Last week the bishop asked me to give a talk on tithing in sacrament meeting. It was finals week, so this felt like a daunting task on top of everything else. However, I have gotten in the habit of writing my testimony on this blog so I used it to write my talk. Here it is!
I am so grateful to be able to speak to you today about the law of Tithing.
Next to the desk in the office I work in, I have a bulletin board with inspirational quotes etc. and on it I have a quote that reads:
“Be fearless in building up the kingdom of Zion”
I look at it often and consider what I can do to help with the work. As members of this church, we have many opportunities to help build up the kingdom, and there are times when helping can seem challenging. and there are times when paying tithing can certainly fall into that category of things which seem difficult, but as President Lorenzo Snow so eloquently put it,
Tithing is not a difficult law . . . if a man receives ten dollars, his tithing is one dollar, if he receives one hundred, his tithing is ten . . it is very easy to comprehend.”
“It is a law revealed specially for our protection and safety, as well as for our advancement in the path of righteousness and holiness; a law by which the land on which we dwell might become sanctified; a law by which Zion might be built up and established never more to be thrown down or removed out of her place by wicked and ungodly men.
We have temples, and we receive blessings pertaining to them, even the highest ordinances ever administered to man on the earth, by reason of our obedience to this law. (1)
The Bible indicates that God’s people followed the law of tithing anciently; through modern prophets, God restored this law once again to bless His children. God created the world we live in and everything in it, including us. There is no way that we could possibly repay him. We are forever indebted to him and all he asks of us is ten percent of our.
In Elder Bednar’s conference talk on tithing “The Windows of Heaven” he describes how,
These sacred funds are used in a rapidly growing church to spiritually bless individuals and families by constructing and maintaining temples and houses of worship, supporting missionary work, translating and publishing scriptures, fostering family history research, funding schools and religious education, and accomplishing many other Church purposes as directed by the Lord’s ordained servants. (2)
I love that as members of this church we have the opportunity to help support and sustain our leaders, our ward-members, our missionaries, the youth of this church, and others around the world. I enjoy having the right and the responsibility to contribute to help maintain and develop all of the wonderful buildings that we have which allow us to worship, to have activities and meetings, blessing others of God’s children with the opportunity to learn of Him and grow in the gospel.
When I signed up for my first Institute class down at the SLCC campus, I was told that I could have a free parking pass. I love that my tithing funds go to help encourage young people to learn of our Heavenly Father, even by making it more convenient to come and attend the classes.
Developing Faith in Heavenly Father
Paying tithing helps us to develop faith in our Heavenly Father. When I started my journey back to the church, I had a whole myriad of difficult things to overcome, and some were a great challenge for me, but paying a full tithing was immediately a great blessing to me. It brought me great joy to have something that I was able to do without hesitation, with a thankful heart, it was a very tangible way for me to exercise my faith in the Lord.
Every time we pay our tithing we can have that same feeling of gratitude for having something temporal we can do to show our gratitude to our Heavenly Father.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve said,
the primary purpose of this law is to help us develop and test our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Tithing helps us overcome our desires for the things of this world and willingly make sacrifices for others.”
By sacrificing to the lord what we may think we need or want for ourselves, we learn to rely on Him. Our faith in Him makes it possible to keep temple covenants and receive eternal temple blessings . . . . (3)
In Malachai 3:10 we read:
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. (4)
In the 1900 General Conference of the LDS Church, Joseph F. Smith shared a memory of his mother:
“My mother was a widow, with a large family to provide for. One spring when we opened our potato pits she had her boys get a load of the best potatoes, and she took them to the tithing office; potatoes were scarce that season. I was a little boy at the time, and drove the team. When we drove up to the steps of the tithing office, ready to unload the potatoes, one of the clerks came out and said to my mother, ‘Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.’ … He chided my mother for paying her tithing, called her anything but wise or prudent; and said there were others who were strong and able to work that were supported from the tithing office. My mother turned upon him and said: ‘William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me. I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper and to be able to provide for my family'” (5)
During my preparation for this talk I have been given an opportunity to reflect on the blessings that I have received as a result of being a full tithing payer. I did a lot of Google searches to find inspiring stories from others, and then began to realize that I had many examples of my own.
In the fall I decided to go back to school. At the time, I was working a full time as a program manager and part time as a yoga instructor. I was teaching at my home studio in Sugarhouse, and at a new studio which recently opened up in West Jordan. (In case you didn’t know, the yoga that I teach takes place in a room with 110 degree heat and 40% humidity, so simply teaching a class can be physically exhausting.)
As is the case with most new yoga studios, the West Jordan studio was struggling to get on its feet, and I felt a great obligation to do whatever I could to help even though I was wearing myself thin; I didn’t want to let the owner down by taking time away to focus on school. I considered quitting my full-time job to teach and go to school full-time and I had been praying for an answer from Heavenly Father to help me to know where I should be focusing my efforts.
One morning, after a particularly strenuous and challenging 5:30 A.M. class, the owner came in and without my even asking, offered to give me a break. In an instant I was given permission to walk away from something that had been a great cause of worry and tension and I knew that Heavenly Father had a hand in it. I knew that my efforts were meant to be placed elsewhere and it was such a blessing to receive an answer to this question that had been constantly on my mind.
This also meant that I would be losing a chunk of my income, but I knew that the Lord would help me to survive because I had been faithful in paying my tithing.
And the simple truth is this: I have had more than enough each month. You hear stories all the time about people deciding to pay a full tithing, even when they were struggling to make ends meet, and somehow being able to make it work. It works because the Lord opens the windows of heaven and pours the blessings out. I encourage each one of you to test your faith in the Lord by paying a full tithing. Prove Him now herewith. Be fearless in building up the Kingdom of Zion. I bear my testimony that if you do this, there will be joy in your heart, that the Lord keeps his promises and that the windows of heaven will be opened to you, you will receive great blessings both temporal and spiritual that there will not be room enough to receive them. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
“Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow Chapter 12: Tithing, a Law for Our Protection and Advancement.” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow Chapter 12: Tithing, a Law for Our Protection and Advancement. 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.
Bednar, David A. “The Windows of Heaven – David A. Bednar.” The Windows of Heaven – David A. Bednar. 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.
Hales, Robert D. “Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually – Robert D. Hales.” Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually – Robert D. Hales. 1 Apr. 2009. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.
Malachai. 3:10. Print.