I will be speaking about one of my favorite commandments to teach. Tithing, that is one commandment that you can keep 100%. We can faithfully pay a full tithe. Hopefully we can say that about all the commandments, that we keep it completely, but with some of them we slip up here and there, maybe not being completely honest, or talking about someone. However we can keep tithing perfectly if we decide.
Tithing is the commandment to pay one tenth of all our interest annually, so one tenth of our income. It was revealed to Joseph Smith on July 8, 1838, after much prayer and supplication. The saints had been previously commanded to live the law of consecration which is a higher law. But they didn’t keep it and had many tribulations. So the law of consecration was withdrawn and they were given the law of tithing. In D&C 119 reads: “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people... Those who have been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever”
The law of tithing prepares us to live the law of consecration, which is to dedicate and give all our time, talents, and resources to the work of the Lord. I think another way we can prepare and practice the law of consecration as much as possible now is doing what we are asked and fulfilling our callings. That’s also a part of given of our time and talents. And with the law of tithing, we each have the privileged and opportunity to contribute our part to the work and kingdom of the Lord here on earth. That always makes me feel good, to know I’m giving a part to this great organization.
The amazing thing is that the primary purpose is for our own growth and development. Yes we are contributing to the church and all its programs, but even more that that we are strengthening ourselves and our commitment to the Lord.
Tithing is test of our faith and righteousness. Joseph F. Smith aid: “By this principle [tithing] the loyalty of the people of this church shall be put to the test. By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. By this principle it shall be seen whose hearts are set on doing the will of God and keeping his commandments, thereby sanctifying the land of Zion unto God, and who are opposed to this principle and have cut themselves off from the blessings of Zion. There is a great deal of importance connected with this principle, for by [our payment of tithes] it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful. In this respect it is as essential as faith in God, as repentance of sin, as baptism for the remission of sins, or the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. For if a man keep all the law save one point, and he offend in that, he is a transgressor of the law, and he is not entitled to the fullness of the blessings of Jesus Christ. But when a man keeps all the law that is revealed, according to his strength, and his ability, though what he gives may be little, it is just as acceptable in the sight of God as if he were able to do a thousand times more. The law of tithing is a test by which the people as individuals shall be proved. Any man who fails to observe this principle shall be known as a man who is indifferent to the welfare of Zion, who neglects his duty as a member of the church… He neglects to do that which would entitle him to receive the blessings and ordinances of the gospel.”
Especially in times when we have financial difficulties we see how tithing can really be a test of faith. Each of us has either had experiences on our own or knows of family or friends that have seen blessings come after faithfully paying their tithing.
I haven’t had any amazing stories to tell but I know I have been abundantly blessed as I pay my tithing. For some reason when I am paying my tithing things seem to just work out. But if I start to forget to pay, I start to be more worried about money, and the same amount of money doesn’t seem to stretch as far. I don’t know how it worked, but I do know it is blessings from paying our tithing.
In Malachi 3: 10 it reads: “ Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there maybe 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.” That is an amazing blessing. I don’t know about you but I would love to receive so many blessings that I don’t have room enough to receive them. The blessings may be temporal spiritual or both. They may come immediately or down the road somewhere. But we are promised those blessings and they come specifically for each of us by the Lords will and really, we can’t afford not to pay our tithing.
The easiest way for us to know we are full tithe payers and keep track of it is to set it aside right away. I think of it as a diner. If you invited a very special guest to your home to have diner with your family, you would want to feed the guest first and then feed your family. And there would be plenty to go around. But if you were to feed your family and make sure everyone ate all they wanted, and the try to scrape up the leftovers, you may not have a nice meal to feed him. It is the same thing with the Lord. We should set aside right away that ten percent which is really his and then everything else will work out. President Hinckley said that by paying our tithing we don’t expect to become rich and have everything we want, but we are assured that we will have what we need.
It is nice to know where our tithing is going. We know that it is sacred funds and used to build the church where needed. Shortly after the bishop receives the tithing it is sent to the church headquarters, and the first presidency, quorum of the 12 and the presiding bishopric prayerfully distribute it where needed. It goes to temples, church buildings, maintenance of our buildings, education, welfare, and all programs in the church.
There are also other funds we can contribute to. On the tithing slip there is a list of them, missionary work, education, book of Mormons, ect…. Those we can specifically and additionally contribute to if we wish, but there are 2 in bold that are commandments. One is tithing, which we already discussed, and the other is fast offerings.
A fast offering is the money we donate the first Sunday of each month as we fast. We are asked to give a generous fast offering, and to give the amount we would have spent on 2 meals. And that goes to helping those in need.
Even with fast offerings we can receive so many blessings, both temporal and spiritual. Years ago my father was the City manager in Silver City and when he took the job he was told that City Managers were on a fixed salary and they don’t receive raises. He accepted the job and shortly after that Marion G. Romney spoke about fast offerings and challenged the members to double their fast offerings. My parents looked at each other and knew they would do it. Even though it was a test of their faith they did it, and shortly after in some kind of a city council someone proposed that the city managers were given a raise every 6 months, and it was voted in. So the extra money they were giving to fast offerings was made up.
These are very important commandments that we should teach our children when they are young. Help your children to gain a testimony so when they serve their missions they will have a testimony of this principle as they teach it, and when they start their own family they will have the faith the pay even when times are tough. I am so grateful to my parents and that they taught us at a young age, so that I could experience it and the blessings that come from paying our tithes and offerings. I have a testimony in this and every commandments that we are given, and I know there are for our own good, and development, so that we can progress in our striving to become like Christ.