Lesson 30: Tithes and Offerings

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part B, (2000), 251–56


The purpose of this lesson is to help us live the law of tithing and be generous in our offerings.

Introduction

  • Write on the chalkboard Will a man rob God?

When Christ visited the American continent after His Resurrection, He asked the Nephites a question previously asked by Malachi, an Old Testament prophet: “Will a man rob God?” (Malachi 3:8; 3 Nephi 24:8).

The Law of Tithing

The law of tithing is more than a commandment from the Lord. Through it we have an opportunity to return to Him a part of all He has given us. Through it we can also help build His kingdom and show our faith in Him.

The question is often asked, “What is a full, honest tithe?” A tithe is one-tenth of our increase (see D&C 119). This means that we give one-tenth of our income; or, if our increase is in flocks, herds, or crops rather than money, we give one-tenth of those things. (See Leviticus 27:30, 32.)

We pay tithing by giving it to the Lord’s representative: a member of the bishopric or branch presidency. He then sends these funds to Church headquarters, where a record is kept of our tithing and other contributions.

Once a year each member is asked to make a special appointment with the bishop or branch president. At this time he privately reviews our tithing record with us and asks us if we have paid a full tithing for the year. This meeting is called tithing settlement.

The Lord considers the paying of tithing so important that we cannot receive a temple recommend unless we pay a full tithe. Furthermore, men and young men should be full-tithe payers before they are advanced in the priesthood.

Elder Matthew Cowley of the Quorum of the Twelve told of a good Maori sister living in a remote village of New Zealand who had the true spirit of paying tithing:

“Now, on one occasion I called in as I always did when I visited that vicinity, to see this grand little woman, then in her eighties, and blind. She did not live in an organized branch, had no contact with the priesthood except as the missionaries visited there. …

“… She was out in her back yard by her little fire. I reached forth my hand to shake hands with her, and I was going to rub noses with her [in the Maori fashion] and she said, ‘Do not shake hands with me.’ …

“… Then she got on her hands and knees and crawled over to her little house. At the corner of the house there was a spade. She lifted up that spade and crawled off in another direction, measuring the distance she went. She finally arrived at a spot and started digging. … [Her spade] finally struck something hard. She took out … a fruit jar. She opened that fruit jar and reached down in it, took something out and handed it to me, and it turned out to be New Zealand money. In American money it would have been equivalent to one hundred dollars.

“She said: ‘There is my tithing. Now I can shake hands with the priesthood of God.’

“I said: ‘You do not owe that much tithing.’

“She said: ‘I know it. I do not owe it now, but I am paying some in advance, for I do not know when the priesthood of God will get around this way again.’

“And then I leaned over and pressed my nose and forehead against hers, and the tears from my eyes ran down her cheeks” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1948, 159–60).

  • How does paying tithing show our love for the Lord? How does it show our faith?

Offerings

We may contribute other money besides tithing to help build the Lord’s kingdom. These contributions are called offerings.

On fast Sunday each month, members should contribute fast offerings that are at least equal to the value of the two meals not eaten during the fast. Other offerings members may make include contributions to the Church missionary fund, the LDS Foundation, or Church humanitarian aid. Members may use the Tithing and Other Offerings form when making these and other contributions.

The following story, told by Elder Boyd K. Packer, helps us understand the importance of paying tithes and offerings:

Several years ago two missionaries reported to their branch president that a family they were teaching had suddenly decided against baptism. The father had learned about tithing and canceled all further meetings with the missionaries.

“A few days later,” Elder Packer explains, “the branch president persuaded the elders to join him in another visit to the family.

“‘I understand,’ he told the father, ‘that you have decided not to join the Church.’

“‘That is correct,’ he answered.

“‘The elders tell me that you are disturbed about tithing.’

“‘Yes,’ said the father. ‘They had not told us about it; and when I learned of it, I said, “Now that’s too much to ask. Our church has never asked anything like that.” We think that’s just too much, and we will not join.’

“‘Did they tell you about fast offering?’ he asked.

“‘No,’ said the man. ‘What is that?’

“‘In the Church we fast for two meals each month and give the value of the meals for the help of the poor.’

“‘They did not tell us that,’ the man said. …

“‘Did they explain the welfare program to you?’

“‘No,’ said that father, ‘What is that?’

“‘Well, we believe in helping one another. If someone is in need or ill or out of work or in trouble, we are organized to assist, and you would be expected to help.’

“‘Did they also tell you that we have no professional clergy? All of us contribute our time, our talents, our means, and travel—all to help the work. And we’re not paid for it in money.’

“‘They didn’t tell us any of that,’ said the father.

“‘Well,’ said the branch president, ‘if you are turned away by a little thing like tithing, it is obvious you’re not ready for this Church. Perhaps you have made the right decision and you should not join.’

“As they departed, almost as an afterthought, he turned and said, ‘Have you ever wondered why people will do all of these things willingly? I have never received a bill for tithing. No one has ever called to collect it. But we pay it—and all of the rest—and count it a great privilege.

“‘If you could discover why, you would be within reach of the pearl of great price. …

“‘But,’ said the branch president, ‘it is your decision. I only hope you will pray about it.’

“A few days later the man appeared at the branch president’s home. … He wanted to schedule the baptism of his family” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 126–27; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 88).

  • What influenced this man to join the Church?

Use of Tithes and Offerings

The tithes and offerings we give to the Church are used for the Lord’s work. This money is spent by our priesthood leaders in ways the Lord has appointed. These contributions help bring our brothers and sisters back to our Father in Heaven.

  • Why does it take money to accomplish the Lord’s work?

Some of the ways our tithes and offerings are used are to help:

  1. 1.

    Operate the missionary program.

  2. 2.

    Build and maintain chapels, temples, and other buildings.

  3. 3.

    Educate people in Church schools, seminaries, and institutes.

  4. 4.

    Create, print, and distribute the scriptures, lesson manuals, and other Church materials.

  5. 5.

    Further family history work.

  6. 6.

    Provide for those in need.

  7. 7.

    Meet the expenses of general conferences.

Paying Tithes and Offerings Willingly

  • Why is it a privilege to give tithes and offerings to the Lord?

We should pay our tithes and offerings willingly. The scriptures tell us to give “not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The scriptures also say that if a man “doeth it grudgingly … it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift” (Moroni 7:8).

Elder Marion G. Romney had an experience that helps us understand this scripture. The experience occurred during a time when Church members were asked to contribute money specifically for the building of new meetinghouses.

“About a quarter of a century ago Sister Romney and I moved into a ward in which they were just beginning to build a meetinghouse. The size of the contribution the bishop thought I ought to contribute rather staggered me. I thought it was at least twice as much as he should have asked. However, … I said, ‘Well, I will pay it, Bishop, but I will have to pay it [a little at a time] because I don’t have the money.’ And so I began to pay. And I paid and paid until I was down to about the last three payments, when, as is my habit, I was reading The Book of Mormon, and came to the scripture which said:

“‘… if a man … giveth a gift … grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God’ (Moroni 7:8.)

“This shocked me because I was out about a thousand dollars. Well, I went on and paid the [rest of what] I had promised to pay, and then I paid … more … to convince the Lord that I had done it with the right attitude” (“Mother Eve, A Worthy Exemplar,” Relief Society Magazine, Feb. 1968, 84–85).

Blessings of Paying Tithes and Offerings

The Lord has promised that when we willingly contribute tithes and offerings, He will bless us.

President Joseph F. Smith told the following story about the blessings that come from paying tithing: “I recollect most vividly a circumstance that occurred in the days of my childhood. My mother was a widow, with a large family to provide for. One spring when we opened our potato pits, she had her boys get a load of the best potatoes and she took them to the tithing office; potatoes were scarce that season. I was a little boy at the time, and drove the team. When we drove up to the steps of the tithing office, ready to unload the potatoes, one of the clerks came out and said to my mother, ‘Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.’ … He chided my mother for paying her tithing, called her anything but wise or prudent; and said there were others who were strong and able to work that were supported from the tithing office. My mother turned upon him and said: ‘… You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold his blessing from me. I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper, and to be able to provide for my family.’ … She prospered because she obeyed the laws of God. She had abundance to sustain her family. We never lacked as much as many others did. … That widow was entitled to the privileges of the house of God. No ordinance of the gospel could be denied her, for she was obedient to the laws of God” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 228–29).

  • Why did Sister Smith have her boys take the best potatoes for tithing? How did this experience help the boys understand the importance of tithing? What blessings did Sister Smith receive for paying tithing?

Elder Henry D. Taylor said this about the blessings we receive from paying tithes and offerings: “The Lord does keep his promises. He truly opens the windows of heaven and pours out his blessings upon those who are faithful and who obey his commandments. … These blessings may come in a financial or temporal way or may be realized by a spiritual outpouring, bringing strength, peace, and comfort” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 158; or Ensign, May 1974, 108).

Conclusion

The Lord has commanded us to pay tithes and offerings. As we do this, we build up the kingdom of God. We help bring happiness to many people, both living and deceased. When we obey these laws, we show our love for our Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ, and our brothers and sisters. We also demonstrate our faith in God. In return, we receive both temporal and spiritual blessings worth far more than what we give.

Challenge

If you are not already doing so, commit yourself to paying an honest tithing and attending tithing settlement. Carefully consider your offerings to the Church. If you feel that you should be contributing more, do so. Teach your family members the blessings of paying tithes and offerings, and help them to obey these laws.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Review Gospel Principles chapter 32, “Tithes and Offerings.”

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.