In ancient Israel, God instructed His people to set aside a special tithe to assist those in need, such as orphans, widows, strangers, and Levites (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-15).

Today, the church meets its Christian duty toward its needy brethren through the third-tithe program. This tithe is additional and entirely separate from the first tithe (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-24), which supports God's work of preaching the gospel. Like the first tithe, the third tithe is a full ten percent of a person's increase. Yet, while the first tithe is paid year by year, the third tithe is paid only on the increase earned during the third and sixth years of a seven-year period.

A person should begin counting the third-tithe years soon after he gains the knowledge of it. Since most members of the church learn about this tithe just prior to baptism, they count their third-tithe years from either the Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles closest to the date of their baptism. Some decide to count it from the actual date of their baptism. Whichever way one chooses, it should be adhered to.

In some cases, the individual may give his third tithe to a near relative. A widowed mother, sister, or daughter, for example, would qualify under the guidelines set out in Deuteronomy 14 and 26. Orphans in a similar category would also qualify.

Another option is to send the third tithe to the church office for distribution, since the ministry often knows who the truly needy are among the congregations. When sending third tithe to the church, please indicate clearly that it is third tithe so it will be used appropriately.

The third tithe is God's way of taking care of those who are in need. Many have learned by experience that God blesses those who faithfully follow His instructions (Deuteronomy 26:12-15).