Tithing continued in the New Testament but the only mention of this is in Luke 11:42 when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for observing the principle of tithing but not doing it with the spirit of love, justice and generosity that God intended.
While he recognised the continuation of tithing Jesus appeared to see other principles as more important. First that our giving is between us and God and not to be broadcast in public (Matthew 6:1-4)
The Apostle Paul echoes this thought when writing to the Corinthian church about a gift they were preparing to send to the church in Jerusalem.
In 2 Corinthians 9:7-11 Paul says that individuals should give according to what they have decided in their hearts, and to do so cheerfully, not reluctantly. In so doing God will supply each of our needs and our generosity will also generate praise and thanksgiving to God in others.
Secondly Jesus gave great prominence to the humble example of giving by a different standard altogether. In Mark 12:41-44 he pointed out a model for all time in a poor widow who ‘put in everything’. Tithing’s great drawback as people interpret it today is the feeling that after we have met this ‘obligation’ we are free to do what we will with the rest of our income, not truly acknowledging that all we have is from the Lord and to be used for his glory and purposes.
A third and connected emphasis of Jesus follows in Mark 14:3-9 when a woman is ridiculed for waste in her worship and love for Jesus but is affirmed by him as having her values right. True giving according to God’s pattern is not shaped by any particular proportion. This is affirmed by Paul in his observation of the Macedonian Christians who, under trial and experiencing poverty, “gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.
Tithing might well be taken by us as individuals as a check that we are giving the minimum that devotion to the Lord encourages, but we would not be biblical Christians if this was a limit to what we give.
Why is being faithful in our giving so important to our Christian faith? Jesus told a parable in Luke 16:1-14 about a shrewd manager and he makes the following point: 10: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
11: So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
Not many of us would regard money as the ‘least’ area of our lives but Jesus’ point is that if we are not trustworthy with our money, or put our entire faith in God rather than our money, how can we be trustworthy with greater spiritual matters?
So the Bible teaches us to think of everything we have as from the Lord, and of everything we possess as available to him. We will want to support the work and ministry and care of the church, to share in mission whether in local witness or in backing mission partners across the world, and to loyally support Christian causes that the Lord has put on our hearts. We do this by prioritising giving in our personal financial planning, not reluctantly or legalistically as became the Old Testament error, but willingly in recognition of what God has done for us. It is up to each of us to determine before God where our sacrificial giving should be directed.