God’s Law, given to the Israelites through Moses, directed them to tithe to the Levites, the tribe assigned to take care of the tabernacle, because they weren’t included in the land distribution when the Jews entered Canaan. The Levites were then instructed to tithe to Aaron the priest the tithes they received from the children of Israel.
The Lord, through the prophet Malachi, accused the Israelites of robbing Him. When they asked, “How?” they were told “in tithes and offerings.”
Yet, Paul tells us in Romans we are no longer under the Law. So, that means we don’t have to tithe, right? Hang on.
Before we dismiss the tithe as only for Old Testament times, remember that Paul also tells us in I Corinthians that Old Testament happenings were recorded as examples for our instruction.
Further, in Genesis, we see that tithe-giving started with Abram, 500 years before the Law. Why would Abram do that absent a directive? Did God tell an ancestor of Abram, or Abram himself, to tithe as a way to honor Him? I don’t know. Was he tithing to someone of a higher priestly order? I don’t know. Somehow, Abram knew.
In the New Testament, Matthew documents Jesus scolding the Pharisees for tithing minute amounts of spices but ignoring the weightier aspects of the Law; justice and mercy and faith. Jesus said the Pharisees should have done the tithing without leaving the weightier aspects of the Law undone.
Perhaps the reason for, and the method of, tithing, is best shown in one of Solomon’s proverbs: “Honor the Lord with your possessions, with the firstfruits of all your increase.”
Giving a tithe or a tenth to the Lord is a sign of genuine, wholehearted devotion. It’s a sign of faith and trust in God. It’s a sign of honor.
So, is the tithe obligatory for Christians? No. But withholding it demonstrates a lack of trust in God to provide, doesn’t honor God for giving us everything we have, and denies the believer the joy of seeing God work in answer to faith.
A study note in my Bible sums up the tithe’s history -- Abraham commenced it; Moses commanded it; Jesus commended it.