Several years ago, I gathered with religious leaders from other faiths to participate in an annual interfaith event. It was the first time the event had been held in a chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of the traditions at this event was the passing of contribution plates to gather money for the poor. Prior to the start of the meeting, one of the religious leaders asked me if I had the contribution plates ready for use. I told him that we did not have any contribution plates. He was quiet for a moment and then said, “I wouldn’t have any contribution plates either if my members paid their tithing like the members of your church do.” Fortunately, one of the other religious leaders had some contribution plates and the offering for the poor was gathered.
As members of the Church, we are blessed to know about both the divine origin and promised blessings of the law of tithing. “The law of tithing is the law of revenue for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Without it, it would be impossible to carry on the purposes of the Lord.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. 1938, at p. 226) The passing of contribution plates is not necessary in the Church because of our willingness to obey the law of tithing, which is God’s revealed plan to accomplish His work on the earth. Each member’s payment of a full tithe, whether small or large, strengthens the Church and pleases the Lord.
Tithing is a commandment that has always been given to God’s faithful followers since the creation of the earth. It is significant that when Christ visited the people of the Book of Mormon he asked them to “[b]ring forth the record which ye have kept” because there were “other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not.” (3 Nephi 23:6-7) He then commanded them to “write the words which the Father had given unto [the Old Testament prophet] Malachi,” which included in part the following:
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse . . . and prove me now herewith . . . 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 all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts.
(3 Nephi 24:1, 10, 12) In these latter days, the Lord also has emphasized the importance of the law of tithing. “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever.” (D&C 119:3-4) President Spencer W. Kimball taught that “[t]ithing is a law of God and is required of His followers. To fail to meet this obligation is to fail in a very weighty matter.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Law of Tithing,” Ensign, November 1980)
One of the most compelling reasons to pay a full tithe is to invite God to prove Himself, to experience how He will “open the windows of heaven” on our behalf and “pour [us] out a blessing” that will exceed our capacity to receive. That is a promised blessing worth claiming from a loving Heavenly Father who also happens to be the creator and ruler of all things.
An interesting aspect of the law of tithing is that the time when we should be most faithful in paying our tithes is when we have the least capacity to do so. That is why in 1998, when President Gordon B. Hinckley visited the members of the Church who had been devastated by a hurricane in Central America, he invited them to be faithful in paying their tithes even though they had lost almost all their worldly possessions. He knew that “the most important assistance comes from God” and he “wanted to help them unlock the windows of heaven as promised by the Lord.” (Lynn G. Robbins, Tithing – a Commandment Even for the Destitute” April 2005 General Conference)
Another interesting blessing of the law of tithing is that “when citizens of a nation are faithful in the payment of tithes, they summon the blessings of heaven upon their entire nation.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Tithing” April 1994 General Conference) Our faithful payment of tithes will result in blessings not only for ourselves, but also for the entirety of the Philippines. It is sobering to recognize that the failure to pay our tithes can result in the condemnation of not only ourselves, but also “this whole nation.” (Malachi 3:9)
As members of the Church, we must exercise our faith and pay our tithes, returning to God only a small portion of all that with which He blesses us. He in turn will pour out additional material and more importantly spiritual blessings upon us. Thus, we remain wonderfully in His debt until that day when “all that [our] Father hath shall be given unto [us]. (D&C 84:38)