Please enjoy this excerpt from Kate Gardner's blog post, "Biblical Framework for Tithing," written for and published by Generosity NY. Read full post on Medium.com.
Tithing can be a contentious topic in modern-day Christian giving circles. A tithe, which just means “10%,” is often taught as the biblical paradigm or baseline for giving. However, there are many differing opinions, on both a theological and functional level, on the meaning of tithing for the church. Practically, some believe employing a tithe is a harmful way of letting believers “off the hook” from more giving. Others that it can be a helpful starting point for greater generosity.
However, the actual biblical framework for tithing is more complex than the mere “10%” many associate with it. In the Mosaic Law, there were actually three separate tithes the people of God were called to give.
The first tithe, The Priestly tithe (see Numbers 18:21–26), was given to the Levites as compensation for their upkeep of the temple. The second tithe, the Festival tithe (see Deuteronomy 14:22–27), was actually a portion of crop harvested, taken, and consumed primarily by the grower at the three decreed gatherings of all of Israel in Jerusalem. This tithe wasn’t “given away” per se but just used at very specific times to celebrate God’s presence among his people. The third tithe, the Charity tithe (see Deuteronomy 14:28–29), was collected in each city and consumed locally by those who were foreigners, orphans, or other vulnerable parties in need.