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
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
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.