Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. -Sun Tzu
Question #90196 posted on 09/05/2017 10:08 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I don't really believe in tithing. I pay it as soon as I get a paycheck, but I don't really see much "blessing" in my life aside from getting to go to the temple (because it's one of the questions). But honestly, I could see myself holding back from going to the temple for a few months until I found another job if it meant I had the extra money. You see, I recently lost one of my jobs, making things extra tight if not impossible, and I haven't been able to find a replacement for that job in 3 months. So I'm not really sure what this business about blessings even is.

Every time there is a lesson about tithing there is some story about getting some sort of windfall or opportunity to make up the difference. That's ridiculous and clearly isn't happening here. So, why should I care about tithing if it's such a problem in my already spartan lifestyle?

-My Name Here

A:

Dear reader,

I actually think you do believe in tithing. Why else would you keep paying it as soon as you get a paycheck? It's okay to have doubts, but I also think it is important to recognize belief.

I think you would find this article helpful. Among other things, it states that some of the blessings are: cultivating a trust that through individual, diligent efforts, and with the Lord’s blessings, we will have temporal and spiritual blessings sufficient to our needs, preventing greed, strengthened faith (which, side comment, stronger faith usually comes after some testing), softer heart, protection, increase in charity, have a greater confidence in asking God for what we and our families need.

As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, John Taylor said, "A man who has not paid his tithing is unfit to be baptized for the dead. ... If a man has not faith enough to attend to these little things, he has not faith enough to save himself and his friends."

Also, are you asking God for the blessings that you need, or are you just hoping that they will come? I have recognized in my life that sometimes I need to ask for blessings to attend my faithful obedience. The scriptures are full of the promise that if we ask aright, he will answer.

As I shared in Board Question #85961, Vaughn J. Featherstone's talk is wonderful. Here's a snippet from his inspiring words (I'll add bold font for emphasis):

I said, “You know, I really don’t think you want to be excommunicated. You just want God to know that you’re really serious. You want to let him know that you just can’t take any more, that you’ve had your limit of pressure.”

She replied, “Yes, that’s part of it.”

Then I said, “But you know, you need to develop a Job-like attitude. Job was a great soul, and he said, ‘Though he [God] slay me, yet will I trust in him’ (Job 13:15). If we have that kind of attitude it doesn’t matter what we go through, our reward is certain in the next life. You’ve put a time limit on the Lord. You’ve been married five years. What if in five years and six months you get pregnant, and then you have this child? What if a short time later your health comes? These things haven’t happened, so you expect them now. What if it isn’t for five years and nine months? It might be seven years, or fifteen years, or maybe not in this life. But I promise you, as surely as God is in heaven, that those promises made by righteous priesthood bearers will take place in your life. Now you don’t want to be excommunicated, do you?” I was teary-eyed.

She answered, “No, I really don’t.” The tears came a little faster then, and I wanted to say, “Would you like me to give you a blessing?” but I dared not do it.

She asked, “Bishop Featherstone, before I leave, would you please give me a blessing?” And so I gave her a blessing, and she left. I closed the door, went over and sat at the desk, and cried. Everything had hinged on that one interview, and God had been there. Why, at that very instant God had been answering her prayer, but she didn’t even know it. He would continue to do so all through her life. You see, the God I worship has a thousand times more compassion than I have. If in my limited way I could see all that she had gone through and feel all that she had suffered enough, God would know much more than I ever could what suffering she should go through, the depth of it, and then at the right time he would not withhold those blessings from her. I hope you feel about that story the way I am trying to convey it to you. I think sometimes you feel as if God had thrown out the lifebuoy and then pulled it away from you. That isn’t so. You must simply trust in him as Job did. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

I understand that you aren't talking about excommunication at all, but I still think this story can apply to you. I think you have found yourself at a place where you just can't take any more. You have heard about all of the blessings that come from tithing and in your timetable, they aren't coming. However, God is not working on our time schedule, rather He knows perfectly when to bless and when to wait. In fact, He may be blessing you without you realizing it. Anyways, I think you need to have a real, honest conversation with God. Tell Him that you want to keep believing in the law of tithing and that you have done your best to remain faithful to His commandments. Tell Him that you aren't seeing the blessings and that you have doubts about the blessings of tithing. Then ask Him to bless you with the blessings you need financially as you continue to prove faithful in keeping His commandments.

I hope you will continue to pay your tithing. I know blessings come because they have come in my life and in the lives of those I know. Sometimes it can take a while. For example, one convert from my mission was unemployed for about a year before she found another job. When she had income, she paid tithing. She couldn't see in that moment that the Lord was guiding her to a better job, in a better place. I don't know what the specific blessings will be for you because they will be different than my blessings, but I believe they will come.

-Sunday Night Banter

A:

Dear you,

I've never noticed paying tithing to have any significant impact on my actual budget; I've never gotten an unexpected windfall or anything like that. Nor do I really think the Church needs 10% of my measly income. But in my past experiences of paying and not paying tithing, I've noticed that paying it gives me a healthier relationship with money, which for me is a significant blessing.

I'm a very frugal person. I work hard to support myself, but I can be somewhat miserly with my earnings. On occasion my roommate will buy me a muffin for breakfast, and it makes me a bit uncomfortable because I'm not the type to reciprocate such a favor, even a $2.50 favor. I have a strict budget that accounts for every dollar, and it takes a lot of willpower for me to spend money on things like clothes for myself or birthday presents. But I've noticed that when I pay tithing, I'm a bit less obsessive about my budget. It brings me comfort to know that I'm not counting on every dollar to end up in my savings account, but to know that the pittance I'm able to give can benefit the lives of countless other people. I feel like a better person, and in all likelihood I am a better person because of tithing, even if I don't get any unexpected checks in the mail.

That may not seem like a very tangible blessing, especially when you're having some financial struggles, but it has definitely been a great blessing for me.

Love,

Luciana

A:

Dear you,

I think it may be helpful to view tithing within the larger framework of the Gospel if looking at the single-principle-covenant isn't helping you right now.

Do you believe that God blesses obedience to principles and to covenants? If yes, do you believe that God has asked you to pay tithing? If you're not sure about tithing of itself, do you believe that the Prophets who teach this principle are inspired and that they teach what God wants of us?

You can believe that it's the right thing for you to pay tithing and that at least in the long run it will contribute to your spiritual growth and eternal happiness even if the immediate effects of paying tithing aren't clear to you. If your testimony on tithing isn't feeling particularly strong right now, focusing on other reasons to obey can encourage you and help you have faith to take action will allow you to continue to obey so that your testimony specific to tithing can continue to increase.

Love,

~Anne, Certainly

A:

Dear yosef,

First, I'm sorry for how life is going lately. It sounds really stressful, and financial difficulties are especially awful. I hope things turn up soon. 

I've been thinking a lot lately on what testimonies are built on, and I think it's important to have a more solid foundation than miracles. They happen, and if helps someone's faith to learn of them then I'm not against them, but I think there's a danger in only seeing God as an interventionist. 

This relates back to tithing in the sense that there's more to it than last-minute blessings swooping in. Sure, those happen and are important, but there's a lot more. There's the need to become financially aware so that we have 10% to give. There's the fact that we are able to support causes and work we believe in with our money. There's the promise the Lord will provide for his saints when things are done in his way. (That scripture in particular got me through a recent bout of unemployment and mild anxiety over finances.)

There's more that I don't know how to explain, but I highly recommend reading The Soul of Money. It's got a lot of wonderful, true principles that helped me understand my relationship with money and a lot of the world. If you're in Provo, email me and you can borrow my copy. 

Take care,

-Auto Surf

A:

Dear you,

I really feel this question. As I'm sinking into debt and my bank account seems to be draining, it's getting more and more painful for me to pay my tithing. Compounding the problem, I tend to forget to pay it after every paycheck, meaning that when I do pay it, it's a significant chunk of my resources. 

As I'm writing this, I actually just finally remembered to pay my tithing for the first time since April, and made the payment less than five minutes ago. And seeing the money I would have used for food and rent--I'm not big on spending money on non-necessities--go away is hard. But I paid it anyways, and I plan on continuing to do so.

Quite frankly, I don't feel like I have a testimony of tithing. I've heard stories of how it's blessed other people's lives, but I'm still lacking the internal conviction that paying it will improve the quality of my life. So, what keeps me paying it isn't a testimony of tithing itself. It's a testimony of the gospel as a whole. I don't understand why I have to make meager payments to an organization that clearly doesn't need financial aid on my part. But what I do know is that tithing is important enough that a prophet of God made it a requirement to hold a temple recommend. That implies that while I don't clearly see reasons for tithing, those reasons exist regardless, and considering they're God's reasons, I'm willing to trust that they're the best ones.

I hope that I'll receive a testimony of tithing, because it would make paying it a heck of a lot easier. However, until that time, I'll continue to do my best to live up to and trust in all of God's commandments.

-Writer

P.S. Further reflection on this matter leads me to believe it has to do with the law of sacrifice, and certain personal developments that would be impossible without sacrifice, even if it seems as though we're giving up all that is most dear to us (and this isn't just referring to money anymore).