Lorenzo Snow: Financing God’s Kingdom
“Lesson 18: Lorenzo Snow: Financing God’s Kingdom,” The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, 84
Class members will desire to serve their fellowman by contributing financially to build up the kingdom of God on earth.
1. See that each class member has a copy of the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants.
2. Display the pictures of Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and Heber J. Grant in the color section.
3. If it is available, prepare to show The Windows of Heaven on the videocassette Moments in Church History (53145).
4. Photocopy or hand copy the prophets’ statements on tithing and assign four class members in advance to read them.
Suggested Lesson Development
Introduce The Windows of Heaven by telling the following:
President Snow had earlier devoted much time to financial matters in the Church and was very well qualified to handle them. When he became President of the Church in 1898, the greatest burden resting upon the Saints was the problem of financing the Church. The people were not paying their tithing as they should. “Years of persecution, unjust legislation by critics and enemies, expensive [court costs] had caused such severe financial pressures that the Church was facing financial bankruptcy. Turning to the Lord in prayer, President Snow was told to make a trip to St. George, visiting the principal settlements on the return trip. [The trip was made in 1899; St. George is three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City.] Though the purpose of the visit was not clear in light of the plea for assistance in the financial crisis, Lorenzo and selected brethren left for the southern Utah settlement” (Heidi S. Swinton, “Lorenzo Snow,” in Leonard J. Arrington, ed., The Presidents of the Church [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], p. 174).
Videocassette and reading
Show the videocassette, part 6, The Windows of Heaven. If it is not available, read the following:
At St. George, President Snow received a marvelous revelation. He was told that if the Saints would live the existing law of tithing, the Church as a whole and the Saints individually would be blessed and their financial problems would be less. Said President Snow:
“The time has now come for every Latter-day Saint, who calculates to be prepared for the future and to hold his feet strong upon a proper foundation, to do the will of the Lord and to pay his tithing in full. That is the word of the Lord to you, and it will be the word of the Lord to every settlement throughout the land of Zion. After I leave you [the people in St. George] and you get to thinking about this, you will see yourselves that the time has come when every man should stand up and pay his tithing in full. The Lord has blessed us and has had mercy upon us in the past; but there are times coming when the Lord requires us to stand up and do that which He has commanded and not leave it any longer. What I say to you in this stake of Zion I will say to every stake of Zion that has been organized. There is no man or woman that now hears what I am saying who will feel satisfied if he or she fails to pay a full tithing (18 May 1899, MS, 61:533.)” (Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, Clyde J. Williams, comp. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984], p. 155).
President Snow then promised the Saints in St. George that the Lord would send them rain. They had been suffering from a terrible drought.
• What existing principle did the Lord stress to President Snow to solve the financial problems of the Church? (Tithing; it should be strictly observed.)
• What did President Snow promise the Saints in St. George if they would pay an honest tithe? (They would receive rain.)
The Scriptures and the Latter-day Prophets Teach Us about the Importance of Tithing
Have the class read and mark Doctrine and Covenants 119:4.
In this scripture the Lord declared a tithe to be “one-tenth of all their interest annually”: interest is understood to mean income.
Quotations and pictures
Have the assigned class members read the following statements. If you wish, display a picture of each of the prophets as their statement is read.
President Wilford Woodruff
“I want the brethren to understand this one thing, that our tithing, our labor, our works are not for the exaltation of the Almighty, but they are for us” (Emerson Roy West, Profiles of the Presidents [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], p. 155).
President Lorenzo Snow (at a solemn assembly in the Salt Lake Temple, 2 July 1899)
“A part of a tithing is no tithing at all in the eyes of the law that the Lord has revealed” (Life of Joseph F. Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 308).
President Joseph F. Smith
“The law of tithing is a test by which the people as individuals shall be proved. Any man who fails to observe this principle shall be known as a man who is indifferent to the welfare of Zion, who neglects his duty as a member of the Church” (Gospel Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], p. 226).
President Heber J. Grant
“I bear witness—and I know that the witness I bear is true—that the men and women who have been absolutely honest with God, who have paid their one-tenth … God has given them wisdom whereby they have been able to utilize the remaining nine-tenths, and it has been of greater value to them, and they have accomplished more with it than they would if they had not been honest with the Lord” (West, Profiles of the Presidents, 1972 ed., p. 231).
Discussion and chalkboard
List on the chalkboard some things that these Presidents of the Church have told us about the law of tithing. (Tithing is for our exaltation; it is for spiritual blessings, not just financial blessings; paying part of a tithing is not obeying the law of the tithe; the law of tithing is a test; those who pay tithing are able to use their money more wisely than those who do not.)
How Are Church Contributions Used?
Contributions to the Church are and have been used in many of the following ways to build up the kingdom of God:
Chalkboard and discussion
Draw the following diagram on the chalkboard before class time:
Use the diagram to explain the following:
Tithing is the major contribution we make to the Church. It pays for the overall operations of the Church, such as buildings (meetinghouses and temples), missionary programs, educational facilities and programs (colleges and seminaries), family history expenses, and administrative costs (development of this manual, for instance). However, tithing is not the only Church contribution made by members.
• What are some of the other contributions you and your family make to the Church? (List answers, which will vary, on the individual lines of the diagram. The answers should include fast offering and missionary fund. See above diagram.) Emphasize that labor and donations in kind are as valuable as cash contributions.
In addition to the blessings from giving, we enjoy the services, facilities, and opportunities that these contributions make available to each of us as members of God’s kingdom.
Heavenly Father Blesses Those Who Give to Build the Kingdom
Experience and discussion
Read or tell in your own words the following experience of Elder Angel Abrea, of the Seventy:
“I remember once in 1957, while I was acting as a new president of a branch in Argentina, I decided to interview the members with respect to the importance of paying tithing. I found myself talking with one good brother of the branch whose name was Jose, who had difficulty paying his tithing. I asked him bluntly, ‘Brother Jose, why don’t you pay your tithing?’ I’m sure Jose didn’t expect me to be so direct.
“After a moment of silence he responded: ‘As you know, President, I have two children. The wage of a laborer is very low. This month I have to buy my children shoes to go to school; and, mathematically, I just don’t have enough money.’
“In an instant response, I said, ‘Jose, I promise you that if you pay your tithing faithfully, your children will have their shoes to go to school, and you will be able to pay for all the needs of your home. I don’t know how he will do it, but the Lord always keeps his promises. Besides that,’ I added, ‘If you still find that you don’t have enough money, I will give you back what you paid in tithing from my own pocket.’
“On the way home, I wondered if what I had done was the right thing. Here I was, recently married, just getting started in my career, and faced with my own economic problems. I began to worry about my own shoes, let alone those of Jose’s family! Even though when I got home my dear wife wholeheartedly supported me and reassured me that everything would be all right, I must say that that night nobody prayed harder for Brother Jose’s economic welfare than I did.
“One month later, I once again sat down with Jose. Though the tears in his eyes almost made it impossible for him to speak, he said: ‘President, it is incredible. I paid my tithing; I was able to meet all of my obligations, and I even purchased the new shoes for my children, all without an increase in my wage. I know that the Lord keeps his promises!’ ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, p. 34; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, pp. 24–25).
Scriptures and chalkboard
Elder Abrea expected the Lord to bless Jose if he kept the law of tithing.
• Has the Lord ever given us such a promise? (Yes, he will pour out blessings on those who pay their tithing.)
Testimony and Challenge
Complete the lesson by bearing your testimony that the Lord keeps his promises. If we keep the commandment of tithing, we shall be blessed. Encourage the class members to share personal experiences regarding the blessings and joys received from having paid tithing and other obligations. Challenge the class to contribute to the building of the kingdom of God.^ Back to top