God’s purpose in giving us commandments is to bless us. He wants to give us eternal life, the greatest of all His gifts (see D&C 14:7). To receive the gift of living with Him forever in families in the celestial kingdom, we must be able to live the laws of that kingdom (see D&C 88:22).
He has given us commandments in this life to help us develop that capacity. The law of tithing is one of those preparatory commandments.
Tithing has a special purpose as a preparatory law. Early in this dispensation, the Lord commanded certain members of the Church to live the higher law of consecration—a law received by covenant. When this covenant was not kept, great tribulations came upon the Saints. The law of consecration was then withdrawn. In its place the Lord revealed the law of tithing for the whole Church.
On July 8, 1838, He declared: “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.
“… Those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever.”
The law of tithing prepares us to live the higher law of consecration—to dedicate and give all our time, talents, and resources to the work of the Lord. Until the day when we are required to live this higher law, we are commanded to live the law of the tithe, which is to freely give one-tenth of our income annually.
There are at least three ways that paying a full tithe in this life prepares us to feel what we need to feel to receive the gift of eternal life.
First, when we pay our tithes to the Church, our Heavenly Father pours out blessings upon us. Anyone who has consistently paid a full tithe knows that is true.
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. But like the outward physical ordinances of baptism and the sacrament, the commandment to pay tithing requires temporal sacrifice, which ultimately yields great spiritual blessings.
I know of a couple who lived thousands of miles from the nearest temple. Although they earned little, they faithfully paid their tithing and saved all that they could to journey to the house of the Lord. After a year, the husband’s brother—not a member of the Church—unexpectedly came forward and offered them two airplane tickets. This temporal blessing made possible the spiritual blessings of their temple endowments and sealing. An additional spiritual blessing came later as the brother, touched by the couple’s humble faithfulness, joined the Church.
Tithing develops and tests our faith. By sacrificing to the Lord what we may think we need or want for ourselves, we learn to rely on Him. Our faith in Him makes it possible to keep temple covenants and receive eternal temple blessings. Tithing is a principle of faith more than a principle of finances.
Video Clip - Elijah and the widow of Zarapheth
Second, all of us who have paid a consistent full tithe feel greater confidence in asking God for what we and our families need. He has promised blessings even greater than we can receive when we have been faithful to our covenant to pay our tithes (see Malachi 3:10).
In the case of tithing, the Lord has said, “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.”
Would any of us intentionally reject an outpouring of blessings from the Lord? 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. If you are one who 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.
Third, those who pay tithing feel an increase in their love of God and of all God’s children. That increase of love comes from understanding how the Father uses the tithes we offer to bless people in this world and for eternity.
Through His authorized servants, He expends the tithes with great care. The tithe payer helps the Lord build temples, where families can be sealed forever. The tithe payer helps Him send the gospel to people everywhere. The tithe payer helps Him relieve hunger and suffering in His own way through His servants. Any of those servants can tell you how love increased because tithing was used to bless people. And so can the faithful tithe payer.
The Lord desires that all His children have the blessings of . Too often we as parents do not teach and encourage our children to live this law because their contribution only amounts to a few cents. But without a testimony of , they are vulnerable. In their teenage years, they become attracted to clothes, entertainment, and expensive possessions and risk losing the special protection that provides.
Fathers and mothers, as you prepare for settlement I encourage you to gather your little ones around you and help them count their pennies. Help your young men and young women consult their records and take inventory of their annual increase. What a marvelous opportunity this is to plant the seed of faith in the hearts of your children. You will start them on a path that leads to the temple. The generations of your ancestors before you and your posterity after you will rise up and call you blessed, for you will have prepared your children to perform saving ordinances on their behalf. It is no coincidence, my brothers and sisters, that under the direction of God’s living prophet on the earth today, President Gordon B. Hinckley, temples are spreading over the earth. Keeping the commandments, which includes paying our , will qualify us to enter those temples, be sealed to our families, and receive eternal blessings.
Elder Henry B. Eyring, The Blessings of Tithing, Ensign June 2011
Elder Robert D. Hales, Tithing: A Test of Faith with Eternal Blessings, October 2002 General Conference