Viewpoint: Make a Payment of Faith
- Everyone is charged with the same percentage of tithing and we are all blessed.
- God doesn’t need our tithing money—it’s for our benefit.
- The core of the Law of Tithing is faith.
“No matter how rich or poor we are, all of us pay the same one-tenth of our increase annually, and all of us receive blessings.” – Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
A story is told of a brand new bishop receiving a promise from a young father that he would be obedient in living the principle of tithing every year. The end of the first year came and the man faithfully paid his tithing of $1,000. The next year the man was blessed with a new job and salary making his contribution by year end $10,000.
After four years, the young father was operating his own business and making income in the millions. At this point he met with the bishop to discuss the impossible nature of continuing to pay his tithing. “When I made so little it wasn’t a big deal,” said the young father. “Now I can’t afford to pay tithing.”
The bishop bowed his head in silence for a few moments. Growing impatient, the young father asked, “Bishop, are you praying to ask God if He will let me out of my promise?” The bishop raised his head and said, “No. I could never do that. I am instead asking God to bless you with an income that will make it easier for you to pay tithing.”
Parting with the monetary substance of one’s efforts in order to build the kingdom of God is a test of faith for many. For some, giving an honest tithing requires sacrificing the potential joy of acquiring a material object or purchasing a pleasurable experience. For others it is overcoming the fear of being able to meet the daily needs of life by giving away needed resources.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Tithing is the great equitable law, for no matter how rich or poor we are, all of us pay the same one-tenth of our increase annually, and all of us receive blessings so great ‘that there shall not be room enough to receive [them]’ ” (Malachi 3:10) (“Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually,” Ensign, May 2009).
The scriptures are filled with examples of the Lord requiring His people to give back to Him, and the promises of being a willing participant are great. “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10).
Scriptural precedence for tithing in the modern day is given by the Lord: “And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 119:4).
Tithing is practiced among people of other faiths. A research study conducted by The Barna Group in 2012 examined the giving patterns of Americans. Among adults surveyed, five percent said they paid a full tithe that year (Barnagroup.org, 2013).
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins wrote this about tithing: “Also remember the power and value of tithing. … The beauty of tithing is that by giving away a portion of what you earn, you are teaching your brain that you have more than enough. You’ll be beyond scarcity and that belief system alone will change your life” (Awaken the Giant Within, p. 469).
Many critics question why God needs money when He has the power to do anything. The article “Why Should I Worry About Paying Tithing?” in the June 2001 Liahona states, “The first thing we need to understand about tithing is the Lord doesn’t need our money. This whole earth and countless others are His. If He wanted to, He could finance His work in some other way. … He could — but He doesn’t — which means the law of tithing must have a greater purpose than merely financing the Lord’s work.”
So what is this greater purpose? The same Liahona article continues, “The law of tithing is given not so much to benefit the Church financially as to bless individual tithe payers spiritually. Tithing is about faith, not just money. The Lord is not interested in how many doorknobs or hymn books your 10 percent can purchase. He is interested in the condition of your heart and your willingness to do His will.”
If God’s kingdom is one of the few things that continues on into the Millennium, isn’t it a wise investor who participates in building such a kingdom? Not much else will matter. And for the faithful tithe payer who participates in building His kingdom, the Lord makes a promise: “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:23).
Many people wonder where tithing money goes. Church members typically give their tithing donations to local leaders. These local leaders transmit tithing funds directly to the headquarters of the Church, where a council determines specific ways to use the sacred funds. Doctrine and Covenants 120:1 outlines that this council is comprised of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Presiding Bishopric. Acting according to revelation, the council makes decisions as they are directed by the Lord.
Some of the things that tithing money has been spent on in the past are construction of temples, chapels and other buildings. It also provides operating funds for the Church. Individual missionary funds are not paid for by tithing monies, but funding the Church’s missionary program is included. Tithing funds are also used for education and preparing materials used in Church classes and organizations. Temple work, family history, and many other important Church functions are also funded by tithing (Tithing FAQ, Mormon.org).
Let us never forget that at the core of the Law of Tithing is the principle of faith. “Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things” (Lectures on Faith, 6:7).