I wrote a letter to a friend once that may better shed light on the subject:
According to scripture Jesus makes use of the words tithe, or tithing, only 3 times (Mat. 23:23, Luk. 11:42, and Luk. 18:12). It is of interesting note that on all three occasions Jesus actually cursed the tithe payer. In fact in all three instances He downgrades the importance of tithes and other matters of the law, and says that they are not nearly as important as matters of the heart such as: Justice, mercy, faith, and humbleness.
Many have quoted the words of Jesus as definitive proof that the New Covenant church is supposed to tithe, and on its outset it does seem to advocate it:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Mat 23:23, NKJV)
There is an obvious problem when declaring that this is definitive proof that the New Covenant church is supposed to tithe, the fact that He was not talking about the New Covenant Church but about the Scribes and Pharisees, people who were bound to the Mosaic Law and should in fact pay tithes.
The New Covenant did not yet exist, it only starts at Jesus’ death when the curtain was ripped and the inner temple was revealed. Jesus was “Born under the law to redeem those under the law” (Gal. 4:4-5). At this point Jesus was bound to the law, and of course advocated it; to not do so would have been a sin. It is what happens after Jesus fulfilled the law (Mat 5:17) that is relative to the New Covenant Church, as well as Jesus’ words specific to the New Covenant Church.
Many have argued that the instances of the words “You” in Matthew 23:23 actually refer to the New Covenant Church. This is a stretch to say the least, and doesn’t make a lot of sense when put into context. When read in context Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the dishonesty of the interpreters of the law and was not discussing matters of the New Covenant Church.
Let’s look at the instances of “You” in Matthew Chapter 23:
13 Woe: YOU shut up the kingdom of heaven against men
14 Woe: YOU devour widows' houses; make long prayers
15 Woe: YOU make a proselyte a child of hell
16 Woe: YOU blind guides; YOU fools
23 Woe: YOU pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin (gnats)
25 Woe: YOU make clean the outside of the cup
27 Woe: YOU are like unto whitened sepulchers
29 Woe: YOU serpents, generation of vipers
The “You” in Matthew Chapter 23 clearly is in reference to the Scribes and Pharisees, and is a string of curses for their dishonesty, and does not at all refer to matters of the New Covenant Church.
To further illustrate the point that Jesus advocated the law when he was alive and bound to it we must take note of Matthew 5:23-24, and 8:3-4:
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first bereconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Mat. 5:23-24, KJV)
“And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man;but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them” (Mat. 8:3-4, KJV)
In both of these instances Jesus advocated the Jewish Law of sacrifice, a law that obviously has no place in the new covenant church. Is tithing another such Jewish law that Jesus advocated in His lifetime because he was under it, but never had any intention of having it be passed on to the New Covenant church as He fulfilled it?
Remember the words of Paul , “We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6, NIV).
This leads to another question: Gentiles were never under the Jewish Law (as they were not Jewish), if Jesus ever intended aspects of the law to be passed on to the New Covenant Church wouldn’t He not have placed emphasis on these laws to the Gentiles that He met and that He was involved with? There is no evidence that Jesus ever did so. The law was meant for the Jewish people until the New Covenant came about, and not supposed to be adopted by Gentile or the modern day Christian.
What we do with our resources Is a common theme within Jesus ministries, it is often quoted that Jesus spent more time talking about money than He did Heaven and Hell combined, that He talked about money more than any other subject but the kingdom of God, that 11 out of His 39 parables talk about money, and that 1 out of every 7 versus in the Gospel of Luke talk about money; yet throughout all of this, Jesus only mentioned tithing 3 times (Mat. 23:23, Luk. 11:42, and Luk. 18:12), and all three times he cursed the one who tithed and illustrated how matters of the heart were of far more importance than the act of tithing itself.
Jesus spoke about money for sure, but not as something we should become involved with, but something we should give away freely. I come to the conclusion that Jesus had no intention of furthering the law of tithing; tithing was not the emphasis or intent of His ministry concerning money and resources. Instead He instilled the concept of giving on the New Covenant Church; giving from the heart, and not as an obligation to a law. We are free from the law, and no longer bound to it as we are under grace; to teach anything else would be to bind us to something Jesus freed us from in the first place. Jesus’ message was to give, and give freely. In this way we are to support the ministry.