Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Tithing: A Genuinely Divine Principle

The biblical concept of tithing, preached in both the Old Testament and New (Christ endorses it in Matthew 23:23), is one of many authentic elements of the Gospel that were restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Latter-day Saints who live that "difficult" principle often find that life is easier with it because of the blessings that it brings. Sometimes the blessings come naturally because of self-control and discipline over one's finances, but many people experience how the blessings of Heaven can be poured out when we show faith. It's as if our loving and kind Father in Heaven is anxious to bless us when we first show faith in Him.

I believe that my own father owes his life to blessings from God that may have been poured out through the faith of his tithe-paying mother. My father served in the Korean war, where many people on both sides died. His mother was terribly worried and went to her bishop to discuss it. The bishop felt impressed to tell his mother that God would protect her son, if she would exercise faith to pay tithing. She had very little, not enough to be of any real help to the Church, but like the story of the widow's mite, the Lord is interested in our faith, not our portfolios. She faithfully paid her tithing, while my father had one experience after another that convinced him in the reality of God's power. He had many experiences where he would have been killed had he not responded to a puzzling impression to change his location, and he had other experiences where he simply should have been shot or blown to bits but was spared. In one case, huddling in a fox hole, he heard a shell coming and knew it was for him. He covered his head, felt a thud behind him, and waited for the explosion - but it never came. Inches from his back was a little hole in his fox hole with smoke coming out of it from the rare dud that the enemy had wasted on him. Only later did my father learn of the promise that his Bishop had made to his faithful mother.

During my tenure as a bishop, I saw other miracles come into the lives of members who paid tithing with faith, especially when it seemed difficult. My testimony of the principle was cemented by watching how the lives of new converts and long-time members were blessed when they followed this simple principle.

I think my favorite story of the blessings of tithing is John R. Whiting, "Spencer Kimball and the Service Station Guy" in Sunstone, June 1989, pp. 10-15. I don't think it's available online. I'll summarize it later....

Anyway, if your testimony is floundering, remember that faith precedes the miracle. Pay your tithing, serve diligently as a home or visiting teacher, turn to the Lord in prayer to bless the lives of others, and you'll soon see just how real and wonderful the Gospel is. And don't forget to study the scriptures regularly, growing from the nourishment and guidance they provide.

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