Last Sunday in church I was talking about giving - partly through necessity and partly because we need to address big questions in church, after all Jesus did. I figured it was fairly straight forward, there is plenty in the Old Testament about giving a tithe (a tenth) to God's work and to support the poor. But having read more it's apparent that the New Testament doesn't talk in terms of tithes. The one place where Jesus seems to commend someone giving a tithe is when the Pharisee (who isn't a Christian) is praised for being so diligent that he tithes the herbs he grows. But then he points out what the Pharisee has forgotten - justice, mercy, faith (Matthew 23.23-24) - all way more important than getting your mixed herbs right.
So giving isn't off the agenda for Christians, just that tithing isn't taught for us. In the longest passage about giving in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 8 & 9), Paul tells the church to be generous because they are grateful for the grace they have recieved. And it makes a metric tonne of sense for Christians who are grateful for God's generosity to be grateful in turn to the church and to others.
For some the tithe is too much of a stretch, for others it isn't enough of a challenge. What we mustn't do is use the freedom I believe we have to hide from our responsibilities. I saw a statistic that said the average American Evangelical gives away 3% of what they earn. I dare say the Brits aren't too far off this figure, though it's a complete guess on my part. Which would suggest that some are less grateful than the Pharisees.
But don't let me or anyone else twist your arm. As Paul makes clear:
2 Cor 9 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Whatever we do, we should do so cheerfully before God.