Tithing, as a gospel principle, is a fairly simple concept to understand. You set aside 10% of your income and donate it to the church. I know many times in my life, I’ve left it like that. Treating tithing like another bill to pay, getting behind and feeling anxious and guilty when I knew I was amassing large tithing amounts.
This summer, I was finishing up grad school, getting ready to get married and move, and changing jobs. I was a girl on a mission, armed with a budget and a massive to do list.
Sure, I kept up with scripture study and prayer – you can pray in your car! But, I’ll admit that my tithing was piling up and every time I thought about the amount I owed, I cringed. That money could go towards our security deposit, wedding invitations, or credit card bills. So I willfully neglected tithing, penciling in the ever growing amount every Sunday in my planner and every Sunday, flipping the page superquick to avoid thinking about it too much.
As I read scriptures and conference talks, that back of the mind reminder to pay my ever increasing tithing intensified. That’s how it usually happens right? The promptings you need are there – even if you are trying wholeheartedly to ignore because they’re not fun or exciting, they require work and obedience. I read countless talks about tithing. I listened to friends talk about the new online tithing feature that was rolling out. I was even asked to give a talk about tithing!
Yet, my stubbornness prevailed until I was so overwhelmed with bridezilla stress I couldn’t even handle the things that were usually second nature to me – like my budget. Only then was I genuinely willing to be humbled, repentant and obedient. God is patient, even though it probably makes him roll his eyes a bit at how silly we can be.
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. (Malachi 3:10)
I knew I needed those blessings. I knew that the only way to get them was to be forthright and honest and quick with paying tithing. In my case, delaying paying my tithing was choosing to ignore the Spirit. I had received repeated promptings and had ignored them. As a result, I felt daily stress about my finances and worried that I just couldn’t afford it all.
So, all in one Sunday I made a commitment. I paid all the tithing I owed and promised from then on to pay my tithing as soon as I got paid (it’s worth noting there is no required timeframe for when to pay your tithing, but this is what I know to be true for me – I won’t spend money that’s not there!). And the Lord, as always, kept his promise. Bills were paid, savings was contributed to, and our wedding expenses were covered. Not because I made more money, but because I prioritized my income the way we we’re taught to.
As Elder Randall K. Bennett said,
“Whenever we willingly act with faith in Jesus Christ and take another step, especially an uncomfortable step requiring change or repentance, we are blessed with strength. I testify that the Lord will guide us to—and through —our next steps. He will more than match our efforts with His power if we are willing to keep trying, repenting, and moving forward with faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Yes, I was still terrified to think about all our wedding and moving expenses, but I stopped thinking just about myself and what I could do with the money and started trusting in Heavenly Father and being grateful for all the amazing things the Church does with just 10% of our incomes. Like the object lesson about putting big rocks in a jar first and adding the sand and water and other less important things next – when I started sharing what I’d been blessed with first instead of waiting around to see what was leftover of my income at the end of the month, I had money to spare.
I share this story not so you’ll feel bad that I put myself in such a position or feel better because you’ve never struggled with tithing (lucky girl!), but as an example of what happens when we willfully ignore the principles we know to be true in favor of what is seemingly easier at the time or getting caught up in what we think we need. Also as an example of the mercy of Heavenly Father – even when we get off track about the very basics of the gospel, he reminds us how to get back on track. He longs to help us when we struggle and he weeps when we weep.
As we are reminded by President Thomas S. Monson,
“All of us can afford to pay tithing. In reality none of us can afford not to pay tithing. The Lord will strengthen our resolve. He will open a way to comply.”
Tithing is more than the 10% of your income you donate. Tithing is our opportunity to act on faith to share what we are blessed with and to trust that it will go where it is needed most. Unselfishly donating what we could certainly put towards savings or bills testifies of our commitment to the faith we have in Heavenly Father and his Prophet and leaders here on earth.
While it seems easy and mindless to fill out a tithing slip or pay your tithe online, I’d like to challenge you to strengthen your testimony of tithing and make a note of the blessings you receive from the tithe you faithfully pay. I promise there will be so many. Tithing may not seem like the most exciting part of your budget, but it’s certainly the most important.