God’s command to give tithes (ten percent) started with the Israelites in Leviticus 27:30-34, Numbers 18:26-29, Deuteronomy 12:17.  Deuteronomy 14:22 seems to say that you are to tithe of all of the produce. This was all part of the law given to the Israelites.  The purpose of tithing was to give sustenance to the Levites who were responsible for taking care of the Tabernacle. They were not given a share in the land. Therefore, they had no way of growing food or raising animals to provide for their daily needs.  Yet, when Jesus called his disciples in the New Testament (Matthew 10:8-10) he did teach us to give freely, but not to tithe.

Jesus addressed the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders in Matthew 23:23. These men interpreted the Law as commanding tithing over helping the needy. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.  For you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law:  justice and mercy and faithfulness, but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”  He is making a contrast between the importance of giving of our possessions (money or things) and living our lives in ways that make other people’s lives better.  Giving for giving’s sake does little for our spiritual growth.  In the New Testament, neither God nor Jesus commanded anyone to tithe money.

However, Christian churches started to copy the Jewish priesthood. (This was man’s decision and is not scriptural.) Christians wanted their leaders to have an honored status and to wear special clothing. The churches also wanted their congregations to financially support their priests/ministers, to build beautiful church buildings, and to commit to financing church work. If you belong to such a church, you have made it your responsibility to support the church staff and their works.

It is always best to live according to the Bible and not to add to nor subtract from God’s word. Since the New Testament does not command tithing (giving 10 percent), but does encourage giving, it would be wise to follow the scriptures. Honor your commitments but also help the poor.  2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV), “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”