Good morning Brothers and Sisters. I have been asked to speak to you today about the topic of tithing.
At work I have recently moved teams and found myself sitting near to a colleague who cottoned on pretty quickly that I was a church member when I turned down the offer of a tea or coffee on one of the regular drinks run’s during the day. “ Oh you’re one of thooossseee.” He said as he realised. However he has found the church to be a fascinating subject and will quite often ask me questions regarding the church in the odd spare moments between the general crazyness of life in customer service.
He was especially intrigued when I mentioned to him that I would be giving a talk today. When he asked the subject and I told him his response was of someone who wasn’t quite sure if I was pulling his leg or not
“ wait after tax, national insurance, student loan and pension you choose to do what with your money?!!” close quote
He pondered for a moment when I assured him that I wasn’t winding him up before coming back with his next question
“ So, is this what you guys started to do as it’s cheaper than keeping a second wife?”
No prizes for guessing the course of the next discussion.
For such an important principle how you pay tithing is actually very simple It’s a tenth of your increase, In fact this is actually in the definition of the word itself. A tenth. For those outside of our church it seems to be a common misunderstanding that the principle of Tithing is a something “new” . That is not in the case as even in Old Testament times, people tithed as it was part of the Law of
Moses and the prophet Malachi recorded the following words in Malachi 3.10
“ Bring ye all the tithes in the store house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts. If I will open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time”. Or in other words, when God’s people demonstrate their faithfulness by paying tithing, God responds by pouring out his spiritual blessings.
Tithing is often the most difficult day to day commandment to obey, requiring real spiritual and financial discipline to develop the habit and stay consistent. Many general authorities counsel that the best time for children to learn about Tithing is when they are young
Elder Dalin H Oaks related the following story about how he taught one of his children about Tithing in the may 1994 Ensign,
Parents are always looking for better ways to teach, and the results of their efforts are sometimes unexpected. Attempting to teach tithing to our young son, I explained the principle of a tenth and how it would apply to the eggs gathered in a chicken farm and the young calves or horses born in a breeding herd. When I finished what I was sure was a clear explanation, I wanted to test whether our seven-year-old had understood. I asked him to imagine that he was a farmer with a harvest of eggs and young animals. I supplied the figures and then asked our little boy what he would give to the bishop as tithing. He thought deeply for a moment and then said, “I would give him a very old horse.”
Of course these days we donate our tithing in the form of money as opposed, to animals or crops. A fact I’m sure the Ward clerk can appreciate.
Tithing has a special purpose as a preparatory law. In the early days of the Church, the saints were commanded to live the higher law of consecration- a law received by covenant. When this covenant was not kept great trials came upon the church. This law of consecration was then withdrawn and it’s in place on July 8, 1838 the law of tithing was revealed to the church. In D &C section 119: 3-4 it reads.
“And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.
“… Those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever
Paying a full and honest tithe is also one of the commandments that qualify us by our faith to enter the temple. It was just over three months after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith during the construction of the Nauvoo Temple, that Brigham Young wrote on behalf of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles “ Enter Steadily and regularly upon a strict observance of the law of tithing: Then come up to the house of the Lord and be taught in his ways and walk in his paths”
It’s easy to forget however that it’s not just ourselves who benefit from being able to enter the Temple, it’s our ancestors as well as we are able to receive the saving ordinances of the temple on their behalf. President John Taylor once said “ A Man who has not paid his tithing is unfit to be baptised for his dead... If a man has not faith enough to attend to these little things, he has not faith enough to save himself and his Friends”
From a temporal standpoint despite its simple and unchanging nature, giving a tenth of your increase can be very challenging. For many families it can be the biggest single outgoing of the month after mortgage payments. I have found it best summed up by Elder Robert D Hales when he stated “Tithing is a test of faith with eternal blessings”
No prophet in our dispensation has been more fervent in preaching the law of tithing then Heber J Grant. He frequently called upon the Church members to pay a full and honest tithe and made firm promises to those who did. In 1929 he said
““I appeal to the Latter-day Saints to be honest with the Lord and I promise them that peace, prosperity and financial success will attend those who are honest with our Heavenly Father. … When we set our hearts upon the things of this world and fail to be strictly honest with the Lord we do not grow in the light and power and strength of the gospel as we otherwise would do”
It is certainly no coincidence that he gave this statement in the very same month that the great depression started. During this stressful time many bishops noted that the members who paid their tithing were able to support their families better than those who did not. If saints during such a trying time can find the means to pay their tithing surely we can now as well. Indeed a common phrase I have heard among church members is not that “I can’t afford to pay tithing” but rather “ I can’t afford not to pay tithing”.
This statement always reminds of one fast Sunday when at the end of church I saw a member come charging back into the building with a great sense of urgency. I wondered if there was something wrong with the building? Was somebody ill? Had he lost one of the kids? I asked what was wrong
“I haven’t paid my tithing” he called back towards me as he disappeared off up the corridor.
As I have been preparing this talk I have found myself being able to explain more in depth to my friend about tithing, although some concepts he has found just a little odd. For example he asked just how big the plate was we passed around in our meetings as he had in his mind the stereotypical view of church donations. I explained that we pay tithing privately. He then asked the next question of what is tithing used for?
Well that is an easy question to answer as see one of the most obvious blessings of tithing every Sunday. In fact we’re sitting in it. Tithing is used for the construction and upkeep of Temples, Chapels, welfare efforts, educational and the missionary programs. Some people can find the seemingly plain nature of our chapels strange when compared to some churches, with their stained glass windows with the engraved names of the people who donated them, carved pulpits of rare abd expensive woods and the most sought after pews named after which ever family has donated the most to the church fund. I don’t, I tend to find the buildings beautiful in their simplicity and it reminds me of a quote by Elder Robert D hales where he states that “ By Contrast, in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, all who pay a full tithe are equally acknowledge and bless by the Lord, without special public honours and rewards. His law of revenue is truly an equitable one”
One of my favourite stories regarding tithing was related by President Joseph F.Smith regarding his widowed mother in the April 1900 conference.
“My mother was a widow, with a large family to provide for. One spring when we opened our potato pits she had her boys get a load of the best potatoes, and she took them to the tithing office; potatoes were scarce that season. I was a little boy at the time, and drove the team. When we drove up to the steps of the tithing office, ready to unload the potatoes, one of the clerks came out and said to my mother, ‘Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.’ … He chided my mother for paying her tithing, called her anything but wise or prudent; and said there were others who were strong and able to work that were supported from the tithing office. My mother turned upon him and said: ‘William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me. I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper and to be able to provide for my family’
When I had finished my second conversation with my friend I felt that I had managed to convey about the true importance of Tithing. His next statement demonstrated to me that I had done nothing of the sort
“So you’re only reason to pay tithing is to make sure you get new stuff and these blessings then?”
Brothers and sisters should we be only paying our tithing only so we can receive blessings? Yes it is great that Heavenly Father will pour blessings upon us if we are true and pay our tithing but should this be our sole motivation?
We should pay our tithing with love and gratitude as we are counselled. We should pay with Love for Heavenly Father, love for the church gratitude for all the blessings already bestowed upon us and those which are continuing to be bestowed, and we should also pay as a declaration that possessions and the accumulation of world wealth are not the uppermost goals of our existence.
Sure we may desire an Aston Martin but are we truly grateful for the vehicle that gets us to church every week?
My challenge to you for this week brothers and sisters is to have a quiet moment where you can contemplate and find 100 reasons why you are grateful to Heavenly Father and for the law of Tithing. It might sound like a lot of reasons but once you get going you’ll certainly find yourself soaring past the hundred mark with ease.
For example before you eat a meal do you just bless the food by rote or do you truly give thanks for all the systems in place which brought the food to your table? I’m thinking of the farmers, the financial systems to provide the capital, the distribution network, providers and maintainers of vehicles, roads etc etc.
If you look at many other areas of your life you will begin to see many other “hidden” blessings which have been provided for you. Just think about electricity and water supplies for example.
Can you not see Heavenly Fathers hand in all this?
So when you give your tithing please don’t regard it as a necessary chore but rather give it with a joyous and grateful heart for all the blessings Heavenly Father has bestowed on us already and will continue to provide to us.
Just think on this. To pay tithing is a blessing in itself.
And if all else fails just remember it’s only money and at the end of day money can be summed up by that age-old question that is often asked at funerals “ How much of his money did he leave?” “why all of it”
I’ll admit that I have not always found paying my Tithing to be easy. But despite this I do have a testimony of the blessings that come from paying tithing and that what you get back is far more then the ten percent that you give.
And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.
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