Why Does God Command Us to Pay Tithing?

The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is trust, and it is manifest in our decisions. We make choices based on trust, and the tangible evidence that we have done the right thing follows later. The prophet Moroni taught, “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).

Tithing is only discussed twice in the Book of Mormon:

  • Alma reminds the people of Ammonihah that Abraham paid tithes to the high priest Melchizedek. Alma defines tithing as “one-tenth part of all he possessed” (Alma 13:15).
  • Jesus Christ quotes the words of Malachi. Speaking on behalf of God, Malachi challenges the people to pay their tithes and offerings “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” (3 Nephi 24:10, Malachi 3:10).

President Gordon B. Hinckley related a story of a student in Brazil who faced a difficult decision: tuition or tithing. If she didn’t pay tuition in the next few days, she wouldn’t be allowed to take her exams, and all of the work she had done that semester would be lost.

As she thought about her decision, she remembered that she had promised to live the law of tithing when she was baptized. She decided to pay her tithing and trust that all would work out. She said that, as she paid her tithing, she felt “happy and peaceful within [herself] and with [her] Heavenly Father.”

The following day at work, she learned that her employer was going to fully fund the cost of her tuition and books from that time forward, and that she should receive a check the following day. After hearing this news, she said,

I knelt exactly where I was and thanked the Lord for His generosity. I … said to Heavenly Father that He didn’t have to bless me so much. I only needed the cost of one month’s installment, and the tithing I had paid on Sunday was very small compared to the amount I was receiving! During that prayer the words recorded in Malachi came to my mind: ‘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’ (Mal. 3:10). Up to that moment I had never felt the magnitude of the promise contained in that scripture and that this commandment was truly a witness of the love that God, our Heavenly Father, gives to His children here on earth (“We Walk by Faith,” General Conference, April 2002).

The blessings we receive from paying tithing aren’t always so visible or so dramatic, but the pattern is the same: We exercise our faith by obeying the commandment, and the blessings we receive end up being far greater than the amount we have given.

Today, I will be grateful for the law of tithing, which gives me an opportunity to exercise my faith in a tangible way and see the results of that faith in my life. I will remember God’s promise that, when we pay our tithing and offerings, He will give us far more than we have given Him.

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