Illustration by Jim Madsen
President Thomas S. Monson teaches that “the honest payment of tithing provides a person the inner strength and commitment to comply with the other commandments.”1 I was fortunate to gain a testimony of this principle while still a young man.
When I was 14 years old, I began my first job, earning 2 U.S. dollars per hour as a construction laborer. The paycheck for my first week totaled 80 dollars. I wanted to buy an eight-track tape stereo, which was the newest music technology at the time. The full-function model I wanted cost 320 dollars. I excitedly shared with Mom and Dad my intent to purchase the stereo after completing four weeks of work.
More than Four Weeks
My parents wisely taught, “It will take more than four weeks to earn enough money to buy that music player. You should express gratitude to God for His many blessings by paying 10 percent of your income as tithing. You will need to pay the government about 10 percent in taxes. And you should learn while young to obey the counsel of prophets in preparing financially for the future, including your mission; we suggest you set aside 30 percent of your earnings in a savings account.”
My teenage mind quickly calculated that if I did as my parents taught, I would have only 40 dollars each week to spend, which meant I would have to work at least two months to purchase my desired stereo. I found myself at a critical decision point—would obtaining material possessions be my priority, or would I sacrifice to pay tithing and set aside savings?
He Will Open a Way
“All of us can afford to pay tithing. In reality, none of us can afford not to pay tithing. The Lord will strengthen our resolve. He will open a way to comply.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “Be Thou an Example,” Liahona, Jan. 1997, 42.
Pay Tithing First
For the Strength of Youth counsels: “Pay [tithing] first, even when you think you do not have enough money to meet your other needs. Doing so will help you develop greater faith, overcome selfishness, and be more receptive to the Spirit.”2
I decided at age 14 to pay an honest tithing for the remainder of my life. I determined to follow the prophet in saving money for my mission and future education. This experience also taught me to distinguish between wants and needs. I wanted the newest technology, but I did not need it. So I decided to buy a much less expensive model with fewer functions, and it was still performing well when I left on my mission.
As I learned through paying tithing that the Lord keeps His promises, my faith grew stronger and so did my desire to keep His other commandments. I learned that if I contributed a generous fast offering, He would answer my prayers and guide me continually (see Isaiah 58:6–11). I learned that if I read the Book of Mormon, He would manifest the truth of it to me by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:4–5). I learned that if I obeyed the Word of Wisdom, He would give me health, wisdom, and knowledge and that I could “run and not be weary” (see D&C 89:18–21). And I learned that if I kept the law of chastity, the Holy Ghost could be my constant companion and the Savior would give me confidence to one day stand unashamed in His presence (see D&C 121:45–46).
Another way paying tithes and offerings has increased my inner strength is through temple covenants. For the Strength of Youth teaches, “In order to enter the temple, you must be a full-tithe payer.”3 When I enter the holy temple, I feel God’s presence and His love. I testify that in temple ordinances, we receive “power from on high” (D&C 95:8) to cheerfully meet and overcome the challenges of mortality.
A Blessing in Store
Paying tithes and offerings has increased my faith that the Lord fulfills His promises. Through the prophet Malachi, He declared, “Bring ye all the tithes … and prove me now herewith, … 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” (Malachi 3:10).
Throughout my life, even during financial trials early in my marriage, God always opened the windows of heaven so that our family received the temporal necessities of life. I testify that through obedience to the law of tithing, your faith will grow into a great source of strength in your life.
I invite each youth—and every member—to hearken unto Jesus Christ and His prophets by paying a full tithe and a generous fast offering throughout your life. I promise that the Lord will strengthen you and prosper you in accomplishing your righteous desires according to His holy purposes.