1) Firstly, tithing is an Old Testament ordinance that was intended only for the Israelites. The command was originally given by God for the purpose of sustaining the needs of the Levites who minister in the temple, who, by the way, were not allowed to own property like the other tribes of Israel (Numbers 18:21-32). The question now is this: do Christians today tithe for the same purpose? Do they tithe to support church pastors who don't have their own properties like the Levites in the Old Testament? Obviously not! So who's command are they obeying? We can only guess.
2) We often hear preachers (*with all due respect to them) quote Malachi 3:8-10 to support their view on obligatory giving of tithes in the New Testament. But upon a close examination on the background and mechanics of the ordinance in question, one will discover that the admonition found in Mal. 3:8-10 was actually directed to the Levites who are supposed to "bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house" (Neh. 10:38), and not to the lay-people of Israel. In a nutshell, this is how tithing works in the OT:
a. First, the Israelites must give their tithes to the Levites in support to their needs as temple ministers (Numbers 18:21-32),b. Next, the Levites must get the tenths of those collections into the treasure storehouse for the temple's maintenance (Neh. 10:38, cf. Mal. 3:8-10).It was the second step which concerned God's rage in Malachi 3:8-10, the passage that so many use to prove Christians are to tithe. Clearly, it's not actually rebuking the people (the Israelites in particular), but rebuking the Levites for keeping the tithe that went to them.
3) As I said at the onset, it is completely hypocritical to say that the OT law on Sabbath-keeping does not bind Christians today and yet insist that we are still under moral obligation to observe at all cost the OT law on tithing. After Jesus was crucified the New Covenant began and the Old was finished (Heb. 8:7, 13). "Christ," Paul wrote, "is the end of the law" (Rom. 10:4; see also Eph. 2:14-15). If it's true that we are obliged to tithe, why aren't we obliged to keep the Sabbath day as well? The same goes with the dietary laws of the Old Testament.
4) In the first Council of the Church held in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31), the apostles addressed the question of whether Gentile believers should obey the Mosaic law in order for them to be admitted into the Christian fellowship. The Judaizers of their time insisted that it is "necessary to circumcise [the Gentiles] and to order them to keep the law of Moses" (v. 5), and thus be saved (v. 1). After much debate, the apostle James, who acted as the chairman of the meeting, resolved to "not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood" (v. 19-20). The question now is this: If the OT law on tithing is one of great moral importance that binds all Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike, how come it is not included in the Council's resolution?
5) Others maintain that regular tithing of church members is the most effective way a church can prosper and maintain its function in the community. This may be true in some cases, but we should not limit God's power. Nowhere in the Bible can we see any indication that God blesses His church according to how much money His children will drop in the collection plate.Conclusion:
6) And lastly, there is no specific amount or portion of income Christians are required to give under the New Covenant of Grace. Instead we are told to "give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor. 9:7). Notice there is no amount mentioned. If the amount is a fixed one, there will be no need to decide in one's heart anymore.
Now let me make some important clarifications. It's not the act of tithing itself that I abhor, but the compulsion or the idea that we are under moral obligation to pay our tithes to pastors, else we'd suffer the divine cursing. I believe love is to be our motivation for giving, not legalism or fear (Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Mark 12:28-34; 1 Cor. 13:1-7). God loves a cheerful giver, and if someone has convinced you or forced you to give by making you feel guilty or promised you a greater return, then you are no longer a cheerful giver. Thus, if you are compelled to give, or give out of necessity and you have sorrow and annoyance in your heart, for honesty's sake, don't give! "For whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23).
With that being said, I believe everybody is free to give whatever amount they are willing to give. It could be tenths of one's income, provided that they he/she is not compelled by fear and that he/she doesn't impose that personal conviction/devotion to others. Anyone can even give 20%, or 50%, or even more! (*after all, God owns everything we have, not only our tithes!). But the important thing, mind you, is not whether you tithe or not, nor it is the amount you give that counts. It is the heart that seeks to glorify God which matters most, and that's what makes a church blessed and fruitful.
"I may give away everything I have. . . But I gain nothing if I do not have love."
(1 Cor. 13:3, NCV)