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Saturday, October 16, 2021

How Does the Law of Tithing Work?

             For my Come, Follow Me lesson this week, I studied Doctrine and Covenants 115-120. The Saints had been driven from Independence, Missouri, which was the appointed place of Zion, and no one knew when they would be allowed to return. In addition, the Saints living in Kirtland, Ohio, were forced to flee from enemies outside the Church and prominent members who turned against Joseph Smith.

The governor of Missouri designated two counties in northern Missouri for the Saints, and the Saints were quickly gathering to the area. The new gathering place was Far West, Missouri with Adam-ondi-Ahman being a short distance north of the city. The Saints began creating a new holy place with plans to build another temple in Far West.

Shortly after moving to Far West, the Prophet Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants 115 on April 26, 1838, instructing the Saints to build another temple. He received Doctrine and Covenants 116 a couple of weeks later on May 19, 1838. This revelation identified Spring Hill, Missouri, as Adam-ondi-Ahman – the place where Adam lived. On July 8, 1838, the Prophet received four revelations now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 117-120.

In the revelations now designated as Doctrine and Covenants 119-120, the Lord addressed the significant financial problems of the Church when He gave instructions about the law of tithing and the distribution of tithing funds. The Lord explained that the Saints should tithe “one-tenth of all their interest annually” and that the law of tithing “shall be a standing law unto them forever” (verse 4). He said that the people were to prove their worthiness by paying tithing (verse 5) and that the land of Zion would be sanctified by this law (verse 6). Tithing is paid to the local bishop, and the bishop transfers the money to Church headquarters.

In Doctrine and Covenants 120, the Lord gave instructions for how to distribute tithing funds, saying that “it shall be disposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council; and by mine own voice unto them….”

The “bishop and his council” is the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, and “my high council” is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Thus, the council known as the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes is comprised of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric of the Church. The late-Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes.

It is remarkable to witness this council heed the Lord’s voice. Each member is aware of and participates in all the council’s decisions. No decision is made until the council is unanimous. All tithing funds are spent for the purposes of the Church, including welfare – care for the poor and needy – temples, buildings and upkeep of meetinghouses, education, curriculum – in short, the work of the Lord….

To Church members and others throughout the world, I bear my testimony of the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes. I have sat on this council for 17 years, as the Presiding Bishop of the Church and now as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Without exception, the tithing funds of this Church have been used for His purposes (“Tithing: A Test of Faith with Eternal Blessings,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 28).

            I was reared with a testimony of tithing. My parents married on October 2, 1929, a few weeks before the stock market crashed and the beginning of the Great Depression. They survived their first year of marriage on love, homemade bread, and bottled peaches. Sometime in the early years of their marriage, they made a difficult decision. They had $10 to their name, and they owed $10 in tithing. Should they pay tithing and try the Lord, or should they purchase food to keep them alive? They chose to pay tithing. A day or so later, a man came to purchase a load of hay, and they had money to buy food.

My husband and I have always paid tithing, and we have always had enough and to share. I know that obedience to the law of tithing brings blessings because I have seen them in my life. I encourage you to try the Lord and put the law of tithing to a test. I know that you will be blessed for doing so. I know that the Lord can bless you to do more with ninety percent of your money than you could do with one hundred percent of it. I know that paying ten percent to the Lord will open the windows of heaven in your behalf.

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