Some people are shocked to learn that as a member of the LDS faith, I pay 10% of my annual income in tithing.
I feel deeply that the Lord has given me everything I have. Giving back 10% as a token of gratitude just feels right. The tithes of the church are used to help the needy, build meetinghouses and temples, support missionary work, translate and publish scriptures, foster family history research, fund schools and religious education, and to accomplish many other Church purposes. I know that my contribution is put to good use, and it feels good to do my part. In the bible, in the book of Malachi, there are some beautiful verses on tithing that I love:
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3: 8-12).
One of my favorite General Conference addresses was on the principle of tithing. David A. Bednar spoke about the subtle blessings that come into our lives as we give back to the Lord in His prescribed way:
- “A subtle but significant blessing we receive is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (see Luke 12:15).”
- “We might want and expect a job offer, but the blessing that comes to us through heavenly windows may be greater capacity to act and change our own circumstances rather than expecting our circumstances to be changed by someone or something else.”
- “We may appropriately desire and work to receive a pay raise in our employment to better provide the necessities of life. Eyes and ears of faith are required, however, to notice in us an increased spiritual and temporal capacity (see Luke 2:52) to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired.”
- “Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.”
IN OUR CONSUMER DRIVEN SOCIETY, I want to have the gift of gratitude for what I already have. I want to do more with less, prioritize and simplify my life and my wants. I want to have the stamina to be self-reliant and stand on my own feet financially. I want the perspective, patience, confidence, resilience and grace that Bednar describes. Sometimes, when I walk into a store, I feel like a rat in an impossible race for more. Suddenly I NEED things I didn’t know existed a few moments before. How empty and vapid it feels to return to the real world after a marketing-induced shopping frenzy and remember that many people are suffering and in need—genuine need. Shouldn’t I have cared more for them than for myself? Why do we waste our resources on things of little worth, our labor for that which cannot satisfy? I want more than that out of life, I want more than that out of myself.