What Is Tithing? Do I Need to Tithe? If So, How?

Society today has unparalleled prosperity, yet ironically, financial worries are remarkably common. Why do so many people suffer from such debilitating financial stress? There is a cause for every effect.

God’s most important law on managing finances brings true prosperity—guaranteed. It is a time-tested and proven way to be confident, content and at peace, free of financial worry!

Before you spend a dime, there are two prior claims to your money: taxes and tithes. Jesus Christ accepted these claims: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s”(Matthew 22:21). God commands that we give Him the first tithe—or tenth—of our income (e.g. Leviticus 27:30, 32).

By what authority can God claim that tenth? Here is the answer from your Bible. God is Creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1). As such, He owns everything. God says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

“[W]hatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine,” God says—even the money: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts” (Job 41:11; Haggai 2:8).

But my labor produced my wealth, you might say. Didn’t I earn it? But where does wealth really come from? Ultimately, from the ground. You didn’t create that; God did. Even your capacity to devise ideas and the energy you expend in work, God created.

Consider it: God allows you to work His Earth, to use its resources, forces and energies, to consume what others have extracted in manufacturing, distributing, selling, buying and investing. Whatever your occupation, you are actually working in partnership with God! Yet God has reserved for His use only 10 percent of your income. What a generous partner!

Only after you have been honest in paying God’s 10 percent does He consider the other 90 percent legally yours. He actually calls it robbing Him when we fail to tithe (Malachi 3:8-9). To keep God as your partner and know He is looking after your interests, you must obey Him in tithing.

God causes those in financial partnership with Him to prosper. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now,” He challenges, “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” (verse 10).

OK, maybe God has the authority, but does He require tithing today? you may ask. Since God’s financial laws were in force from the beginning of creation, righteous individuals have tithed throughout biblical history—before the Old Covenant (e.g. Genesis 14:17-20; 28:22) and after (e.g. Matthew 23:23; 1 Corinthians 9).

But I just can’t afford to tithe, some say. In truth, you can’t afford not to! Those who faithfully tithe find that the 90 percent that is left goes further than the 100 percent did before! Over the years, thousands have remarked that there seems to be an unwritten law that just cannot be worked out on paper. Step out in faith and obey, and you will be blessed by a law that causes your money to always stretch far enough!

It does take faith to begin tithing, especially when finances are stretched. But it builds faith. The faithful tither is worshiping God in a tangible, practical way. His faith is tested, exercised and strengthened. He learns to look to God and rely on His promises. He learns that God’s way really works.

If you are in debt, take God into partnership first and watch as He begins to prosper you! Tithing correctly is crucial to ending your financial worries. Remember, the debt you owe God comes first.

Never give up tithing! Persevere in obeying God, even if you are not financially blessed right away. Do your part with zeal and faith, and expect God to keep His promise, though you may not know when or how.

Of course, you must not tithe because you want payback. God cannot bless a selfish attitude. Tithe because it is God’s command and you want to obey. But rest assured, God does bless those who put Him first in all they do, including their finances. It is a law!

How do you tithe? Scripture states God’s tithe is figured on your “increase” (e.g. Deuteronomy 14:22)—that is, your earnings or produce above and beyond the expenses involved in producing it. Taxes are not deductible. If you work for wages, you tithe on your gross income. If you are self-employed, you pay a tenth of your adjusted gross (your income minus loss or overhead). You may deduct the cost of hired help, but not your own labor or your family’s. It is wise to tithe after every paycheck; the maximum period over which you may figure your tithe is one year.

To whom do you tithe? After Christ’s death and resurrection, Christ became our everlasting High Priest and Head of the Church of God. Therefore, you must find out which church Christ is working through today. Paying 10 percent to whomever you choose is not enough: You must pay it to the organization Christ directly leads. For identifying Bible proofs of God’s Church, read chapter 6 of Mystery of the Ages.

Accept God’s challenge to prove His tithing law by paying Him what you owe Him! See if He won’t pour out a rich blessing. Jesus said, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17). He inspired James to write: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. … [W]hoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22, 25).

For a more thorough explanation, read The Financial Law You Can’t Afford to Ignore.