This lesson will help students understand the law of tithing and blessings that come when we live this law.
Write the following question on the board: In what ways are we blessed when we live the law of tithing?
Explain that beginning in 1837, the Church experienced significant financial difficulties, as did many individual Church members. Invite a student to read aloud the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 119. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Prophet Joseph Smith asked that led to this revelation.
What did Joseph Smith ask the Lord?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 119:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s answer to Joseph’s request.
According to verse 4, what is tithing? (Students should identify the following commandment: The Lord commands us to pay one-tenth of our increase to Him as tithing. You may want to write this commandment on the board.)
To help students understand the meaning of the word interest in verse 4, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter:
“The law is simply stated as ‘one-tenth of all their interest.’ Interest means profit, compensation, increase. It is the wage of one employed, the profit from the operation of a business, the increase of one who grows or produces, or the income to a person from any other source. The Lord said it is a standing law ‘forever’ as it has been in the past” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 35).
What do you learn from the Lord commanding the Saints to pay tithing at a time when it was difficult for them to do so?
In what ways is paying tithing an act of faith?
Invite a student to read the following statement by President James E. Faust of the First Presidency:
“Why should members worldwide, many of whom may not have enough for their daily needs, be encouraged to keep the Lord’s law of tithing? As President Hinckley said in Cebu in the Philippine Islands, if members ‘even living in poverty and misery … will accept the gospel and live it, pay their tithes and offerings, even though those be meager, … they will have rice in their bowls and clothing on their backs and shelter over their heads. I do not see any other solution’ [“Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, Aug. 1997, 7].
“Some may feel that they cannot afford to pay tithing, but the Lord has promised that He would prepare a way for us to keep all of His commandments [see 1 Nephi 3:7]. To pay tithing takes a leap of faith in the beginning. … I believe it is possible to break out of poverty by having the faith to give back to the Lord part of what little we have” (“Opening the Windows of Heaven,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 59).
To help students understand how to pay tithing, display a Tithing and Other Offerings form. Ask students to imagine that they have just earned some money. Invite a student to suggest an amount.
How much tithing should be paid on that amount of money?
Record the tithing amount in the correct place on the form and ask the following question:
If we divide 10 percent of our income among the different donation categories on the form, have we paid a full tithe? (Make sure students understand that 10 percent of their income should be listed as tithing. Any donations they make to other funds are in addition to that 10 percent.)
Divide students into pairs. Ask them to explain to one another their understanding of how tithing funds are used. Then invite them to read the Lord’s explanation in Doctrine and Covenants 119:2.
According to verse 2, what are tithing funds used for? (Tithing is used “for the building of [the Lord’s] house” [building temples] and “for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood” [financing other aspects of the Lord’s work, such as building and maintaining meetinghouses, translating and publishing the scriptures, and supporting missionary and family history work throughout the world]. You may want to point out that today the Church is not in debt. Write the following truth on the board: Tithing funds are used to build temples and to accomplish the work of the Lord.)
Invite two students to participate in a role play. Assign one student to act as a faithful member of the Church, while the second student assumes the role of someone who is not a member of the Church. Give the second student a piece of paper with the following question written on it: I heard that you give 10 percent of your income to your church. Why would you want to do that?
Ask the second student to read the question aloud, and invite the first student to respond. After the role play, ask the class how they might have responded. Point out that there are many good answers to this question.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 119:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what is accomplished by obedience to the law of tithing.
According to verse 6, what is accomplished by obedience to the law of tithing? (Sanctifying the land of Zion to the Lord.)
To help students understand this verse, explain that being sanctified refers to becoming free from sin—pure, clean, and holy through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In addition, remind students that Zion is more than a physical location; it is people who are “pure in heart” (D&C 97:21).
Invite students to summarize the effects of obeying the law of tithing in their own words. Although students may use other words, they should identify the following principle: Paying tithing sanctifies us as individuals and as a Church.
To help students understand and feel the importance of this principle, ask the following question:
In what ways do you think paying tithing would help someone be sanctified?
Refer to the question on the board: In what ways are we blessed when we live the law of tithing? You may want to invite students to share an experience and bear their testimonies of the law of tithing. You might do so as well. Encourage students to exercise faith by offering 10 percent of their increase as tithing to the Lord.
Invite students to think about the trials they have experienced and what they have learned from those experiences. How would you feel if you were falsely accused and sent to jail? Explain that during the next week they will study some principles that the Prophet Joseph Smith learned during his unjust imprisonment in Liberty Jail, including the Lord’s purposes for allowing us to experience trials.