LDS church members give ten percent of their income to tithing. Maybe that sounds like a huge sacrifice to you, and it really is a big sacrifice, so let’s talk about it a little bit.
First, let’s talk about where tithing comes from. Tithing is nothing new. It goes way, way back to Old Testament times. Back in the day, tithing wasn’t always paid just in money. In the Old Testament, we learn that the people paid “the firstlings of the flock.” In other words, they didn’t just pay their ten percent, they gave the very best ten percent of what they had to the Lord.
8. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, 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.
Blessings of Tithing
Notice that the scripture above says that the Lord will open the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing upon your life. That scripture is absolutely true, and you will be blessed for it. The scripture doesn’t say how you will be blessed though. Maybe your prayers will be answered, maybe you’ll be blessed financially, or maybe you’ll be blessed in another area of your life.
The Lord asks us to obey, and promises us blessings in return. Which blessings He gives are His to decide. As you can see in the above scripture, the Lord sees the non-payment of tithing as being robbed. Think of it this way, the Lord has given us 100% of what we have, and he asks us to willingly choose to give back 10% to Him.
You might feel like you can’t afford to pay your tithing. If it sounds like too much, first read the parable of the widow’s mite that the Lord told in 12:41-44. Secondly, remember to have faith that the Lord will help you to keep the commandments. Here’s a great quote from Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of the church to the poor in Guatemala:
There is much of poverty in this land. I do not know how it can be cured without the aid of a higher power, and it is my testimony that the answer to the problems of Guatemala and the poverty of her people lies in the revealed word of the Lord: Tithing. If there is anyone here today who is not paying his or her tithing, I challenge you to deal with the Lord and earn His blessings. You may feel you cannot afford it. He has made the promise, and His is the power to keep that promise, and it is my testimony that He does keep that promise.
What happens if I don’t pay my tithing?
Nothing. Nobody will know if you do or don’t pay… except for the Lord, that is. In the LDS church, how much tithing you pay is strictly a personal matter. The Lord requires us to pay ten percent, but there is no collection plate that goes around the congregation for you to throw money into and look like a big shot or a cheap skate. It’s all done in private.
How does it work?
You have to do it all on your own. Somewhere in the chapel, usually next to the bishop’s office, is a small shelf with some gray envelopes and some slips. Here’s what the tithing envelope and tithing slip look like:
You take the slip, fill it out, and place the slip plus your tithe into the envelope. Next, hand that envelope to either the bishop or one of the Bishop’s two counselors.
Ten Percent of What?
The question that comes up is this: We’re asked to pay ten percent, but ten percent of what? Our income before taxes? After taxes? What about gifts? What about the money that I found under Grandpa’s mattress after he passed?
Well, here’s the answer: It’s up to you to decide. The LDS church doesn’t come out and say whether you need to pay your tithing on pre-tax or after tax income, or really answer any other question because the truth is that it’s between you and the Lord. You decide what you pay. The scriptures say that we are tithed on ten percent of our increase, and it’s up to you to decide what that means.