Joseph Smith was given a revelation about tithing when he asked Heavenly Father to show the Saints how much He required of them. In July 1838 Joseph was told the Saints should pay one tenth of all they had for tithing. (D&C 64:23; D&C 119.) The Bible says Saints who do not pay tithing are robbing God. (Mal. 3:8–9.)
During the early years of the Church the Saints paid tithing in many different ways. Besides giving one-tenth of the money they earned (such as one penny from ten pennies), they gave one-tenth of their grain or hay or one-tenth of their chickens, milk and vegetables.
Our tithing money is used to build temples and meeting houses and to help missionary work. It is also used to help people who give all their time to the work of the Lord.
We must pay our tithing to be worthy to receive the priesthood and go to the temple. Heavenly Father has promised us we will be blessed in many wonderful ways when we obey the commandment of tithing.
The blessings we receive might not always be money. A true story about a man named Edward Stokes Rich shows how we can be blessed by paying our tithing.
When Edward Stokes Rich was twelve years old he went to work to help earn money for his family because he didn’t have a father. He worked at night for a local newspaper. He always gave the money he earned to his mother and she would take his tithing out for him to give to the bishop.
One month his mother said, “Edward, I know that you have no overcoat, and you must walk many miles to and from work each night. With winter coming soon, it’s going to be very cold when you walk home at four or five o’clock in the morning. So I’ll give you your tithing money and you can either pay your tithing or buy an overcoat. I’ll leave the decision up to you.”
He did exactly what she knew he’d do. Edward later recorded, “I took the money, ran immediately over to the bishop’s house, and paid the tithing.”
A week later his Aunt Mary came to visit, and brought with her an overcoat that one of her sons had outgrown. It fit Edward perfectly and “was a better overcoat than he could have purchased.” From that day, Edward recorded, he was always generous in paying his tithes and other Church offerings. (See Carol Rich Brown, Tambuli, December 1982)
There are many stories that express the blessings of keeping the commandment of tithing. By obeying this commandment we can receive many blessings from the Lord. In the Bible the Lord made a promise to Malachi: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, … 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.” (Mal. 3:10; italics added.)