Sunday, November 27, 2011

'A Protective Shield from Economic Distress'

“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”

This is a verse from the book of Malachi in the Holy Bible.

 To 'tithe' means to give a tenth part of something as a voluntary contribution. We learn in the bible, that tithing was fundamental to the Law of Moses in ancient times. Today in my church, it is fundamental as well. If you've ever seen an LDS temple or church building, it was constructed, operated and paid for by tithing funds. There are 166 temples either operating, under construction or that have been announced. There are other ways tithing funds are used as well. We are commanded to give ten percent of our increase to the Lord through His church.  That is ten percent across the board; no matter if you make millions or live in poverty, the commandment is the same. This is one commandment we can live perfectly.

It might be easy to look at our annual salaries and think of hundreds of other things to spend 10% of our income on.  I'm sure if I thought about it long enough, I could come up with a nice list.  Surely, in these challenging economic times, one might consider tithing as a frivolous expenditure. But lucky for us and our marriage, we agree that tithing is our first financial priority. We cannot pick and choose when it is convenient to pay tithing.  It is never convenient.  Like most newlyweds, when we were first married, we had some years when we could have used that extra 10% income, but we never questioned where that money belonged. We have been blessed because of it. The windows of heaven have definitely poured down upon us--not with wealth, but with whatever is needed.  Brandon's business depends entirely on contract work. There is no bi-monthly paycheck coming in. No annual salary. There is no way of knowing what next year's income will be.  There is never certainty when it comes to finances for anyone, but certainly not us.  On days like today, Brandon wrote out the tithing check with no foreseeable work beyond next week! But we pay in faith, believing that work will come.  And it does. I read a quote today that said "paying tithing is a protective shield from economic distress." (Heber J. Grant) This has been true for us.

A couple of years ago we hired a new accountant.  He looked over our finances and then gave us some advice on how to better invest and manage our money.  One of his suggestions was to pay less tithing. He said we were "overpaying." He told us that because my husband's business had expenses we deducted from our taxable income, we should also deduct that amount from the total we paid tithing on.  When we first heard this we were excited to learn about the extra money we would have each year.  However, my good husband came to me a day or two later and told me he felt we needed to continue to pay tithing the same way we had been paying it.  As soon as he said it, and probably before (but I'm not as good as him), I knew he was right.  To each his own, but for us, we had to do what felt right for us.

I recently heard someone say that it is a lot to ask from people who can't afford to pay tithing.  It is difficult for me not to ask, how can we afford not to?

It is a matter of faith. 

When I drive past a beautiful temple, initially, I do not always think of the grandeur and beauty that emanates from the building.  Instead, I tend to think of the sacrifice of the millions of people who contributed their offerings.  I think of those members who live in India, near my brother's family, who have so little, yet pay in faith with very little likelihood that they will ever set foot in a temple.  I think of those who deserve better living conditions and choose faith and obedience over wealth and prosperity. I think of the sacrifice of my Grandma Cardall who made a meager income after her husband abandoned her to raise five young children on her own. I think of my daughter who counted her coins this morning  so she could also contribute. Then she asked me, "can I pay more or will they only let me pay 10%?"

In short, tithing is a blessing. I believe all I have is from God.  All of it.  He can give at any time, and He can take away at any time.  So really, we must be wise with the other 90% of income we receive each year as well. Since I am a stay at home mom, I can tithe in other ways.  My time. My talents. I can teach my children to do the same.  Tithing has also taught me to not put so much emphasis on accumulating money. I am a direct descendant of the third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John Taylor.  A friend of his, also a leader in the church, B.H. Roberts, said that President Taylor's motto was—’Money is of little importance where truth is concerned.’

I hope to live my life the same way.

Because I am a Mormon, I believe in tithing.

Hong Kong LDS Temple

Draper, UT LDS Temple

Accra, Ghana LDS Temple

Laie, Hawaii LDS Temple

Nauvoo, Illinois LDS Temple