I’ve had a couple experiences lately where I was given an opportunity to study an aspect of the gospel I thought I could recite forwards and backwards. The first topic was modesty (click here for my modest blog post) and the other was tithing. With both topics I have been so incredibly humbled as I have studied to learn and receive such incredible and beautiful doctrines, principles and blessings behind the curtain of the culture of application.
*If you would like more information on what tithing is and how to pay it click here*
Just like my study of modesty, I realized quickly that it was easy to become so engrossed with the details of the applications of tithing that we can become distracted from looking at the deeper doctrines and principles behind it. As is true with all doctrines of the gospel, as we grow in understanding of the principles behind tithing our execution of the applications will become more pure and exact.
As we study the doctrine behind tithing we will find that it is so interlinked with temples. Tithing funds are used to build temples, being a full tithe payer is a requirement to receive a temple recommend, and most importantly, tithing is a preparation for making and keeping our temple covenants. Doctrine and Covenants 97:8 shows us the connection:
Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice – yea , every sacrifice which I the Lord shall command – they are accepted of me.
As shown in the scripture to keep our temple covenants, specifically the endowment, we need to:
- Honest and broken heart
- Contrite spirits (meaning we feel guilt for our sins)
And the big one:
- Willing to observe our covenants by sacrifice, every sacrifice the Lord commands of us.
Let’s be clear that we recognize that we are not talking about sacrifices of the shedding of blood. Those were no longer necessary after the death of Jesus Christ. Sacrifice, meaning to give up something valuable or precious with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal, is a law that is still in force. In Doctrine and Covenants 97:12 the Lord tells us what one of the sacrifices the Lord is asking of us:
Behold, this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I, the Lord, require at their hands
The Lord first tells us that to observe, or keep, our covenants we need to sacrifice, and then we are told that tithing is one of the sacrifices that is required of us. If you are an endowed member, you may recognize that although the word tithing is never specifically mentioned in the endowment ceremony, tithing is an application of two of the major parts of the endowment. The bottom line is truly that if we are not paying our tithing we are not properly preparing for, or keeping, temple covenants.
The Lord doesn’t really need our money. Like time, money is a mortal way of keeping track of things. However, what The Lord does need are disciples who have a greater desire for obedience than dislike of the discomfort, or even pain, of sacrifice.
Tithing, an application of sacrifice, is a preparatory commandment for the higher law of consecration. Consecration, spiritually, not physically as in the early days of the church, is something we should all be striving for as we increase our spiritual stamina. We are asked to pay 10% of our increase, but we are asked to give our whole soul unto Christ. If we want to have that mighty change of heart that the scriptures talk about, we cannot hold back. We have to give it all to Him, or we have to consecrate ourselves to Him. If we are unwilling to give 10% of ourselves to Him, we are in no position to trust him with our whole selves when the need arises. (Hint: You can’t wait until the last minute. “When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past” – Thomas S. Monson)
The more I recognize the link between my tithing and my temple covenants the more I want to be exact in my payment of tithing. If I hold back my tithing from the Lord I am holding back from keeping my covenants. Doctrine and Covenants 82:21 warns us of that very thing:
And the soul that sins against this covenant, and hardenth his heart against it, shall be dealt with according to the laws of my church, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption.
Being delivered over to the buffetings of Satan sounds horrible, but if I am keeping my covenants to the best of my ability I won’t have to every worry about that. Tithing is a small sacrifice for the blessing of such protection.
I am sad that it took a prompting from someone else to look closer at these two (modesty and tithing) topics before I looked past the pride of my “knowledge” on the topic to learn more about it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there is always more to learn about the gospel as long as I am willing to do the work required to learn it.