Tithes and Offerings

Tithes and Offerings

We know that our Father in Heaven desires to bless us.  He blesses us whenever we ask Him and whenever we are obedient to His laws and commandments.[1]  Like a beautiful firework which shoots out colorful sparks into the dark sky delighting all who see, His blessings also shoot out in all directions and shower down upon us with remarkable beauty.    His blessings come in many ways and in great abundance.  However, blessings do not always come in the ways that we specifically ask, at the time we think best or in the form that we expect.  But, blessings always come. 

Tithing is a commandment that brings great blessings but it is not always easy to obey.  We all worry about having enough food to eat, a comfortable and safe home in which to live and access to good health care and education.  All of these needs seem to require us to have money and possessions.   Obeying the law of tithing requires us to give up security and comfort that comes from having more physical possessions.  It requires us to show that our hearts are not set on the things of this world but rather set on the treasures of heaven.[2]  It requires us to trust in God and have faith that we will always be given “enough and to spare”.[3]

The law of tithing is simple.  It requires us to “pay one-tenth of all [our] interest annually” [4] – that means ten percent of our income.  Tithing is a “standing law unto [us] forever”.[5]    Malachi states that if we obey the law of tithing, the Lord will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”[6]  The blessings promised to us by obeying this law are significant and abundant – but not always obvious.

Elder Bednar notes that:

Often as we teach and testify about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings that we receive. And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain as we are obedient to this commandment are significant but subtle. Such blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).[7]

significant but subtle

To understand this principal, let us go back in time to 1845.  At that time, the Church had only been established for 15 years.  Most of the members had gathered to the city of Nauvoo, a beautiful city of almost 20,000 inhabitants built by the Saints.  The prophet Joseph Smith had already been martyred and Saints encountered great persecution. Enemies of the Church were burning homes, farms and fields of the Saints and forcing them out of Nauvoo.  Yet, in the midst of great hardship, the Saints had been commanded to build a temple.  Work on the temple required great sacrifice.   A young man learned of the difficulty the Church was having in completing the temple, came to Brigham Young on July 8, 1845, and gave him all of his life savings. This was an amount of $2,500 in gold coin, a very large amount in that day.  The money was to be used to help complete the temple. 

All the Saints had been asked to pay tithing, one tenth of their income, to build the temple.  Great amounts of money were needed.  The money came from people who were poor, destitute, under attack, struggling to provide for their families and preparing to leave their homes to travel into a wilderness.  In spite of this difficulty, by December 1845, the temple was ready.  Then, two months later, during the coldest part of winter, the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo, leaving their beautiful city and sacred temple.  Two years later the Nauvoo Temple was burned to the ground, leaving nothing but the foundation.  The remains of the temple were sold for the price of $2,000, a small fraction of its original cost.[8]

The Saints must have been very disappointed and sad.  Perhaps some of them wondered why the Lord would do this. Why would they be required to sacrifice so much only to have the temple destroyed?  What about the young man who gave $2,500?  He left Nauvoo with nothing.  Where were the blessings promised by Malachi?    

But in these wonderful examples of faith we see the “significant but subtle” blessings that come from tithing.  During the period of two months before the Saints left Nauvoo, temple blessings were finally made available to faithful Saints.  Five thousand were able to participate in temple ordinances and received their endowments. The temple was busy day and night.  As the Saints departed Nauvoo over frozen rivers and into an unknown wilderness, they took with them “power from on high”[9] and the blessings of being sealed together as eternal families.  These are treasures that could not be destroyed by man or corrupted by moths.[10] 

From these experiences, we also see the close connection between temple blessings and tithing.   The Lord commanded us to pay tithing “For the building of mine house” – that is, building temples.[11]    Our ability to build and operate temples depends on the tithes and offerings of the members of the Church. There is no other source.  Approval to build temples is dependent on the tithing faithfulness of members, particularly holders of the priesthood. There must be many stakes of the Church in an area before a temple will be built.  To establish a stake requires many active full tithe-paying Melchizedek Priesthood holders.  Finally, any member who enters a temple must be worthy and spiritually prepared and, importantly, they must be a full-tithe payer.

President Monson reminds us that: “Some degree of sacrifice has ever been associated with temple building and with temple attendance.”[12]

As we desire to have easier access to the blessings of the temple in Asia, we too will need to sacrifice by paying a full tithe.  We will also need to teach our children the principle of tithing and invite all members to faithfully observe this law.  As we do this, great and wonderful blessings will come.  Some blessings will be obvious, some will be subtle. 

Our sacrifice may not immediately result in a temple in our country but if we look with an eye of faith, we may see the “significant but subtle” blessings that Elder Bednar describes.  We may find we have greater gratitude for the possessions we have been given.  We may learn greater thriftiness.  We may be led to the right employment.  We may find motivation to seek after our ancestors and complete family histories.  We may find the strength to carry heavy burdens.   We may develop a greater ability to understand and follow the direction of the Spirit.  We may find the faith to clearly see the love of our Heavenly Father.  Even if we do not see blessings in our life time, perhaps our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be blessed because of our examples of faithfulness.    The young man who gave the $2,500 was my great-grandfather.  He probably did not see how his act of faith would inspire me and be an example to his posterity. 

As we obey the law of tithing, we will bring the blessings of the temple closer to us and closer to our posterity. Whether we are able to see all of the blessings or not, we can be certain that blessings, both obvious and subtle, will shower down upon us in abundance and great beauty – like the sparks of a beautiful firework.  ■

Caption: Elder Steven  L. Toronto


[1] See Matthew 7:7-11; Doctrine & Covenants 130:20-21.

[2] See Doctrine & Covenants 121:35; 3 Nephi 13:19-21.

[3] See Doctrine & Covenants 104:17.

[4] See Doctrine & Covenants 119:3-4.

[5] See Doctrine & Covenants 119:4.

[6] See Malachi 3:10.

[7] David A. Bednar, “The Windows of Heaven,” Ensign, Nov. 2013, 17-18; emphasis added.

[8] See Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo, A Place of Peace, A People of Promise (2002), 629.

[9] See Doctrine & Covenants 95:8.

[10] See Matthew 6:19-20.

[11] See Doctrine & Covenants 119:2.

[12] See Thomas S. Monson, “The Holy Temple - A Beacon to the World,” Ensign, May 2011, 92.