God has always asked his people to sacrifice. It is a fundamental principle that appears throughout the scriptures and Judeo-Christian theology; steaming all the way back to Adam who gave sacrifice on an alter.
This article is derived from my notes on a talk I gave in a sacrament meeting many years ago.
Today, tithing is a fundamental principle to the personal happiness and well-being of Church members both rich and poor. It is a sacrifice that the lord expects us to make.
In “Lectures on Faith (1985), 69–70 (as repeated by President James E. Faust), The Prophet Joseph Smith is quoted as saying, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. Those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith, because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith.”
Jame E. Faust, The Second Counselor in the First Presidency continued commenting on this in the Oct. 1998 Sunday morning session of conference saying:
“If something can be had cheaply, without exertion or sacrifice, people do not mind having a little bit of it. In contrast, the blessings of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints require both exertion and sacrifice. Receiving the blessings requires the payment of tithes and offerings.”
To expand on his topic President Faust gave this story:
“As a boy I learned a great lesson of faith and sacrifice as I worked on my grandfather’s farm during the terrible economic depression of the 1930s. The taxes on the farm were delinquent, and Grandfather, like so many, had no money. There was a drought in the land, and some cows and horses were dying for lack of grass and hay. One day when we were harvesting what little hay there was in the field, Grandfather told us to take the wagon to the corner of the field where the best stand of hay stood and fill the wagon as full as we could and take it to the tithing yard as payment of his tithing in kind.
I wondered how Grandfather could use the hay to pay tithing when some of the cows that we were depending upon to sustain us might starve. I even questioned if the Lord expected that much sacrifice from him. Ultimately, I marveled at his great faith that somehow the Lord would provide. The legacy of faith he passed on to his posterity was far greater than money, because he established in the minds of his children and grandchildren that above all he loved the Lord and His holy work over other earthly things. He never became wealthy, but he died at peace with the Lord and with himself.”
How much tithing are we command to pay?
D&C 119:4 says, “And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually.”
Very little other counsel is giving in this respect. It is between us and the lord to decide the actual dollar amount, and around the end of each year we have the great blessing to meet with our bishop and report on our tithing. All he asks is whether or not you have paid a full tithe. Although he may give you a receipt, he’s not going act like an IRS agent and ask for your pay stubs or check your accounting methods. It’s not even necessary to make sure we have made all our contributions we plan to make for the year. He’s know it’s between you and the lord and is merely their to help us stay accountable as a servant of the Lord.
If you haven’t been paying your tithing this is the perfect opportunity to repent, and to start anew. Don’t feel like you have to catch up, the Lord doesn’t collect back taxes, but he does want to be able to bless you for your obedience going forward.
Let us not be like the men spoken of in Malachi 3:8 which says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”
President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) put it very boldly in saying: “By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. … By it it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith , 276).
Tithing may seem difficult at to pay at times, but God has promised us that he will not give a commandment without provide a way for us to full fill it.
This is evidenced by Nephi as found in 1st Nephi 3:7: “. . . the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”