There are obvious answers to the question of why you should tithe already coming to your mind–the ones you’ve heard your pastor mention in church. “It supports your local church,” “The Bible tells us to” or “It teaches us to trust in God.” But what if these reasons haven’t convinced you?

Tithing is first mentioned in Genesis 14:19-20 when Abraham gave Melchizedek, a high priest, a tenth of his possessions as a tithe for God helping him in battle. It is later instituted as a Jewish law in Lev. 27:30-34. By the time of Christ, it was a matter of pride for the Pharisees, whom Christ called out for giving tithe solely to gain status (Matt. 23:23, Luke 18:9-14). Finally, the writer of Hebrews brings the story full circle by referring back to Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek and praising him for his faithfulness to the Lord (Heb. 7:1-2).

The Bible–especially the Old Testament–strongly encourages tithing. Mal. 3:10 says “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse … and test me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (NASB).

What if being encouraged to do something by the Bible is not enough for most people, though? This is the case, as most people do not tithe. For many of us, the exhortations by our pastor and the instructions in the Bible are not convincing enough. Only about 5% of Americans tithe and only about 12% of Christians tithe.* If being begged by your pastor or reading about it in the Bible doesn’t persuade you, though, there are practical reasons to tithe too.

It teaches you to pay attention to your finances

The most practical reason you should begin (or continue) tithing is it is good for your finances. It may seem counterintuitive to say regularly giving away 10% of your earnings makes you more financially stable, but it does tend to have this effect. It builds potentially beneficial relationships, improves financial judgment, and causes you to assess your financial situation.

Giving away a fixed percentage of money on a regular basis causes you to regularly determine how much you earn and assess how much you are able to spend. If you are only paying attention to whether or not you have money in your bank account, you will never create a budget, reduce wasteful spending and choose financial goals. The financial benefits of giving away money are discussed more in the post How Giving Builds Wealth.

It teaches your family to give

Giving is fundamentally Christian. It is usually an act of selflessness, which is against many of our natural tendencies. Teaching your children to help others – financially or otherwise – is likely one of your goals as a Christian parent. “Actions speak louder than words” has become a cliché because it is true. The most effective way to teach your family to do something is to do it yourself.

It keeps you invested in your church

Your church is where your tithe is typically given. By giving money to something, whether it be a church, a nonprofit or a local startup, you feel more invested in it. You will care more about what is going on at your church, care whether or not your church is succeeding in its goals and you will be more likely to want to have a say in church decisions.

It causes you to assess your priorities

Tithing requires you to make a decision about your priorities. You have to decide where your tithe will be given, which requires you ask an important question. You must ask yourself where you believe God wants you to give your tithe.

For most people, their local church is the obvious recipient of their tithe. There are many reasons you should be supporting your local church with your tithe, especially if you are using its facilities and enjoying the benefits of its programs. But some people choose to give their tithe elsewhere. You have to find what you believe you are called to support, but you will not find it if you do not first decide to tithe.

You should not tithe simply to help you pay closer attention to your finances, teach your family to give, keep you invested in your church or help you assess your priorities. You should tithe because it is the Christian thing to do: it is a selfless act that helps others. But if you begin (or continue) tithing, you will see that it benefits your life in addition to benefiting other’s lives.