Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tithes and Offerings

                Willing payment of tithes and offerings shows Heavenly Father our gratitude for all the blessings He gives to us.  Heavenly Father loves each of His children so very much that He desires that every child return to live in His presence for all eternity.  He has given us commandments to help us prepare to live in His presence, and He blesses us when we obey His commandments.  He has also prepared numerous ways for us to show our gratitude to Him for the many blessings He gives to us, and one of those ways is to willingly pay tithes and offerings.   When we pay tithes and offerings, we show Heavenly Father that we love Him and pledge our obedience to His counsel.

                Willing obedience to the law of tithing is very important.  President Stephen L. Richards wrote in a pamphlet entitled The Law of Tithing:  “When one pays his tithing without enjoyment he is robbed of a part of the blessing.  He must learn to give cheerfully, willingly and joyfully, and his gift will be blessed.”

                An honest tithe is one-tenth of our increase annually.  This means that we give one-tenth of all we earn – before taxes, before buying food, clothing, and shelter, before putting money in savings.  Father Abraham paid his tithing to the priest Melchizedek who was also the king of Salem (see Genesis 14:19-20).  Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, also paid tithes (see Genesis 28:20-22).  (See also Hebrews 7:1-10.)”

                The Prophet Joseph Smith wondered what the Lord required in tithing in our day, and God revealed His answer:  “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people…. [They] shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 119:3-4).  [When we read “one-tenth of all their interest annually,” we should understand that the Lord means our annual income.] 

                Children can understand what a tithe is by memorizing this couplet:  “I know what tithing is; I can tell you every time –
Ten cents from every dollar and a penny from every dime.”  Children can also learn that God sends blessings to those who pay their tithing."

                It is not just the LDS Church that teaches members to pay tithing.  Numerous other churches and individuals preach the value of paying tithing.  I was pleased and a little surprised one day while listening to Dave Ramsey, the money guru who helps people become debt free.  Mr. Ramsey strongly encourages anyone who desires to get out of debt to pay their tithing first.  

                Mr. Ramsey claims that “53% of Christians have not given to their church in the last month” and “church giving has not exceeded 3% as a portion of income in 40 years.”  He claims that church members “want to give, but they are so burdened by personal debt that tithing is difficult.”  He even has a solution to help church leaders lead their “people to financial maturity by cultivating a culture of giving in your church and your community.” 

                In addition to tithing, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give offerings to the Lord in money, goods, and time.  Members donate to Church efforts such as missionary work, the Perpetual Education Fund, temple construction, and humanitarian aid.  Members of the Church also donate their time, skills, and goods to help other people.  Because of this offering of service, the Church is able to help needy members and nonmembers at community, national, and international levels around the world and particularly when natural disasters happen.

                Each month members of the Church fast by going without food and drink for two consecutive meals.  They then contribute at least the amount of money those two meals would have cost to the Church.  There is no limit as to how generous members may be in their fast offering and many give as generously as they are able.  These funds are used by bishops to provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for the needy.

                Money collected as tithes and offerings is used by the Church for many purposes.  Among those purposes are:  (1) to help the missionary program, (2) to build and maintain chapels and other buildings, (3) to educate young people in Church schools, seminaries, and institutes, (4) to print and distribute lesson, (5) to help in genealogy and temple work, and (6) to help those in need who cannot help themselves.

                The Lord has promised that He would bless us if we faithfully pay our tithes and offerings:  “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” (Malachi 3:10).

                We have been promised both material and spiritual blessings.  Heavenly Father will help us to meet our daily needs for food, clothes, and shelter if we will willingly pay our tithes and offerings.  Spiritual blessings include knowledge of God, a testimony of the gospel, power to keep His commandments, and the ability to inspire our families to do the same.  Temporal blessing come in many different ways but include the ability to make good decisions and to manage our money better.

                In modern scripture the Lord gave a very compelling reason to faithfully pay tithing:  “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” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:23).

                President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about tithing and some of the blessings that come from paying it.  “Now, do not get me wrong.  I do not say that if you pay an honest tithing you will realize your dream of a fine house, a Rolls Royce, and a condominium in Hawaii.  The Lord will open the windows of heaven according to our need, and not according to our greed.  If we are paying tithing to get rich, we are doing it for the wrong reason.  The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on the Lord’s work.  The blessing to the given is an ancillary return, and that blessing may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit….

                “There are many ways in which the Lord can bless us beyond the riches of the world.  There is the great boon of health.  The Lord has promised that he will rebuke the devourer for our sakes.  Malachi speaks of the fruits of our ground.  May not that rebuke of the devourer apply to various of our personal efforts and concerns?

                ”There is promised in modern revelation a great blessing of wisdom, of knowledge, even hidden treasures of knowledge.  Malachi has told us that ours shall be a delightsome land if we will walk in obedience to this law.  I can interpret the word land as people, that those who walk in obedience shall be a delightsome people.  What a marvelous condition to be a delightsome people whom others would describe as blessed!

                “We hear some these days who say that because of economic pressures they cannot afford to pay their tithing.  I recall an experience I had as a stake president some years ago.  A man came to get his temple recommend signed.  I questioned him in the usual way and asked, among other things, whether he was paying an honest tithing.  He candidly replied that he was not, that he could not afford to because of his many debts.  I felt impressed to tell him that he would not pay his debts until he paid his tithing.

                “He went along for a year or two in his normal way, and then made a decision.  He talked about it sometime later, telling me:  `What you told me has proved to be true.  I felt I could not pay my tithing because of my debts.  I discovered that no matter how hard I tried, somehow I could not manage to reduce my debt.  Finally my wife and I sat down together and talked about it and concluded we would try the promise of the Lord.  We have done so.  And somehow in a way we can’t quite understand, the Lord has blessed us.  We have not missed that which we have given to him, and for the first time in many years we are reducing our debt.   We have come to the wisdom of budgeting our expenditures and of determining where our funds have been going.  Because we now have a higher objective, we are able to curtail some of our appetites and desires.  And above all of this, we feel we can now go to the house of the Lord with those deserving of this wonderful blessing.’

                “We can pay our tithing.  It is not so much a matter of money as it is a matter of faith.  I have yet to find a faithful tithe payer who cannot testify that in a very literal and wonderful way the windows of heaven have been opened and blessings have been poured out upon him or her."

                I personally know of the blessings of paying tithes and offerings for I have paid them and been blessed for my entire life.  Some of the blessings I enjoy or have enjoyed are the security of never worrying about where the money will come from to pay bills or the panic of not having food in the house and no money to buy it.  I particularly enjoy the feeling that my life is pleasing to God and the confidence that knowledge brings to me.

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