Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tithing and Temporal Blessing

Talk: Tithing and Temporal Blessings
June 14, 2009
Deparo Ward, Novaliches Philippines Stake

Would any of us intentionally reject an outpouring of blessings from the Lord? Maybe not. But sadly, this is what we do when we fail to pay our tithing. We say no to the very blessings we are seeking and praying to receive.

The Lord commanded us in Malachi 3:10, “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”.
Yes, to those who faithfully and honestly live the law of tithing, the Lord promises an abundance of blessings. Some of these blessings are temporal, just as tithes are temporal. The commandment to pay tithing requires then a temporal sacrifice, which ultimately yields great spiritual blessings. What temporal blessings come pouring into our lives when we pay tithing is what I was requested by the Bishopric to speak about this afternoon.

The law of tithing is simple according to Pres. James E. Faust, among other prophets who speak about Tithing: we pay one-tenth of our individual increase annually. Increase has been interpreted by the First Presidency to mean income. What amounts to 10 percent of our individual income is between each of us and the Lord. There are no legalistic rules. Pres. Faust shared what a convert in Korea once said: “With tithing, it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor. You pay 10 percent, and you don’t have to be ashamed if you haven’t earned very much. If you make lots of money, you pay 10 percent. If you make very little, you still pay 10 percent. Heavenly Father will love you for it. You can hold your head up proud.”

President Heber J. Grant put it in context the blessings thrown wide open through heavenly windows, when he said: “Prosperity comes to those who observe the law of tithing. When I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone. … What I count as real prosperity … is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same. That is prosperity of the truest kind.

When I joined the Church as a 12 –year old, my family was very poor. My father was a bus conductor while my mother was a sewer with both of them having meager incomes. They have a hard time supporting four of us in school. We had sometimes gone without necessities. We live in a very tiny room we were renting in Quezon City. It was the law of tithing that fortified my faith, and that faith sustained me and my family through the trials, tribulations, and sorrows in our life’s journey.

Tithing taught me to control my desires and passions for the things of this world. I learned to trust that what I have been given, through the blessings of the Lord and my own diligent efforts, is sufficient for our needs.

I was determined to obey the law of tithing when I became a member of the Church. Of course, then, paying tithing was not difficult for me because I had little money, which I received monthly from several scholarship grants. After I graduated and began working, it became a little harder. There were always so many things to buy and so little money to buy them with. But each year at tithing settlement, I could honestly tell my bishop that I had paid a full tithe.

After graduating from high school, I got a good job as a an English tutor for Koreans while studying college and was able to help my parents support the family. One day when I was upset because I hadn’t made enough money to cover all our expenses, I remembered the promise in Malachi. I prayed to Heavenly Father, reminding Him that I was paying a full tithe, even when I lacked money for food. Later that day my best friend Dearie came to visit, bringing food and help. Never in all the time I was supporting my family did the Lord fail me.

When my brother Mike wanted to serve a mission and I wanted to pursue law school, I became worried that maybe the combined salary of my parents and me without Mike’s income, would not be able to pay for his mission, household expenses and law school expenses. But we felt that he should go on his mission, so he quit his job and left for a mission. The following month, I got a teaching job in a public school, more and more Koreans came and so I have an increase in salary and I always meet the grade required to be entitled to a free tuition in law school. The whole time Bishop Mike was on his mission, my family never lacked for anything. I received a scholarship and was able to study law and became a lawyer. During this time our shoes lasted longer, our clothes didn’t wear out as quickly, and we didn’t get sick as often.

After my brother came home from mission, I became determined to go on mission myself. But going on a mission would mean losing the income I had that help pay most of our family expenses. So while preparing for my mission, my goal was always to pay tithing, and always did. Every month I took my tithing out first. Our family didn’t have everything, but we didn’t suffer either. With all my heart I know that the Lord will never forsake me and that He will continue to pour out blessings—not only temporal but also spiritual.

Some of you may feel that you cannot afford to pay tithing, but the Lord has promised that He would prepare a way for us to keep all of His commandments. To pay tithing takes a leap of faith in the beginning, but as Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” Brothers and sisters, we learn about tithing by paying it. Indeed, I know that it is possible to break out of poverty by having the faith to give back to the Lord part of what little we have.
The temporal and spiritual blessings of tithing are specifically tailored to us and our families, according to the Lord’s will. But to receive them, we must obey the law upon which they are predicated. Be assured my dear brothers and sisters that these blessings are poured out equally upon rich and poor alike. As the hymn says, it is “sacrifice [that] brings forth the blessings of heaven,” not the sum of our contributions. Members who freely give a full 10 percent of their annual income receive all of the promised blessings of tithing, whether the amount is a widow’s mite or a king’s ransom.

Members of the Church who do not tithe do not lose their membership; they only lose blessings. Through Malachi the Lord asks: “Will a man rob God? … But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” If we will trust in the Lord, He will open the windows of heaven to us as we give back to Him the one-tenth He asks of us. His promise is sure: “I will … pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Although tithing carries with it both temporal and spiritual blessings, the only absolute promise to the faithful is “ye shall have the riches of eternity.”

My beloved brothers and sisters, the eternal blessings of tithing are real. I have experienced them in my life and in the life of my family. The test of our faith is whether we will live the law of tithing by our obedience and sacrifice. For, in the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”

Again, in Doctrine and Covenants, “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. The Lord wants to bless ALL us and awaits our obedience to the law of Tithing so He can.

If any of you has doubted the blessings of tithing, I encourage you to accept the Lord’s invitation to “prove [Him] now herewith.” Pay your tithing. Unlock the windows of heaven. You will be abundantly blessed for your obedience and faithfulness to the Lord’s laws and commandments, just like what he did to me and my family.

This I know to be true and live this challenge so humbly in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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