Any time the topic of giving and stewardship arises, there is likely to be some variation of the following statement: “I don’t believe tithing is a New Testament concept.”
And while the comment is often bandied about in an off-hand way, it does bring up an important question: Is tithing a command for Christ-followers?
It is true that tithing has its foundations in Old Testament Levitical Law, and even before the law was given to Moses, as in the story of Abraham bringing a tithe to Melchizedek. And it is true that Christ came to break the chains of legalism and offer salvation through grace. But does that necessarily negate the our obligation to tithe (and beyond)?
Jesus affirmed the tithe in Matthew 23, when he confronted the Pharisees in verse 23. He rebuked the Pharisees, saying
Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You gave a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You have have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (NIV).
Notice the last sentence. Jesus said they should have shown justice, mercy and faithfulness WITHOUT neglecting the tithe.
The argument about the relevance of the tithe to the modern Christ-followers really misses the point, though. Why do we squabble over percentages, when all throughout the New Testament, generous and sacrificial outpouring is modeled by Jesus and His followers?
Jesus poured out everything He had, gave up His throne in Heaven and emptied himself out for our salvation, even down to His last drop of blood.
In Acts 2:41-47, we are told of the early church and how they sold everything they had to make sure that none of their brothers and sisters were in need.