“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom. 8:2-3)
When it comes to giving, most Christians spend their lives under the curse of the law—the Mosaic law of the tithe. In the OT, tithing is first mentioned in the book of Leviticus as part of the commandments Moses brought down off of Mount Sinai, and is last mentioned in the book of Malachi. In other words, throughout. Rarely is it mentioned in the NT, and in every instance it refers back to OT times when people lived under the law. Tithing is never mentioned as a contemporary practice in the NT. In one instance Jesus upbraids the Pharisees for promoting it, while “neglecting the weightier provisions of the law” (Matt. 23): matters of the heart which He came to die to imbed in us through the Holy Spirit.
Most of our temple leaders, dependent upon giving for their facilities and their lifestyles, promote the idea of the Mosaic tithe, while their flocks believe it to be evidence of faith they continue to find that 10% of their income to give to God. This can be very difficult to those suffering times of financial hardship, and only adds additional burdens to their already considerable ones.
The law is further reinforced as we see those who give more being coveted by our temple leaders—applauded as especially “giving” or gifted in that area. It makes all the sense in the world the system functions this way, because modern temple worship in its entirety comes from Old Covenant law, and not “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” When you set up a system that perpetuates the times when it was supposed God hung out in buildings and the law ruled, you must continue to support that system under the law.
But God no longer dwells in buildings, and we are no longer under the law concerning giving or any other matter. God now hangs out in the only temples He cares about (1 Cor. 3:16), having condemned the Mosaic concept of temples as His residence on earth (Mark 13:1-2). Inasmuch as it is the temple of the heart God is concerned with, it only makes sense that under the New Covenant giving, like everything else, is a matter of the heart and not percentages. The verse in 2 Corinthians 9 above says “each one must do what he has purposed in his own heart.” It is not optional, for what we will do is a reflection of our hearts. Jesus treasured the two mites of the widow (Luke 12) more than all the riches of the wealthy, because He treasures the heart of the giver over the size of the gift. When the one slave decided his talent was about returning the money more than gaining the Master’s profit, He was condemned to the “outer darkness” (Matt. 25).
So when we give, we need to do it as we do everything else because “The Lord weighs our motives (Prov. 16), brings to light the things hidden in darkness and discloses the motives of men’s hearts (1 Cor. 4), and examines the heart (1 Thess. 2).” Why we do what we do means everything to Him, and to others. What we do means nothing if the why isn’t authentic. If you’ve been held captive to the law by temple leaders, get free! Give only as you feel led, not because of the “compulsion” of those still living under the temple system that was the cornerstone of the law. God doesn’t need your money, and doesn’t count on your money—certainly not for the purposes of building and maintaining the temple system.
The Bible is clear we should be giving, not only of our treasure but of our time and talents as well, but as a matter of the heart and not of the law. We give gladly because the Spirit is leading our hearts to do so, not because of “the tithe” that makes us feel compelled. And time and talent are gifts we all have, regardless of financial ability. Do we have giving hearts in all areas of life? That is the question, because that is the heart of Jesus.