Is Tithing Required for Christians?
With different opinions from different denominations, what does the Bible say?
The Book of Mormon, in Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 64, verse 23 says, "he that is tithed shall not be burned", and later on in chapter 119, "those who have been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever". There are a number of other religions today that also require tithing, in other words, giving 10% of your income.
Like many things in the Mosaic Law, God allowed preexisting customs to be incorporated and regulated by it. One of these things was tithing, which Abraham decided to do with the priest Melchizedek, and his grandson Jacob later also vowed to do. Later on, Israel's law said to give "every tenth part of the land, whether from the produce of the field, or the fruit of the trees" as well as "every tenth part of the herd and flock". But what about Christians? What does the Bible say? Galatians 5:24 says "Moreover, those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed to the stake the flesh together with its passions and desires." So, when we got baptized, we already gave all of ourselves figuratively, and that's a good thing, because Jesus yoke is light. He gives life in the future, and freedom right now. We're no longer bound by the old law.
Still, from day to day we make choices about what and how to give. Is it better, though, to give a preset amount? Well it's not a bad thing. For many people, it helps them to stay organized. For some, their conscience may even motivate them to do it that way, and that's okay. However, there's nothing intrinsically noble or redeeming about tithing on its own.
Notice what one woman did in Mark chapter 12, starting in verse 41, "And he sat down with the treasury chests in view and began observing how the crowd was dropping money into the treasury chests, and many rich people were dropping in many coins. Now a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins of very little value."
Was this woman giving 10%? No, at this point in her life, she was giving 100%, because Jesus went on to say that she gave everything she had.
Contrast that with the Pharisees in Luke chapter 11 verse 42. There Jesus said to them, "But woe to you Pharisees, because you give the tenth of the mint and of the rue and of every other garden herb, but you disregard the justice and the love of God! These things you were under obligation to do, but not to disregard those other things." So with them, it was all about facts and figures. They thought that by following a prescribed, technical course of action, they could earn God's favor, despite their immoral actions and inhumane treatment of others.
But what kind of giving does God really love? Notice the previous verse, verse 41. There Jesus mentions "gifts of mercy". Now mercy is a feeling, not a requirement, not a percentage. That's the kind of giving that makes everybody happy: the giver, the receiver and God.
So how can we give? The Bible describes a situation in the early congregation when relief funds were needed, and so a collection was taken up. Today we also have opportunities like that, but we don't always have to wait for others to organize such efforts. We can take the initiative to help our brothers and sisters in need not only financially, but also physically and emotionally. And like Jesus said we don't blow a trumpet ahead of ourselves or advertise what we're doing.
Do we lose out in any way by giving? God answers that question in Malachi chapter 3 verse 10.
"Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house; and test me out, please, in this regard,” Jehovah of armies says, “to see whether I will not open to you the floodgates of the heavens and pour out on you a blessing until there is nothing lacking."