Recently a new teen convert walked over to the foyer outside the bishop’s office. Seeing a number of people waiting for interviews, she said, “The missionaries asked me to start paying tithing now that I’m baptized. But you didn’t pass anything around for me to put it in. How do I pay it?”
For new members that come from churches where a collection plate is passed, it is baffling to figure out how to pay tithing. We like tithing to be a private event between you, God and your leaders, so we make it easy to pay your tithing privately.
As church members, we’re asked to pay a tithe, which is ten percent of your “increase.” It is between you and God how you interpret this. You should pay it on everything you earn, but members have different ideas of how much that is. For instance, some pay on their net and some pay on their gross. Some teens and children pay on their allowances and gifts. Others consider it to be only owed on earned income. You should take the matter to God in prayer and be certain you are not cheating Him. I had a bishop who always said, when people asked about the degree of obedience required, that the stronger your testimony, the more obedient you will want to become.
To pay your tithing, go to the bishop’s office, usually found in a small hallway off a foyer. By the door you’ll find a rack with tithing envelopes. Take one and fill out the paperwork found inside. Then put your check or cash into the envelope. Hand it to someone in the bishopric—the bishop or his two counselors. Don’t give it to anyone else. You can do this anytime you see them. Most people do this before Sacrament Meeting, when the leaders are often walking around shaking hands. The leader quietly puts it in his jacket pocket and it is counted and recorded later.
Tithing pays the costs of running the church. As you look around your chapel on Sunday, remember that everything in it costs money. The books and supplies used to teach the classes cost money, as do the activities. There are many expenses involved in running a church, even when we don’t pay our leaders salaries. All of this is paid for from your tithing. People are taught the gospel and eternities are changed, and you’re a part of it, not just an observer. You help make it happen.
However, there are blessings that come from paying tithing. God promises to open the windows of Heaven. What does that mean? President Hinckley said, “Now, do not get me wrong. I do not say that if you pay an honest tithing you will realize your dream of a fine house, a Rolls Royce, and a condominium in Hawaii. The Lord will open the windows of heaven according to our need, and not according to our greed. If we are paying tithing to get rich, we are doing it for the wrong reason. The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on the Lord’s work. The blessing to the giver is an ancillary return, and that blessing may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Sacred Law of Tithing,” Ensign, Dec 1989, 2)
Paying your tithing is one way to be a full participant in the bringing forth of the gospel and to show gratitude to God for all we have.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.