Do you have to pay interest on your tithes if you pay late, and does the Bible tell us to do so?
Thank you for your inquiry.
The short answer is, "no," we don't have to pay interest on tithes for the simple reason that tithing as defined in the Old Testament was an integral part of the Mosaic Law and, as the Apostle unequivocally stated, those in Christ are no longer "under the law." There is no corresponding New Testament commandment for Christians to tithe.
The Mosaic Law was specifically given to Israel and not to any other nation. Gentiles could not become followers of Yahweh by simply acknowledging him or even by observing the Law. A Gentile wishing to join himself to Israel had to be circumcised (assuming he was a male), become a Jewish proselyte and essentially formally become a member of Israel. One of the purposes of the law was to erect a "wall," so to speak, in order to keep Israel untainted from the surrounding non-Israelite nations (Israelis, for example, could not eat with Gentiles).
The Law contains a wide variety of commandments and regulations including moral imperatives (e.g., do not steal), a comprehensive sacrificial system, food regulations (clean and unclean meats), instructions regarding a woman's menstrual period, the establishment of cities of refuge, rules of inheritance, etc. The Tribe of Levi was the one tribe not given a portion of the land of Palestine as their function was to serve in the Temple and some were to serve in the priesthood. Tithes were paid by the other Tribes in order to support the Levites, the sacrificial and Temple systems.
In Galatians Paul argues that the Law's purpose was not to make anyone righteous before God, something it was unable to do, but instead was to serve as a custodian of Israel UNTIL the coming of Christ. With the coming of Christ that function is no longer needed and therefore Christ has superseded the Law. The Law had a temporary function. With the coming of Christ believers are no longer under the Law and the Gospel is now open to both Jew and Gentile, male and female, bond and free. In Galatia Paul was battling with some Jews who did believe in Christ but also were teaching that in addition to faith one had to keep certain portions of the Law such as circumcision and Jewish dietary restrictions (and probably also observance of Sabbath and other Old Testament holy days). This created divisions in the churches of Galatia since they were mixed bodies made up of both Jews and Gentiles. When certain Jews ceased to have table fellowship with Gentile believers they were in essence saying that Gentiles were not acceptable to God unless they first became Jewish proselytes, that they could not be members of God's covenant people AS GENTILES regardless of their faith or even their righteous living (note well the account of Cornelius in Acts chapter ten. Even though he feared God and lived righteously, since he was still uncircumcised Peter could not eat with him prior to God's revelation to Peter that the gospel is now open to all).
One of Paul's key arguments in Galatians is that if one is obligated to keep one portion of the Law one is under obligation to keep the entire law. This argument is pivotal though most of us miss its real significance. Paul's opponents were not teaching that Gentiles had to keep the entire Law, only parts of it (and this is precisely what all Christian preachers that teach we must keep portions of the Law are doing). Paul's response is that, no, you must keep it all if you wish to be consistent.
It's all or nothing. In the light of what Paul wrote, those who teach that we must tithe or observe the Sabbath, must also teach that Christians are required to participate in the sacrificial system, that a brother must marry his dead brother's widow if she died childless, that we must execute homosexuals and rebellious teenagers, that husbands must not touch their wives when they are menstruating, that we must keep kosher, etc.
A note regarding the sacrificial system: many Christian theologians and preachers divide the Law up into the "moral" and "sacrificial" laws in order to get around some of the problems I just described. However, NOWHERE in the Bible is the Law divided up into such convenient arrangements and the Bible always views the Law as a whole. Such divisions did not come about until centuries after the time of Christ.
None of this is to say that Christians are to live without any restraints or that we now "lawless," for Paul also argues that believers are now under the "law of Christ," and that law is defined by things like love of God, love of neighbor and living in accordance with the Spirit. This "law of Christ" has much that is in continuity with the Mosaic Law (e.g., love of neighbor demands that we do not kill or steal). But there are also discontinuities (e.g., no more sacrificial system or dedicated priesthood). We are encouraged in the New Testament to give to help the less fortunate and to support God's ministry, and the love of Christ ought to motivate us to give (but the amount we give or how often we give, etc., is not spelled out and is left up to us).
I would add these personal caveats; that when I give I only give where we know it will I'm certain it will help the less fortunate or where I'm certain the proceeds are going to a ministry that is genuinely involved with promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I never given with any expectation of receiving back any kind of blessing in return.
I hope this helps. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask. Below are several links to our website where we have published articles regarding tithing.
God bless and best regards,
Dave Maas The Bible Answer Stand Ministry (www.bibleanswerstand.org) 1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.