The question is: Should modern Christians continue to tithe? Or was tithing simply an Old Testament practice that God wanted the Israelites to do? There are several good reasons that we should continue to tithe today.
1. Tithing is the system that God originally put in place to fund ministry
Tithing, the practice of giving 10% of your earnings to God, was a commandment given by God to the Jews in the Old Testament. Basically, there were 12 tribes that made up Israel, and one of those tribes, the Tribe of Levi, was set apart to perform all of the priestly duties full time. The tithe was used to fund their work, and take care of their needs since they didn’t have a regular job giving them income.
Do we still have ministry today? Of course! Are their pastors, missionaries, church secretaries, counselors and others doing God’s work? Of course there are, and just like the priests of the Old Testament, they perform their ministerial duties as their full time job, and therefore should be financially supported by their fellow Christians. 1 Corinthians 9:14 says:
“In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”
We no longer go to the temple or tabernacle or perform sacrifices, but we do minister to others through the church and missions, and those that are called to minister full time should be allowed to earn a living doing so.
2. The early New Testament church was instructed to give regularly
Paul instructed the early church to give in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2:
“Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come.”
In this passage, Paul is asking the Christ followers to put something aside every week for the ministries. I think Paul understood the importance of giving regularly and consistently. Its a lot easier to set aside a portion of your income every week or two than it is to come up with a big amount of money once every six months or every year. That’s why most people with a mortgage payment, also make escrow payments. Its much easier to pay $300 a month towards taxes and insurance, rather than trying to come up with $3,600 at the end of each year.
3. Early Christians were instructed and encouraged to give generously
Tithing should really just be the bare minimum that Christians give. The New Testament is riddled with examples of generous giving that make tithing look like child’s play. In Acts 4:32-36, the believers were willing to sell everything they owned in order to meet the needs of their fellow believers, and to fund the ministries of the apostles. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is a beautiful passage that should encourage us all as we give. Verses 7-8 say:
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Basically, we are told that God will give us more than we need; enough to meet all of our needs, and an abundance so that we can use that abundance for “every good work”. Giving out of our abundance is a primary way to ensure that good deeds will continue to be done, and through those good deeds, God will be glorified.
For more information on this topic, I recommend a couple of sermons written by John Piper: “Toward the Tithe and Beyond” and “Enough for Us”. Those sermons were the source of much of the above info, so if you want some more in depth info, I recommend them.