Prayer: Pray It!
Tithing: Pay It! [and I would add]
Thank you: Say It!
You and I have already learned this, but, in case it has been forgotten by anyone .. :)
In the Preach My Gospel handbook (Chapter 4), missionaries learn how to teach investigators about the commandments. Regarding the Law of Tithing, it states: “One of the great blessings of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the privilege of contributing to the growth of the kingdom of God through paying tithing.” .. so, just what is tithing?
The answer given: “Tithing means one-tenth, and the Lord has commanded us to give a tenth of our increase, which is understood to mean income, that we may be blessed. The law of tithing gives us the opportunity to help build His kingdom. Our tithes are holy to the Lord, and we honor Him by paying tithing. God promises to abundantly bless those who pay an honest tithe. Those who do not pay tithing rob God [and themselves] (see Malachi 3:8). They keep for themselves something that rightfully belongs to Him and forgo blessings that have been held in reserve for full tithing payers. We must seek first the kingdom of God, and tithing is an important way of showing where we are in doing that. Paying tithing is an expression of our faith, an outward sign of our belief in God and in His work.”
From the scriptures, His definition is: “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. And after that, 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.” (D&C 119:3–4). President Howard W. Hunter clarified: “The law is simply stated as ‘one-tenth of all their interest.’ Interest means profit, compensation, increase. It is the wage of one employed, the profit from the operation of a business, the increase of one who grows or produces, or the income to a person from any other source. The Lord said it is a standing law ‘forever’ as it has been in the past.” (Howard W Hunter CR Apr 1964)
RD: In my perusal of the internet, while preparing for this talk, I have found many who reason and argue just what makes up a full tithe, how it should be calculated, how that money should or should not be spent by the church, some who choose to pay directly to church headquarters or who think to take it upon themselves to hold back a portion or to give it instead to some other worthy charity of their own choosing .. imagine how those arguments might fly when dealing with similar amounts owed to the tax man .. imagine what your justification will sound like when making an eventual final accounting directly to our Heavenly Father? Tithing, unlike Tax Law, is a simple matter. We are given the commandment in a few short verses and left to decide between ourselves and our God how best to comply. At the end of each year, we have the opportunity to practice our answers with the Bishop of our ward. He will invite you to come into his office and will ask you whether you consider yourself to be a full tithe payer. This responsibility is his alone and cannot delegated. You get to report your status to him for the past year. This is in line with the principle of 'return and report'.
What is return and report? Return and report is our way of being responsible for the stewardships we have been given. It simply means that when someone is given an assignment they are expected to return to the person who gave the assignment, or to an authorized representative, in this case the Bishop, and to give a reporting of the discharge of their responsibilities. As taught by Elder Romney in his 1980 welfare training, "Remember, brethren, to return and report is the final act of the faithful and wise steward. (Marion G Romney CR Oct 1980)”. This applies to us in the Law of Tithing and the practice of annual Tithing Settlement, with the Bishop of your ward, the authorized representative of the Lord, who holds the keys for you and your family. We return and report to the Bishop for ourselves and our family at tithing settlement so He can report back the status of His ward members.
Elder Faust in his 1998 talk on this subject says: “One of the great blessings the people of this Church have is to meet with the bishop once each year, settle their tithing, and report that what they have paid in contributions constitutes a tithe. It is also a great blessing for the bishops to have this experience.” Firstly, because then the Bishop won't have to guess your status, but also [as Elder Faust recounts:] “I remember a man in our ward who had a large family who would bring all of his children with him when he came to tithing settlement. Starting with the youngest, he would ask each one to report to the bishop as to whether their contributions constituted a tithe. When all of the children had reported, he would report for his wife and his family. This family was abundantly blessed for their faithfulness.” (James E Faust CR Oct 1998)
Are you a full-tithe payer? Can you afford to pay a full tithe? Of course! Much like the Word of Wisdom, which was “Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints. (D&C 89:3), the Law of Tithes and Offerings was given in place of the Law of Consecration and is but a minimal yet essential requirement. Your children can afford to return their tenth just as you and I can. And by obeying it, we and our families demonstrate faith and become eligible to be blessed. The first fruit of paying tithing is increased faith and subsequent blessings are both temporal and spiritual, given in the here and in the hereafter, but assuredly they always come to those who obey this divine law.
Elder Romney, in his 1980 talk, continued: “[..] May I remind you that you cannot give yourself poor in this work; you can only give yourself rich [.. and then he says:] I have satisfied myself regarding the truthfulness of the statement made to me by Elder Melvin J. Ballard as he set me apart for my mission in 1920: “A person cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return.”
Elder Johnson of the Seventy in his Oct 2006 talk on 'The Law of Tithing' taught: “A lack of compliance with this eternal law is not to be taken lightly and can not only seriously impair our spiritual growth and development, but it can also limit the physical and temporal blessings that we could otherwise enjoy.” (Daniel L Johnson CR Oct 2006).
President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “The Lord herein makes clear that tithing is his law and is required of all his followers. It is our honor and privilege, our safety and promise, our great blessing to live this law of God. To fail to meet this obligation in full is to deny ourselves the promises and is to omit a weighty matter. It is a transgression, not an inconsequential oversight.” (Kimball NE Apr 1981).
So, to recap, why does the Lord require His people to pay tithing? The Lord is our Father, and as our Father, He loves us. Because He loves us, He wants to bless us both temporally and spiritually. Listen to some of His statements as written in the scriptures: “Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings.” (D&C 41:1). And another: “For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.” (D&C 76:5).
The Lord is Just. In order to bestow His blessings on His children in a just and equitable manner, the Lord has instituted laws that govern the blessings that He wants all of us to enjoy. He has revealed this principle of laws to His prophet of the Restoration: “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130:20–21). And again: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10).
The Lord knew and we were taught from the beginning that we, His children, would be faced with temporal and spiritual adversities during this mortal life. Indeed, these adversities are a vital part of this mortal probation. He knew that we would stand in need of His blessings throughout our lives and stands with open arms waiting to bestow them on us.
Think about it. The Lord does not really need our meager donations for his work to continue. He was able to create this world for us, the sun, the moon, the stars, even worlds without number quite well on his own without our tithes and offerings. It is not so much what He needs but what we need. What He needs is not our money, but the development of our faith. He and His church are not in the tithes and offerings collection business. He created this world and established His church here for the business of developing us. He knows that when we learn to give with faith, we are becoming more like him. In the first place, He has given us everything. Everything we have and use to prosper and live here. This world, our minds and bodies, rich natural resources, protection, warm sun and cleansing rain. The seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Our families and the Church. He gives all, as our example, and knows that we will grow by giving as well. And so he gives to us all we have and then turns and asks for us to just return a small portion. As we act and obey, we learn and grow and stand worthy to receive His promised blessings.
Thus we are given the law of tithing, instituted from the beginning. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my 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. “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 in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts. “And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (3 Nephi 24:10–12; compare also Malachi 3:10-12)
What a marvelous law! He who has not only the power and the means to bless His children temporally and spiritually but also the desire to do so, has provided to us the key to those blessings that we both need and desire. This key is the law of tithing. As stated by President James E. Faust: “Some may feel that they cannot afford to pay tithing, but the Lord has promised that He would prepare a way for us to keep all of His commandments. To pay tithing takes a leap of faith in the beginning. … We learn about tithing by paying it.” (Faust CR Oct 1998). Brothers and sisters, we have but to obey the law.
As my talk poem said: Prayer: Pray It. Tithing: Pay It!
To those of you who are already tithe payers, we commend you for your faithfulness. You are already witnesses and have your own personal testimonies as to the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises to those who obey this commandment, and each time you pay your tithing, your personal commitment to the Lord increases. If you have children teach them and those around you what you have learned. Take your family with you to your annual tithing settlement so they can hear you return and report to your Bishop on this matter so their own testimonies can grow.
To those who may not yet be full tithe payers, [as Elder Johnson says:] “I invite you to begin today to pay your full tithing to the Lord ...before you meet any other financial obligations. I invite you to put your trust in the Lord and He Himself said, 'Prove me now herewith"' (Malachi 3:10-12). Those who comply with the law of tithing "will indeed be witness to the matchless power of the Lord as He opens the windows of heaven and pours out a blessing 'that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Begin today to pay your full tithing, to the Lord, through your authorized priesthood leader, the Bishop who holds the keys of those blessings for you and for your family. [Elder Johnson continues:] “There are many reasons that are used to not pay tithing, such as medical emergencies, debts, car or home repairs, educational expenses, and insurance. These reasons and others like them are very real and are lived and dealt with every day by many, if not most, of us. These tax our limited financial resources and, if we are not wise stewards of these resources, may result in the inability to meet our tithing obligation to the Lord. I invite you to pay your tithing to the Lord first, before you meet any other financial obligations. I invite you to put your trust in the Lord and, as He said, “Prove me now herewith.” As you do so and as you place your tithing obligation to the Lord as the first priority of all of your other financial obligations, you will become a witness to the matchless power of the Lord as He opens the windows of heaven and pours you out a blessing “that there shall not be room enough to receive it. You will then have gained your own personal testimony of this very sacred law of tithing, and as you continue your obedience to this law, it will draw you ever closer to the Lord.” (Daniel L Johnson CR Oct 2006).
Prayer: Pray It. Tithing: Pay It! Thank You: Say It!
I would like to conclude by touching on the subject of Prayer and Gratitude. Isn't it interesting how real this world seems to us here and now? The sights, the sounds, the loud and insistent worldly messages, the opinion and wisdom of man, that we are being constantly presented with! I urge you to stop and reflect. Think, ponder, and pray! View the world as it really is. Read your scriptures and attend your church meetings, live the gospel. Sometimes we get so busy that we only remember to pray as a final S.O.S. when we find ourselves completely lost along the way, but prayer should be and can be so much more than that! I imagine it should be more like the concept of cruise control and auto steer for vehicles [in the near future]. Regular prayer works to constantly keep you on the right path and at an optimal, safe speed as you go along your way. Thankfulness and gratitude go together to complete a proper prayer. As missionaries we teach investigators how to pray something like this: We start our prayer with; “Dear Heavenly Father”, because He is the one with whom we are addressing and communicating. For our own benefit, to demonstrate our thankfulness and humility and respect, we try to use appropriate reverential terms of address in our prayers, for instance [in English, we use]: Thee and Thou. Think of and thank him for, the many blessings you have already received. This can take up most of your prayer time. We can use some of this time to 'return and report' on responsibilities and assignments we have accepted. Then, we ask for further blessings and guidance we desire. We close our prayers “in the name of Jesus Christ” because He is our Intermediary with the Father and we close our prayer with the word “Amen”, which, translated from a Hebrew word, literally means “truly” or “so be it”. The highest expression of praise to God is obedience, but we say “amen” at the end of our prayers to follow the examples given in the scriptures, thereby asking God to “please, let it be as we have prayed.” And finally, your prayers should be prayed with “a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ” and we are promised that “he will manifest the truth of it unto [us], by the power of the Holy Ghost”. When when we say “amen,” we can be confident that God will respond “so be it” and grant our requests in His own time and own way, which will be in a way that maximizes our learning and benefit.
I bear you my own personal witness of the blessing of law of tithing and of the reality of the promises that the Lord has given regarding this law. How grateful should we be for the opportunity to be blessed by obedience to it. Our prayers of thanksgiving should be ongoing and continual for the opportunity and blessing we have to participate in this great work and to be able to make offerings to His church. I know from personal experience that the blessings do indeed come thereby, and for that I am most grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
- Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service lds.org/manual/preach-my-gospel-a-guide-to-missionary-service/lesson-4-the-commandments PMG (2004)
- Daniel L. Johnson lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/the-law-of-tithing Oct 2006
- James E. Faust lds.org/general-conference/1998/10/opening-the-windows-of-heaven Oct 1998
- Spencer W. Kimball lds.org/new-era/1981/04/president-kimball-speaks-out-on-tithing Apr 1981
- Marion G. Romney lds.org/ensign/1980/11/welfare-services-the-saviors-program Oct 1980