Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Law of Tithing

In our religion we believe in obeying the law of tithing. In the Old Testament we read,
"8 ¶ Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be 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.
11 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 field, saith the Lord of hosts.
12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 3:8-12

The very meaning of the word "tithe" is to give a tenth. From the time I was a little girl, I was taught to pay a tenth of all of my increase. I have often heard this little poem, "What is tithing? I will tell you every time. Ten cents from a dollar, and a penny from a dime." From the time I was small, I have always, to my knowledge, payed a full tithe. The reason I have been dilligent in doing this is that I was taught that if you pay your tithing, the Lord will bless you with what you need. Often teachers of mine would use an example to illustrate the importance of tithing. They would say, "If I gave you 10 pieces of candy, would you be willing to give me back one?" Of course, if a person gave us so much, we should be willing to give them back at least one. My teachers went on to explain that Heavenly Father gives us all that we have. He only asks back 10%. Pres. Marion G. Romney said, "Tithing is not a freewill offering; it is a debt, the payment of which brings great blessings." This money is used to help the needy, and to build the kingdom of God on the earth.

Some non-believers might ask, "If God is God, then why does He need your money?" In fact, God doesn't need our money. He needs our faith. It doesn't take money to pay tithing, it takes faith. We are given this principle to help us develop faith. I had a neighbor once who belonged to a different religion. She testified to me of the importance of tithing. She said that her sister always paid her tithing first so that there was never a question whether or not she had enough to pay it. This has been my practice throughout my life too.

Elder Romney goes on to say, "Through his prophets the Lord has told us that at the time of his second coming, there will be a great conflagration. Malachi thus refers to it in connection with his pronouncement about tithes and offerings.

“For, behold, the day cometh,” he said, “that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

“But unto you that fear my name shall the Son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Mal. 4:1–2).

In Latter-day revelation we read,
"23 Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.
24 For after today cometh the burning—this is speaking after the manner of the Lord—for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.
25 Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today." Doctrine and Covenants 64:23-25

Some jokingly refer to tithing as "fire insurance". But I like to remember the scripture quoted above that says that if we pay tithing, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings. In fact, there will be so many blessings that we will not have room to receive it. How could it be that we have so many blessings that we can't receive them all? In my experience, this comes to pass with blessings that we don't even notice. When we pay tithing, we are blessed in ways that sometimes we don't even see the blessing. For example, we don't see that one of our household appliances lasts far longer than it should have been able to. We don't see that our family didn't get a certain illness. We don't know that we were considered for demotion, but passed over. We didn't see the car that nearly hit us.

Paying tithing in our day is much like how the children of Israel put lambs'blood on their doors at the passover. The promise to us is that if we pay our tithing, the destroying angel will pass us by. Innumerable are the blessings of paying tithing.

When Pres. Lorenzo Snow became president of the Church, he found the church in serious financial distress. “Years of persecution, unjust legislation by critics and enemies, expensive [court costs] had caused such severe financial pressures that the Church was facing financial bankruptcy. Turning to the Lord in prayer, President Snow was told to make a trip to St. George, visiting the principal settlements on the return trip. [The trip was made in 1899; St. George is three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City.] Though the purpose of the visit was not clear in light of the plea for assistance in the financial crisis, Lorenzo and selected brethren left for the southern Utah settlement” (Heidi S. Swinton, “Lorenzo Snow,” in Leonard J. Arrington, ed., The Presidents of the Church [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], p. 174). The St. George area was then suffering under a terrible drought.

While in St. George, Pres. Snow recieved a marvelous revelation. He was told that the church and the members of it would be blessed to overcome this crisis if they would pay their tithing more faithfully. He told the saints, "“The time has now come for every Latter-day Saint, who calculates to be prepared for the future and to hold his feet strong upon a proper foundation, to do the will of the Lord and to pay his tithing in full. That is the word of the Lord to you, and it will be the word of the Lord to every settlement throughout the land of Zion. After I leave you [the people in St. George] and you get to thinking about this, you will see yourselves that the time has come when every man should stand up and pay his tithing in full. The Lord has blessed us and has had mercy upon us in the past; but there are times coming when the Lord requires us to stand up and do that which He has commanded and not leave it any longer. What I say to you in this stake of Zion I will say to every stake of Zion that has been organized. There is no man or woman that now hears what I am saying who will feel satisfied if he or she fails to pay a full tithing (18 May 1899, MS, 61:533.)” (Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Clyde J. Williams, comp. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984], p. 155).

Some might feel that they financially can not pay tithing. But the Lord gives us a challenge. He said, "Prove me now herewith". Test me....try it out. Many have taken this challenge and have learned again the important principle that God cannot lie. The saints in St. George received rain as a blessing of paying their tithing. In these days of drought, and economic trouble, we may wonder how paying tithing could help us with our troubles. But God has made the promise, that if we tithe, we will be blessed.

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