speaking of her personal, longtime commitment to 'put God first at the beginning of a new year' and as part of that commitment she has often donated her entire January salary to charity in gratitude to God for his blessings. She encouraged others to also be generous but she does not - and did not - suggest that other people must donate a month's salary to her or her church or face divine punishment. Charity is at the heart of Christianity as it is at the heart of every religious tradition in the world, and anyone who has listened to White's teaching within its proper context should come to this conclusion as well."
The controversy stems from the debate over “prosperity gospel” preachers, who some perceive as threatening or forcing an offering to God, by promising a future blessing from God. Leonardo Blair of The Christian Post reported, “While some preachers today use the concept to encourage their parishioners to give an offering above and beyond tithing, the Bible does not support it as a requirement for Christians.” Compelling Truth experts say that “Nowhere does the New Testament mention that the church is required or even encouraged to give a ‘first fruits offering.’ Like tithing, giving to the church is left up to the personal convictions of the individual believer. There is no blanket policy for giving.”
White made many Biblical references to support her message, with multiple passages listed in an online video and accompanying article. She referenced Ezekiel 44, stating “when you present your First Fruits offering, it will cause a blessing to rest upon your house!” The article also stated that “when you don’t honor it, whether through ignorance or direct disobedience there are consequences.” Recalling Joshua Chapter 7, wrote, “So when you keep for yourself something that belongs to God you are desecrating what is to be consecrated to God.”
White described the difference between the 10 percent tithe that many are familiar with and the first fruits offering by saying it is a whole of the first. The Orlando Sentinel further quoted a recent sermon White preached to her Florida congregation explaining first fruits: "All of what? Well, if you want to bring God all of one day's salary, one week's salary or one month's salary, that's between you and God ... I try to bring a month's salary, but at the very least every year I give God a week's salary.” She informed viewers that she, herself, follows this principle yearly. “Each January, I put God first and honor Him with the first of our substance by sowing a first fruits offering of one month’s pay. That is a big sacrifice, but it is a seed for the harvest I am believing for in the coming year.”
Heather Clark of Christian News reported that the pastor is offering a book, devotional and/or wall calendar in exchange for a donation that reaches a certain minimum amount. “I want you to click on that [donate] button, and I want you to honor God with His first fruits offering,” she urged.
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http://sunnyand80.org. “Mom” is the most important calling on her life, next to encouraging others to seek Him first … authentically. A writer, dance mom, substitute teacher, youth worship leader/teacher and Bible Study leader, she can often be found having some kind of an adventure in the small little lake town where she resides with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle.
Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Publication date: January 10, 2018