"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglected the others." (Matthew 23:23, NASB)
What connection did Jesus see between tithing and justice, mercy and faithfulness? F. F. Bruce provides the following suggestion (The Expositor's Greek Testament, I, 282, slightly altered):
“The idea seems to be: [the Pharisees] made a great show of zeal in doing what was easy, and shirked the serious and more arduous requirements of duty.—[the justice, τὴν κρίσιν], righteous judgment, implying the love of righteousness, a passion for justice—[the mercy, τὸ ἔλεος], sadly neglected by Pharisees, much insisted on by Jesus.—[the faithfulness, τὴν πίστιν], in the sense of fidelity, trueheartedness. . . .”
This commentator apparently sees a peripheral connection between tithing and justice, mercy, and faithfulness. However, the historical basis for tithing would reject this in favor of a direct connection between these issues.
The Old Testament mentions three different tithes: one for the Levites as their inheritance instead of land, one for the poor as a social program of financial aid, and one for the people to finance a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for one of the three required annual feasts. These three tithes equate to Jesus' terms justice, mercy, and faithfulness respectively.
This historical understanding of the background of Matthew 23:23 is reflected by the Greek definite articles, the, used in the Greek text of Matthew 23:23 but not included in the English translation. The articles ask the reader to think in particular terms rather than general ones. Thus, justice is specifically tied to the first tithe, it is unjust to rob Levi of his inheritance; mercy, to the second tithe, the people of God are to be merciful to the poor in their midst; and faithfulness, to the third tithe, attendance at the annual feasts was required under the covenant and an issue of covenant faithfulness.
The conclusion of this study is that the connection between the tithes and the definite concepts mentioned by Jesus are hidden to the English Bible reader because the translations do not include the definite articles which could have been done, though awkwardly, in English—the justice (focus of tithe 1), the mercy (focus of tithe 2), the faithfulness (focus of tithe 3).
The conclusion of this investigation is that there is a very real connection between financial stewardship and justice, mercy, and faithfulness. The rest of the New Testament confirms this connection. In a significant way financial stewardship is really not about the money but about spirituality.
You can study this topic further by consulting: Wretlind, Dennis O. Shekels, Dollars & Sense, available at Amazon.com.