Considering that this question was asked in relation to the Bible I will limit myself to biblical sustenance because it would be a waste of time to argue biblical concepts with non biblical support. The Bible supports itself and does not need a walking stick. It is important to recognize that gifts, vows, freewill offerings and tithes were all different and practical (Lev 23:38).
Abraham began tithes and not the law as many claim. That was almost like the creation ordinance (Gen 2:22). Abraham began tithes by giving to Melchisedec: king of Salem (Gen 14:17-20; Heb 7: 2-4). Jacob continued the practice even before the law was instituted (Gen 28:22; Gen 35:7). Before it became a law (Deut 14:22) it was a voluntary act as seen in Abraham’s and Jacob’s actions.
Abraham gave tithes once because during that time it was a facultative act and despite giving his tenth of his spoils he then wanted to offer the greatest of sacrifices: his son Isaac. Such was the track record of a giver whose act was no more necessary to be proven; for it spoke for itself. When it became law: it was required per every income because Israelites had become selfish even unto God their giver.
Tithes are the tenth of your income unto God not to the Levites but unto God. The tithes would then be used for the Levites and the entire house of God so that there is no lack. (Mal 3:10). In Leviticus, God required the people to give a tenth of deal of flour. That translated to us would mean what you could afford as income.
Tithes were not just an Old Testament concept for they were given in the days of Jesus. Adoptively, He does not condemn it; rather, he condemns the spirit behind it as in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Lk 18:10-14). Jesus neither denounced the exercise nor encouraged it. To Jesus, no amount of giving would outweigh a contrite spirit. With the advent of Jesus, tithes revert to the old position of Abraham and Jacob on voluntary basis but not annulled. That is why Jesus does not condemn them nor does he promote them. That means now the spirit behind the act of giving is what matters rather than the gift itself. As a result the widow’s mite is more important than the gifts of the rich.
In Numbers 18:21 God says he has given the Levites all the tenth in Israel for their services because the Levite did not have besides serving in the tabernacle. In modern organizations where the prelate has a salary or a job, then they are not required to partake of the tithes. Nonetheless, tithes are still required for the maintenance of the building and paying of the bills just like the tithes of those days were for caring for the temple and its necessities.
However, many churches and people are misusing Bible verses to motivate people to give. That is what I call Retiary Gospel. It is crookery when people use the Bible to deceive others into giving. Some even claim you must pay your tithes only to your church because that is where you are being fed. The Bible says bring the tithes to the storehouse of God (Mal 3:10). Your church is not the only storehouse of God. No Church holds the truth. The church (building or denomination) is just a lighthouse or a bulb holder for the Christian. As a matter of fact, churches today are more than dens of thieves rather than the house of God. I visited a church and I do not know how the pastor arrived at tithes and offerings from the passage she was preaching. Lord have mercy!
If you give and expect back, then you have already taken your reward. Since you cannot refuse money from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) then you should take the money and redonate it to a place where you will not be reimbursed or rewarded terrestrially. God loves a cheerful giver so don’t give with a grudging heart. God does not love sumptuous giving; gifts to win the acclamation of mortals; those are rewardless (MT 6:1-6). many people will not give to an individual because they will not be able to claim it back in taxes.
Jesus seems to favor cheerful giving over compulsory giving (Mt 10:41-42). Paul too adopts the same position (I Cor 9:17). People should give according to their means and necessity of those who need. It is wrong for anyone to take a loan to give to the church. It is wrong for people to make monetary pledges beyond their means. It is equally wrong for ministers to deceive the Christians into giving monster seeds rather than muster seeds. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7) because it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20: 35). What good is it to refuse a needy neighbor money to pay his or her bills only to give tithes in church? Give to him that asks you (Mt 5:42).
The whole idea of gifts was for those who did not have (Esther 9:2) and not an exchange of gifts like we do nowadays. Most Americans give to the church because they will collect part of it in their taxes. Those have already received their rewards. They will be rewarded by the little that they could not claim from the IRS which is not even their widow’s mite. If they so desire to give their widow’s mite then they should give with their right hand where their left hand will not see.
Until then, it is honorable to give for God’s sake than for the praise of mortals.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.