Two kinds of giving are taught in the Bible. First, required giving to the government, which is prescribed in both amount and frequency. Second, free-will or voluntary giving as unto God to meet the needs of His people and ministry of the temple/church, in which case the amount and frequency are left to the judgment of the giver according to what the LORD has given him/her.
The Tithe (a tenth-part) was not primarily a gift to God, but it was essentially a tax (reguired) used to fund the national budget. Because Israel was a theocracy, the Levitical priests acted as governmental and spiritual leaders. The basic precedent for this tax actually began in Egypt at 20% (Gen. 41;47). There were actually several tithes/taxes. The Levite’s Tithe (Lev.27, Num.18, 2Chron.31, Neh.10), Festival Tithe (Deut. 12), Poor Tithe (Deut. 14), and other required offerings and tithes (Lev. 19;23;25, Exod. 23) were to ensure leadership, a thriving society, and even acted as the welfare system. This meant the annual giving required of the Israelites was likely well over 25%. All giving apart from that required to run the government was done so voluntarily (Gen. 4;8;14;28, Ex. 25;36, Deut. 15;16, 1Chr. 29, Prov. 22). This explains God’s judgment when tithes and required offerings were withheld (Mal. 3).
New Testament believers are not required to give tithes, as our government is not a theocracy – doubling as both civil and religious entities. The only reference, in the New Testament, to required giving was the paying of taxes to the Roman government under whose rule the first church found themselves(Matt. 17;22;23, Rom. 13). Besides reference to the acceptable and voluntary continuation of the temple taxes/tithes (Matt. 23, Lu. 18), all instruction on giving to God’s people and to the church is that it would be done generously,cheerfully, and voluntary (Lu. 6;19, Acts 2;4;5;11, Rom. 12;15, 1 Cor.9;16, 2 Cor.8;9).
We aren’t expected or commanded to give 10% – not just because we are no longer under the law – but, because the tithe was never ours in the first place. Modern day required giving is comparable to our state and federal income tax. Therefore, voluntary contribution has always been God’s way of giving! However, the New Testament offers us a helpful distinction between required and free-will giving, as taxes clearly provide the Roman government’s infrastructure while a church is clearly funded by the free-will and voluntarygifts of God’s people as the Church had needs and as the LORD led them to give. God has always loved a cheerful giver! And He has always blessed a cheerful giver, whether for required or free-will offerings! He desires a generous and joyful heart! The abbreviated fact of Biblical giving is: pay your taxes with integrity and give to the leaders and ministry of the Church as God leads you to give!
As far as New Testament precedent for local church support and the compensation of ministers and pastors goes, we have several options. First is as a man ministers, teaches/preaches, or otherwise shares the Gospel, he is givenaccess to the goods of the home in which he ministers (Lu. 9:1-5). Jesus and His disciples received offerings as they ministered, as they had a money box that held the money (Lu. 22:35-38, Jn. 12:6;13:29). Paul, provides an example more relevant to the payment of the pastor(s) who perform the bulk of the teaching and preaching for a church. Those who lead and teach as Paul did, while seeking to relieve the church of any undue financial burden, have the right to besupported by the church to the degree the church is able (2 Thess.3:8-10). Paul strongly encourages the Corinthian church to consider how church leaders and teachers are due steady income that would support a normal life, including having a family (1 Cor.9:3-14). Paul charges Timothy to consider the hard work of preaching and teaching worthy of financial compensation (1Tim.5:17-18). The amount of this support is not outlined, but the church is to give in response to need according to how the Lord has provided (2 Cor.9).
That said, there is a pattern of giving a tithe (10%) for even voluntary contributions, making it a principle worth considering and a possible starting point for our giving today. However, we should guard against the tithe ever becoming a LAW or a LID on your giving.
Instead of ‘How MUCH am I to give?,’ a better question is: “HOW am I to give?”