Doctrine and Covenants 119–20

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 199–201


In section 119 the Lord first gave the law of tithing as we live it today. President Joseph F. Smith explained:

“The law of tithing was instituted because the people could not abide the greater law. If we could live up to the law of consecration, then there would be no necessity for the law of tithing, because it would be swallowed up in the greater law. The law of consecration requires all; the law of tithing only requires one-tenth of your increase annually” (“Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith,” Millennial Star, June 18, 1894, 386).

Section 119 defines tithing, and section 120 explains who decides how tithing funds are spent.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric administer the tithing funds of the Church. Tithing funds are used to build up the Lord’s kingdom, for example by supporting missionary work and constructing chapels, temples, and seminary and institute buildings (see D&C 119:1–2; 120; see also D&C 97:10–14).

  • Tithing means giving the Lord one tenth of your annual increase (see D&C 119:3–7; see also Alma 13:15).

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, p. 191.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 292–95.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 119:1–2; 120. The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric administer the tithing funds of the Church. Tithing funds are used to build up the Lord’s kingdom.

(10–15 minutes)

Show students a picture of a chapel or temple. Ask:

  • How much would you guess it costs to build a chapel? a temple?

  • How many chapels do you think are built each year in the Church?

  • What blessings come to Church members through these buildings?

Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“As this Church grows, we have to accommodate our people. We will finish or dedicate 600 new buildings this year. This is a tremendous undertaking” (“Larry King Live,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 108).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 119:1–3; 120 and ask:

  • Where does the Church get the money to build these buildings?

  • Who decides how to use tithing funds?

  • What else is tithing money used for?

Read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“The Lord has directed by revelation that the expenditure of his tithes will be directed by his servants, the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric (see D&C 120). Those funds are spent to build and maintain temples and houses of worship, to conduct our worldwide missionary work, to translate and publish scriptures, to provide resources to redeem the dead, to fund religious education, and to support other Church purposes selected by the designated servants of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 46; or Ensign, May 1994, 35).

Ask: In addition to temples being built from tithing funds, how does tithing relate to temple worship? Share the following statement by President George F. Richards, who was President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The law of tithing in the Church is regarded as being of such importance, as a test of faith, that a member who does not believe and practice it as a divine law is not accounted as being worthy of receiving the priesthood and temple blessings” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1945, 26–27).

Explain that we pay tithing not only to build temples but also to be worthy to attend them. Encourage students to always be full-tithe payers.

Doctrine and Covenants 119:3–7. Tithing means giving the Lord one tenth of your annual increase.

(25–30 minutes)

Show students 10 items (for example, 10 apples, pencils, or chairs). Take away one of the items, and ask what principle of the gospel this depicts. Read Doctrine and Covenants 119:1, 3–7 and ask:

  • To whom do you pay your tithing? (The Lord, through His agent the bishop.)

  • What is eventually lost if you do not pay tithing?

  • Read Malachi 3:8–10; Doctrine and Covenants 64:23. According to these verses, what blessings result from paying tithing?

Share the following statements. President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, said:

“I do not say that if you pay an honest tithing you will realize your dream of a fine house, a Rolls Royce, and a condominium in Hawaii. The Lord will open the windows of heaven according to our need, and not according to our greed. If we are paying tithing to get rich, we are doing it for the wrong reason. The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on the Lord’s work. The blessing to the giver … may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit” (“The Sacred Law of Tithing,” Ensign, Dec. 1989, 4).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:

“Some people say, ‘I can’t afford to pay tithing.’ Those who place their faith in the Lord’s promises say, ‘I can’t afford not to pay tithing.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 44; or Ensign, May 1994, 34).


  • According to verse 4, how much does the Lord require as a tithe?

  • Who would be a good person to visit if you had questions about tithing? (Your bishop.)

  • When do we visit with the bishop and report our tithing status? (Tithing settlement.)

Elder Howard W. Hunter, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:

“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” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 35).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“The fact is that tithing is the Lord’s law of finance. It came of revelation from him. It is a divine law with a great and beautiful promise. It is applicable to every member of the Church who has income. It is applicable to the widow in her poverty as well as to the wealthy man in his riches” (“The Widow’s Mite,” in Brigham Young University 1985–86 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1986], 9).

President Brigham Young taught:

“We are not our own, we are bought with a price, we are the Lord’s; our time, our talents, our gold and silver, our wheat and fine flour, our wine and our oil, our cattle, and all there is on this earth that we have in our possession is the Lord’s, and he requires one-tenth of this for the building up of his Kingdom” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 176).

Discuss the following questions:

  • In addition to one tenth of our money and properties, what else did President Brigham Young say the Lord requires? (Our time, talents.)

  • How could you pay tithing on your time and talents?

  • What is 10 percent of 20 years?

  • How could serving a mission be like a tithing of a young man’s time?

  • What else can we do to give the Lord of our time and talents? (Serve in Church callings and perform other acts of service.)

Bear your testimony of tithing. If possible, share a personal experience that illustrates the blessings that come from paying a full tithing, or invite a student to share one.