The Old Testament institutes tithing as an obligatory act of worship by God’s people. Israelite tithes supported the landless tribe of Levi and the priesthood of God (Numbers 18:25-32, Nehemiah 10:38). They also served the giver’s family and the nation’s disadvantaged (Deuteronomy 14:22-29). This command of God was often abused or ignored (Malachi 3:8-10). As in the case with all visible acts of worship, self-righteousness cropped up among the Israelites who actually did tithe (Luke 18:12).
Through the fulfilling work of the Messiah, New Testament believers are no longer obligated to perform the particulars of the Law. Tithing is never mentioned by any of the New Testament writers as a compulsory behavior of the church, but generous giving is emphatically expected.
Without prescribing an amount or even a specific percentage, how then should we give? Biblically, we know that our giving should be proportional. As God blesses us, we should first set aside a proportional part to serve God’s purposes (2 Corinthians 8:3). We are to avoid offering God our lackadaisical leftovers. For many believers, a tenth (or tithe) of their gross income proves to be a viable benchmark. Of course, some cannot consistently afford to tithe in this way, but in the case of a financially blessed believer, a tenth could be considered far too little.
Finally, we must exhibit a proper attitude in giving. Acknowledging that God is the true owner of everything (Psalm 24:1), Christians are to spurn stinginess, even as they display a compassionate heart. A cheerful, sacrificial, and worshipful spirit of giving should permeate the Christian church (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). Financial generosity is not a legalistic obligation but an expression of our worship and love.