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What Is Tithing?

The word tithe means “a tenth part.” Tithing is a donation, or offering, of one-tenth of your income for the service of God.

Three things to know about tithing:

Tithing in the Bible is first mentioned in the book of Genesis. Today some Christian religions use the word to more generally refer to any offering, however great or small; nevertheless, the commandment to pay a full 10 percent tithe is still in effect. The Bible and other scriptures explain that tithing is about more than money. Tithing teaches important principles such as obedience, self-discipline, and sacrifice. It demonstrates love for God and others. And when you pay tithing, your faith grows as God delivers to you both temporal and spiritual blessings.

Tithing is about obedience

Keeping the law of tithing shows obedience to God. The earliest account of tithing in the Bible is Abraham offering tithes to Melchizedek, the king of Salem (see Genesis 14:20). 

Tithing is a commandment

Paying tithes has been a longstanding commandment of the Lord. Tithing was part of the Mosaic law for the children of Israel (see Numbers 18:21–28); it was also a commandment taught to the people of the ancient Americas as recorded in the Book of Mormon (see 3 Nephi 24:8–12). 

Tithing is an opportunity to be perfectly obedient

By paying one-tenth of your income to God, you demonstrate obedience. Your attitude about giving is equally important. While watching people bring offerings to the temple’s treasury, Jesus called His disciples’ attention to what was being given. Some who were rich gave generously—it was easy for them to contribute. But a poor widow who gave only two mites, a tiny amount, “cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:44). Her contribution was small, but her obedience, willingness, and sacrifice were great. The same obedient and willing heart is required of God’s followers today.

Tithing is about love

Tithing shows love for God

Paying tithing shows God you love Him more than material things. Willingly paying tithing is one way you put God first in your life and acknowledge that all you have comes from Him. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37), Jesus taught. Tithing helps you fulfill this commandment.

Tithing shows love for others

In the Bible we read that love for God is “the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:38–39). Paying tithing shows your love for God but it can also help increase your love for others. After all, the purpose of tithing is to support God’s work. In many Christian churches, tithes or offerings sustain efforts to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and build up the kingdom of God. In that way, your tithe benefits all of God’s children. Your love for humankind can grow as you ponder how your small contributions bless the lives of those around you.

Tithing is about faith

What do you get from paying tithing? At face value, it might not seem like you receive anything tangible. But God has promised that if you will give 10 percent of your income to Him, you will have enough to meet your needs—and many of your wants—with the remaining 90 percent. 

A promise of giving and receiving

The Lord’s invitation about tithing is clear: “Bring ye all the tithes . . . and prove me now herewith . . . if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). You have to admit—that’s a pretty powerful promise. The Lord wants you to test the principle of tithing in your life! He wants to prove that you will see blessings from Him. He asks you to trust that He will deliver on His promises—that He will provide for you and take care of you. Paying tithing helps you learn to live within your means—and doing so requires self-discipline that can bless you in many areas of your life. In a world of great economic uncertainty, faith in the blessing of tithing can bring about deep, lasting peace and contentment. 

As the Creator of all, God doesn’t necessarily need our tithing. However, tithing gives God’s children the opportunity to exercise obedience, love, and faith. Through the simple act of returning one-tenth of your income to God, you are promised blessings now and when you see God again.

How does it feel to give back to God? Talk to a tithe payer. Chat now.

Study scriptures about tithing. Request a free copy of the Bible or Book of Mormon