Posted by: 2thdocbob | 20 August 2017

The Blessings of Tithing

I had the blessing of speaking to the Rancho San Bernardino Ward today. This is the Spanish-speaking ward in our stake. We have many long-time friends in this ward, and we love to see them.

When I began working in a particular dental office many years ago, the receptionist caught me one day and asked: “So you’re a Mormon?” to which I responded affirmatively. Her follow-up question surprised me: “So is it true that you give a tenth of your paycheck to your church?” I was happy to answer yes, and then tell her that it was because of my faith in God and his promises, that I considered it a blessing and not a burden. From then on, I sensed a deep respect from her, and from the other staff members in that office.

This is shorter than my other talks, because I had to allow time for the translator to speak. I appreciate good translators.

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Good morning, brothers and sisters. I am happy to be here among friends who have always felt like family to me. It is a blessing to be here and to worship with you today.

I bring you greetings from President Garvin and his counselors. They love you and pray for you. They are grateful for your kind acts of service, and for your faithfulness.

I pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us as I speak so that you and I will be blessed by the things I say and by things we feel here in sacrament meeting.

Today, I would like to invite all of you who do not pay tithing to gain a testimony of the law of tithing. And I would like to invite all of you who do pay your tithing to strengthen your testimonies of this important law. I will tell you how to gain that testimony and how to help your children and grandchildren receive a testimony of tithing, too.

Whenever Heavenly Father wants to bless His children, he gives them commandments. That may sound strange. But all commandments from God have blessings attached. Each blessing is a promise to us, as a gift for our faith and our obedience.

When we obey each commandment, we strengthen our covenant relationship with God, and when we do this, our love for our Heavenly Father increases.

In Heavenly Father’s Plan for our eternal salvation and happiness, He expects us to make sacrifices. This has been true since the days of Adam and Eve. In our day, we covenant in the temple to sacrifice everything we have to help the work of the Lord move forward.

Right now, the Lord doesn’t ask for everything. We give our time as we serve in church callings and serve each other. That is a sacrifice. We share our talents and skills with those around us. We often think of people who can play musical instruments or who can sing and dance as people with talent. Drawing and painting are other talents. Another talent is teaching the gospel. You may be thinking “I don’t have any talents like that; maybe I am not talented; I have nothing to give.”

But we all have talents. Some of you can cook amazing meals. Isn’t that a talent? Some of you can make people happy with a smile or an “abrazo.” That is a wonderful talent. Heavenly Father expects us to use these talents to bless others. When the Relief Society President calls and asks you to bring food to a sister who is sick, that can be a sacrifice. But we feel good when we serve, and Heavenly Father is happy when we serve his children.

One of the most challenging commandments is the law of tithing. Please note that it is not a suggestion; it is a law from God. But like all laws from God, if we obey, we will receive great blessings. Each commandment has very specific blessings connected to it.

What are those blessings? How will we be blessed?

Let’s look at the law and the promised blessings.

The law of tithing is very simple: it is that we pay 10 percent of our income to the Lord. Please note that the tithe is not just any freewill offering, and it is not a 20th or some other fraction of our income.

Tithing must be done in the Lord’s way, or it is not tithing. If I do it my own way, I will not obtain the promised blessings.

Under the law of tithing, we are all treated equally by the Lord. The commandment is the same for all of us, and the blessings are the same, if we pay tithing.

The prophet Malachi asked the question:

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. …

“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.

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:8, 10-11).

What is Malachi saying to us? Let’s look at the important points.

First, why does he say that we are robbing God when we don’t pay our tithes and offerings? Because everything we have is a gift from God. Since he has given us everything, we can show our thanks by giving a little bit back to him.

Second, God invites us to test him. When he invites us to prove him, he is telling us “try it and see.” Do we have enough faith to do that? I testify that he keeps his promises.

Third, have you ever thought about the first part of the promise to us? The Lord has promised to “open the windows of heaven.” I invite each of you to ponder what that means to you. That will motivate you to act in faith.

Fourth, the Lord promises to pour out so many blessings that we will not have room to receive them. When we refuse to pay tithing, we are refusing those promised blessings. I will say more about that in a minute.

Finally, the promises in the last verse to rebuke the devourer for our sakes, and that our crops will be healthy and productive. That image meant a great deal to people who relied on farms and gardens. But what does it mean to us?

I believe that rebuking the devourer means that things we rely on will last longer. Perhaps our clothing will not wear out so quickly. Maybe we will not need to replace things so soon. Sometimes it means that we stay healthy enough to work. We have to look a little closer to recognize these blessings. But please remember that when things do wear out, or when we struggle with illness and other challenges, it does not mean that we are not faithful. Sometimes we have trouble paying all the bills. That does not mean we are unfaithful. Throughout our lives, the Lord will also give us tests and trials to see if we will continue to follow him.

The blessing of healthy crops was, and is, a blessing of prosperity. We are promised that if we pay our tithing, we will prosper.

President Hinckley spoke of this when he told the Filipino saints: “The Lord will keep His ancient promise in [your] behalf, and [you] will have rice in [your] bowls and clothing on [your] backs and shelter over [your] heads.”

He told another group of members: “Some of you have money problems. I know that. There is never enough money in your homes. I know that. You are struggling to get along. What is the cure? The only thing I know of is payment of tithing. Now, that doesn’t mean that you will have a Cadillac and a mansion. But it was God who made the promise that He would open the windows of heaven and pour down blessings upon those who walked honestly with Him in the payment of their tithes and offerings, and He has the capacity to keep His promise. It is my testimony that He does keep that promise”

It is important to remember that prosperity is not just about money and possessions. Prosperity is also about our spiritual health: about having firm testimonies of the Savior and of his gospel, and the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to follow Christ. To have that strength is to prosper.

Most important is that we cannot enjoy the blessings of the temple unless we pay tithing. If I do not pay a full tithe, I will not lose my membership in the Church, but I will lose the blessings that Heavenly Father has promised me. And that includes the promise of an eternal family.

Sister Stevenson and I have been married almost 35 years. During that time we have always paid a full tithe. At times we struggled, but when we look back on those 35 years, we realize that we have always had a place to live; we certainly have not starved; I have always had a job, and I almost never take sick days. This is how we have been blessed by paying tithing. I do not say this to boast, but to express gratitude to Heavenly Father.

We also have the blessing to pay fast offerings every month. These consecrated funds bless members in our own wards and stake. Bishop De La Roca is blessed with the inspiration to use these sacred funds wisely. In addition to the blessings of paying tithing, we have been promised blessings of increased love and spirituality when we pay fast offerings.

We also have the opportunity to contribute to the missionary fund, to temple building, to helping with disasters, and to spreading the Book of Mormon. Each of these brings wonderful blessings as well. We must use wisdom in our contributions, but we know that what we give the Lord will be used appropriately.

The Lord doesn’t expect us to give everything we have, but he does expect us to do what we can.

Let me return to my invitation at the beginning of my talk. How can we receive a testimony of the law of tithing?

We receive it the same way we receive a testimony of any of God’s commandments: by keeping the commandment. We will receive a witness by paying tithing; by accepting the Lord’s promise and testing it.

In answering a challenge from the Pharisees, Jesus said,

“My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16,17).

If we obey the law of tithing, we will gain a testimony of it.

Heavenly Father is not weak like we are. He keeps His promises.

At this point, I shared my testimony in Spanish, because I love my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters. I believe that this helps them to feel that. If there are any accent marks missing, please forgive me.

Hermanos y hermanas, yo testifico que la ley del diezmo es de Díos. Cuando pagamos el diezmo, recibimos bendiciones de nuestro Padre Celestial. Yo sé que es un principio verdadero. No pagamos el diezmo porque temenos dinero; pagamos porque tienen fé. Cuando guardamos los mandamientos, seremos bendecidos.

Yo testifico que Díos vive. Él nos ama. Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador y redentor.

Hermanos y hermanas, les amo a ustedes. Doy gracias por la oportunidad de visitar con ustedes.

En el nombre sagrado de Jesucristo, amen.

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