Matthew 23:23 and Luke 18:12
I've been watching a Bible study with Kenneth and Gloria Copeland the last couple of weeks. They are focusing on tithing right now.
The tithe has been somewhat of a mystery to me during my lifetime. I can't tell exactly where the tithe being ten per cent of one's income is written in the King James version. I've seen it in another translation. On the one hand we have the widow's mite being heralded as more than anyone else's offering. She paid all she had/they paid some of their abundance. I get that 100 per cent of nothing is more generous than ten per cent of a lot -- in terms of the expense to the giver. But a widow's mite isn't likely to go far toward feeding the priest or building the temple.
I also get the concept that it is the generosity of the heart Jesus was praising, as well he should.
I bought a Biblical Concordance by James Strong last week for help with finding specific references, but it has not been particularly helpful on these questions. (Thanks to the Half Price Store's used book discount, it didn't even cost the amount of a whole tithe).
I also get that God loses patience with people who give their entire tithe to their churches while letting their parents or children go without. I believe he wants us to help our families and that he counts that as part of our tithe.
Some of what bothers me, though, is the teaching that abundance will escape us if we fail to tithe, but return if we give ten per cent. Think about that a bit. How would I feel about myself if I gave God my $82.30 per month so God would give me more? The widow didn't seem to give her mites so she could get more. She gave God all she had and just walked away.
Another thing that always bothered me was claiming charitable contributions, including tithes to churches, on our income tax returns. Do people, then, give God ten percent of their tax savings? And wouldn't He appreciate it more if we just generously handed it over without expecting something back? Probably.
Then there is the problem of paying all the bills after one forks over all they have (or sometimes even ten per cent). Perhaps the widow didn't have to pay rent, utilities, car gas, car or buy food, to say nothing of various insurance premiums. Try living on nothing today. Perhaps we could live like Jesus, traveling town to town and living on the largesse of good Christian people. But, then, Jesus had a gift of his own to share with others. People were happy to house him for a few days while listening to his sermons or watching him perform his miracles. Where does that leave the rest of us? Not all that many people even partake of sermons or programs or devotions that are offered for free. Much less are they willing to pay others a meal for them.
Perhaps the tithe is just one of those mysteries that God will explain to us in the hereinafter. In the meantime, the churches and pastors can reap the benefit of the abundance they bring.
But we do need to remember that God gets impatient if we tithe our garden products but overlook things pertaining to His laws like judgment, mercy and faith. He wants our complete commitment, not just our dollars.