The first mention of tithing in the Bible is in Genesis when Abraham met a king named Melchizedek and gave him a tenth of all the spoils of war (Genesis 14: 17-20). We see many other mentions about tithing in the Old Testament (Lev. 27:30; Deut. 14:22-23,28; 2 Chron.31:5-6). In the books of the law, it was given as a law that every man was to give a tenth of all his increase (profit). In Malachi 3:9-10, God complained that people were robbing Him by failing to pay the tithe (suggesting that it was something owed to Him).
Abraham paid tithe as an honor to the king. In the law of Moses, it was an obligation, and in Malachi, it was an expectation. The law of Moses introduced the tithe as a means to sustain the priesthood. The rest of Israel was to give a tithe which would be the priests’ portion (Numbers 18:21-26). The priests were from the Levite tribe and did not get a share of the inheritance in the Promised Land.
But there is no explicit mention of tithing in the New Testament. So, does that mean that it was an Old Testament thing that’s no longer necessary?
Paul wrote that the law of Moses was just a shadow of things to come. It was a rigid list of do’s and don’ts that provided a systematic way of worshiping God. But when Christ came, He said that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in truth and in spirit. An intentional worship that emanates from the heart out of reverence for God and one that influences every thought, deed, and word – not a mechanical religion that involves a checklist and results in self-righteousness and legalism.
Tithing may not be explicitly mentioned in the New Testament, but there are many instances of giving/offerings which makes it clear that it’s part and parcel of the Christian faith – from the widow who gave her all (Mark 12:41-44) and who Jesus highly commended, to the believers who sold all their property to share with those amongst them who had nothing (Acts 2:44-45), an indication that it wasn’t just about an obligatory percentage, but an indication of spiritual transformation. Giving of our substances is also an essential part of ministry as local churches depend on our giving to operate. Worship is not just raising our hands and singing nice songs, but it entails everything about us, including our bodies and our material possessions.
It doesn’t have to be a clear-cut 10% of your income, we don’t even have to call it tithe, but offering should be part of our worship. Jesus tells us to give cheerfully and not under obligation, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). There are many who choose to support a course such as giving to orphanages, nursing homes, overseas foundations and all that, and that’s great. But we should remember that as long as we are members of a local church, the ministry requires our monies to operate, and that’s why in Malachi the tithe was to be taken to the storehouse of God (temple).