"You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always... At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." (Deuteronomy 14:22-23, 28-29)I find this teaching on tithing very intriguing. For two years, the people were to gather up their tithe and journey to Jerusalem where they were to eat it in the presence of the Lord. If their journey was too far, they could sell their tithe and then purchase what ever they desired once they made it to Jerusalem, as long as they eat it in the presence of God. In the third year, they were to deposit their tithe in the midst of their town or city so that all who had need could eat and be satisfied.
I wondered why God required the tithe and why He required them to eat it in His presence. It seems to me that it is akin to parents who have older children and who purchased a gift for them on their birthday, yet requiring their child to return home so to receive the gift. The request that the child return home is not in an effort to exert control over the child but rather to ensure that the parents might share in their child's joy and excitement over the gift they purchased for them.
I think this is the same for God and for His tithe. God delights to bless His children, yet He instituted the law of the tithe to require them to, at least once a year, journey back to His presence that He might share in their joy over His provision in their lives. The law of tithing is more about enjoying God's blessings in God's presence that it is about paying a bill or giving out of duty. God is more interested in us than our possessions and He wants to ensure that we remember Him in the midst of His many blessing in our lives. The tithe is to teach us to remember the giver as we enjoy the gift. In the third year, the tithe was wholly given to those who lacked and had need. In this, God invites us to experience His joy in blessing us as we bless others. In this way, we get to experience the same joy our Heavenly Father experiences when He sees us rejoice over His provisions for our lives.
Tithing is not about giving but it is about blessing, receiving, and relationship. Understanding this may cause us the rethink tithing in a whole new light.