The only instance where tithing (giving a tenth) is found in the New Testament is when Jesus makes a statement to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:23-24: (It’s also in Luke 11:42)
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
It is important to note that Jesus is totally in favor of tithing when, even of the garden herbs, He states, “these you should have done”. Of course, Jesus is really teaching about the “weightier provisions” that are more about issues of character rather than just the details of the law.
Jesus emphasized the condition of the heart over and over much more than a rule to obey. Tithing was a benchmark set long before the law when Abraham gave a tenth of everything to Melchizidek as an act of grateful worship. In later years, the law of the tithe was implemented to make sure that a priority was placed on getting God’s work done through the temple service. This standard was set by God to make sure we knew what was reasonable and right.
In tandem with the tithing emphasis is the admonition to give the first part, often called the first fruits in Israel’s agricultural environment. As an example, Proverbs 3:9-10:
In cultures all around the world, honor is woven into the fabric of their daily life. This is not the case in the United States. We’ve lost the concept of honor somehow. So, when scripture talks about honoring, we can easily overlook this and miss a critical piece of what it means to be in relation to God. We are to honor Him — to revere, yield to His position and person, and give respectful expressions to. And how do we do that? By giving Him the FIRST PART of everything we accrue.
And when we honor God, His heart is open toward us. Just look at the second half of the above scripture passage! Wow! I would love to have God’s favor directed toward me like that! Yes–it is ours as we honor Him with our first portions.
As I look at the New Testament, it’s not so much about obeying a particular number, but rather living with generosity in your heart. What is generous? Is 10%? For some people, absolutely. For others it would seem to be a very good starting point. Whatever the case, make sure you honor God, both by the amount you give and in what priority you give it.