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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 4, 2012

Tithing and the Right Attitude

                    Paying tithing is a privilege and a blessing.  It allows us to show our gratitude to and love for the Lord.  God does not need our tithing as much as we need to pay tithing; however, He is greatly pleased when we pay our tithing with faith and with a willing and happy heart.  The spirit with which we give is, in fact, as important as the act of giving.  Paying tithing is more than giving money; it is a demonstration of faith, gratitude, and humble obedience.  This essay will answer three questions about tithing:  1) What is tithing?  2) What blessings will we receive when we pay tithing?  3) What should be our attitude about paying tithing?

Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Seventy shared the following story:  "I remember vividly an experience I had near the end of my mission….
                    "At that time I was working in the mission home with the president of the Mexico and Central America Mission.  He called my companion and me into his office one day and told us that he was sending us to Oaxaca.  He handed us a list of the names of all the people who had joined the Church during the brief time missionaries had served there; they had been withdrawn some months previously.   Our assignment was to look up everyone on the list, see how they were getting along, and, if possible, arrange for a sacrament meeting so that the members could meet together and partake of the sacrament.  Then we were to bring back a report.

                    "We made the overnight trip on the little narrow railway, arriving very early the next morning.  As soon as we got off the train, we began tracking down addresses.
                    "The first place we went to was a street lined with long adobe walls with doorways in them. When we found the address we were looking for and walked through the doorway, we found a whole group of homes inside.  Tucked back in one corner was the home of the woman we were seeking.  She lived there with her eight-year-old son and infant daughter.

                    "As she came out of her small house, she recognized us by the way we were dressed, and rushed to give us a warm Mexican greeting.  Then, without saying another word, she turned around and went back into her home.
                    "Moments later she returned, carrying a small clay jar.  She reached into the jar and pulled out some pesos and centavos (Mexican money). . She told us that her family had saved ten percent of what they had earned.  Most of that tithing had come from her son, who worked at the plaza in the center of the city, shining shoes.  When he returned each day, he immediately put his tithing into the little jar so that the money could be turned in to the missionaries whenever they returned.

                    "I can remember my feelings as that woman handed me the money.  She was standing there in threadbare clothes and no shoes, and her children were in the same circumstances.  I knew that there were things she would have loved to buy her children.  I knew that there were many things that they desperately needed money for.
                    "At first I wanted to give the money back to her and to encourage her to spend it where it was most needed.  But then I realized that that was not my right.  She and her son had saved that money carefully, knowing that it belonged to the Lord and wanting Him to have it.  I realized, too, that they would be blessed for it.

                    "I learned a great lesson that day about the importance of paying tithing and the blessings it can bring.  I also learned a lesson about faith.  That little boy and his mother had not known if missionaries would ever return to their home, but they were committed to the gospel principles, and they had faith that, if they were obedient, the Lord would bless them" (quoted by Kellene Ricks, in "Friend to Friend," Friend, Jan. 1991, 6).

                    Many people wonder what it means to pay a full tithing.  The Lord has commanded through His prophets that we pay ten percent of our income or increase to the Lord.  President Spencer W. Kimball stated:  "Inquiries are received at the office of the First Presidency from time to time from officers and members of the Church asking for information as to what is considered a proper tithe.
                    "We have uniformly replied that the simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay `one-tenth of all their interest annually' which is understood to mean income (see D&C 119:4)" (in Ensign, Nov. 1980, 77).

                    The 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.
                    "Ye are cursed with a curse:  for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.  (Malachi 3:8-9)

                    Many people do not understand that we rob God when we do not pay tithing on our income.  Sometimes people selfishly think, "I earned this money.  It is mine."  When we have this attitude, we forget that everything we have has come from God, every breathe we take as well as the ability to make money. 

                    Other people wonder what the tithing funds are used for.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:  "The Lord his directed by revelation that the expenditure of his tithes will be directed by his servants, the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric (see D&C 120).  Those funds are spent to build and maintain temples and houses of worship, to conduct our worldwide missionary work, to translate and publish scriptures, to provide resources to redeem the dead, to fund religious education, and to support other Church purposes selected by the designated servants of the Lord" (in Ensign, May 1994, 35).

We receive blessings when we pay tithing.  The Prophet Malachi continued:  "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).

                    When the Lord said, "Prove me now herewith," He meant that we should pay tithing and see that God really does keep His promises.  The word prove in this verse means test.

                    The Lord promises spiritual and material blessings for the payment of a full tithe.  He opens "the windows of heaven" in different ways to different tithe payers.  The blessings from the Lord may include the ability to earn enough money to provide for needs, the ability to use money wisely, protection from costly catastrophes, and the joy of sharing and giving. 

                    I have a firm testimony of the principle of tithing that continues to grow stronger.  Recently my daughter-in-law commented that several of her friends told her that last summer was a bad summer for raspberries; she asked me what I did to have such good harvests.  She knew that I harvested twelve gallons of raspberries from my patch last summer.  I told her that I didn't know what I had done except fertilize them and water them well; I added that keeping the moose out of the patch also helps.  Later I was talking with my son about some subject and mentioned that I paid tithing on my raspberries.  Suddenly I made the connection between the two conversations:  my raspberries do well because I do all I can to help them grow - plus I show my gratitude to Heavenly Father by paying tithing on my raspberries.

                    Obedience to the law of tithing, like obedience to other commandments, also helps us feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives.  President David O. McKay, ninth President of the Church, stated:  "Tithing makes its greatest appeal to the sincere mind because of its spiritual significance.  It is an unfailing source of spiritual power.  True and constant obedience to this law will give as much spiritual development as will obedience to any other principle of the gospel" (Gospel Ideals [1953], 199).

                    The Lord not only wants us to return one-tenth of all that He gives to us, but He wants us to do so with good attitudes.  The Apostle Paul wrote:  "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
                    "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

                    An ancient American prophet named Moroni wrote, "For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
                    "For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
                    "For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni 7:6-8).

                    These two scriptures tell us that we should not pay tithing just to receive blessings, but that we should pay tithing with the right attitude - willingly, cheerfully, and with faith.  Moroni told us that we should pay tithing "with real intent" or with sincerity and a real desire to give it.

                    In the early days of the Church, tithing was often paid "in kind" or one-tenth of their increase in things such as crops and livestock.  "Grandpa Vanisi's spirituality inspired an awe in me as a child.  I remember following him daily to his plantation.  He would always point out to me the very best of his taro, bananas, or yams and say:  `These will be for our tithing.'  His greatest care was given to these `chosen' ones.  During the harvest, I was often the one assigned to take our load of tithing to the branch president.  I remember sitting on the family horse.  Grandfather would lift onto its back a sack of fine taro which I balanced in front of me.  Then with a very serious look in his eyes, he said to me, `Simi, be very careful because this is our tithing.'  From my grandfather I learned early in life that you give only your best to the Lord" (quoted by Dallin H. Oaks, in Ensign, May 1994, 35).

                    Even though we no longer pay tithing "in kind," we can still give our "best" to the Lord by paying tithing with the proper attitude and by paying tithing first, before we purchase other things we need or desire.  Our attitude and motivation are important in our tithe paying because they show our faith and obedience.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles shared the following story:  "My attitude toward the law of tithing was set in place by the example and words of my mother, illustrated in a conversation I remember from my youth.

                    "During World War II, my widowed mother supported her three young children on a schoolteacher's salary that was meager.  When I became conscious that we went without some desirable things because we didn't have enough money, I asked my mother why she paid so much of her salary as tithing.  I have never forgotten here explanation:  `Dallin, there might be some people who can get along without paying tithing, but we can't.  The Lord has chosen to take your father and leave me to raise you children.  I cannot do that without the blessings of the Lord, and I obtain those blessings by paying an honest tithing.  When I pay my tithing, I have the Lord's promise that he will bless us, and we must have those blessings if we are to get along'" (in Ensign, May 1994, 33).

                    President George Albert Smith, eighth President of the Church, was talking to a longtime friend after they had both attended a Church conference.  The friend explained to President Smith how he paid tithing.

                    "`Well,' he said, `if I make ten thousand dollars in a year, I put a thousand dollars in the bank for tithing.  I know why it's there.  Then when the bishop comes and wants me to make a contribution for the chapel or give him a check for a missionary …, if I think he needs the money, I give him a check…. Little by little I exhaust the thousand dollars, and every dollar of it has gone where I know it has done good.  Now, what do you think of that?'"

                    President Smith answered him:  "I think you are a very generous man with someone else's property….  You have not paid any tithing.  You have told me what you have done with the Lord's money….  You have taken your best partner's money, and have given it away" ("The Story of a Generous Man," Improvement Era, June 1947, 357; see also Sharing the Gospel with Others, comp. Preston Nibley [1948], 44-47).

                    Paying tithing faithfully includes doing it in the way the Lord has established.  It is not our responsibility to determine how tithing should be used.  We pay tithing because we love the Lord and have faith in Him; in return for our willing and cheerful faith, the Lord opens the windows of heaven for us.  I know that my family has received great blessings because we pay tithing.  I encourage all my readers to pay tithing willingly, cheerfully, and with faith in the Lord.

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