Saturday, September 4, 2010
Tithes and Offerings
The ancient prophet Malachi wrote, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings" (Malachi 3:8). The payment of tithes and offerings shows gratitude to Heavenly Father for all the blessings He gives to us. It is a way of telling our Father, "You have given me all that I have. Here is a portion back to do Thy work." Heavenly Father has given commandments to His children to help us prepare to live in the presence of God. When we willingly pay tithes and offerings, we thank Him for His blessings to us; we also show Him that we love Him and that we are willing to obey His counsel. An honest tithe is one-tenth of our increase. Tithing is an ancient commandment as well as a modern commandment. Ancient prophets like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob paid one-tenth of their increase (see Hebrews 7:1-10; Genesis 14:19-20; 28:20-22). The commandment was renewed in our time through the Prophet Joseph Smith when he prayed, "O Lord, show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a tithing" (Doctrine and Covenants 119, section introduction). The Lord answered: "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" (Doctrine and Covenants 119:3-4). The First Presidency explained that "one-tenth of all their interest annually" means our annual income (see First Presidency letter, March 19, 1970). Paying our tithing shows our faithfulness to the Lord as well as teaches the value of the law to our children. Children learn from the examples of their parents and will want to follow their example to pay tithing. It is important that we pay tithing willingly and with a good attitude about doing so. Stephen L. Richards taught, "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" (The Law of Tithing, p 8). The Apostle Paul also taught that what we give and how we give are both of equal importance. He said, "Let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give tithing and other offerings to the Lord. The Lord's representatives use the tithing funds for many purposes: 1) Tithing is used to build, maintain, and operate temples, meetinghouses, and other buildings. 2) Tithing provides funds for stakes, wards, and other units of the Church to operate. These units use tithing funds to carry forward the ecclesiastical programs of the Church, which include teaching the gospel and conducting social activities. 3) Tithing is used to help the missionary program of the Church. 4) Tithing is used to educate young people in Church schools, seminaries, and institutes. 5) Tithing is used to print and distribute lesson materials. 6) Tithing is used to further family history and temple work. Offerings include fast offerings, other donations and service. Fast offerings are used by bishops to provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for the needy. The funds come from Church members fasting each month by going without food and drink for two consecutive meals or for twenty-four hours. The individuals and families contribute at least the amount of money they would have otherwise spent on their meals, but they may contribute many times the amount of the meals. In addition to fasting, members attend a meeting called the fast and testimony meeting where members voluntarily share their testimonies of Christ and His gospel with each other. Other donations include donations to help with missionary work, the Perpetual Education Fund, temple construction, and humanitarian aid. In addition to money, members also offer their time, skills, and material goods to help other people. Through service of the members, the Church is able to help needy members and nonmembers on community, national, and international levels any where in the world. This is especially true when disasters occur. In return for payment of tithes and offerings, the Lord promises blessings. He said, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith … 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). Another blessing is listed in Doctrine and Covenants 64:23, "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." The promised blessings include both temporal and spiritual blessings. When we willingly give what Heavenly Father requires, He helps us provide for our daily needs of food, clothes and shelter. President Gordon B. Hinckley told Latter-day Saints in the Philippines that if people "will accept the gospel and live it, pay their tithes and offerings, even though those be meager, the Lord will keep His ancient promise in the in their behalf, and they will have rice in their bowls and clothing on their backs and shelter over their heads. I do not see any other solution. They need a power greater than any earthly power to lift them and help them" ("Inspirational Thoughts," Ensign, Aug. 1997, 7). President Heber J. Grant taught that the Lord will help us grow "in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant , 124). Great blessings come to those who pay their tithes and offerings as well as a good feeling of helping to build the kingdom of God on earth.