By Heather O.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mormon doctrine, we pay tithing. That means that we pay our congregation, or ward, 10% of our household income. We also fast once a month, skipping at least 2 meals, and on that day, we give to the church the money we would have spent on food. We call it fast offerings.
When we pay these things, we fill out a little slip, which itemizes what the money is to go to–tithing, or fast offering. There are other things on this slip, too, other areas of the church we can donate to: missionary funds, humanitarian aid, temple construction, the perpetual education fund. All good things to contribute to.
And I almost hardly ever contribute to them.
That’s not to say we never have. When we’ve had unexpected funds come our way, we’ve given some to the PEF, knowing what a good program it is. When hurricanes have hit areas of the country, we’ve given to the humanitarian fund, and when the Boston temple was being constructed, we donated to the temple construction fund then. But when you are speaking on a regular basis, those little boxes usually remain blank.
Last year, our bishop asked us to double our fast offerings. He said it with powerful words, talking about helping the people in our area who are struggling with unemployment. And when the stake president came to our ward for ward conference, he mentioned specifically that they had handed out tens of thousands of dollars in aid to the unemployed this past year. He said that without the doubled fast offerings, it would have been impossible.
Last week, the scheduled speakers for our meeting ended a titch early, and the bishop got up, presumably to close the meeting. But instead, he said that he was impressed to call upon a ward member to bare his testimony of the law of tithing.
This ward member got up, and described how his life had been stable. Then, in the past year, he had gone through a number of changes–gotten married, bought a house, sold a house, left the military, looking for a new job, etc, etc. And he talked about tithing, how he not only pays his tithing and fast offerings, but for a decade has committed himself to paying something to every fund on the slip, even if it was at times just 10 cents. He then testified that when you pay your tithing, the Lord will bless you. When you pay your offerings and more, the Lord will pour out his blessings upon you, answering even the greatest desires of your heart.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this. First, I have to shamefacedly admit that it had never occurred to me to fill out every box on the slip, even a minimal amount. But I also am not sure I am comfortable with the idea that your blessings are tied to a monetary event. Pay more money, and you’ll get more blessings? Seems awfully close to equating God with a vending machine.
And yet, I’m not sure it’s about money. I think it is, as it always has been, about sacrifice. Are you willing to sacrifice your means to further the kingdom of God? Are you willing to consecrate your household to the extent that you can to serving your fellow Saints?
Or is just as simple as saying you get out as much as you put in?
And is it okay to do exercise your faith first as an experiment? I guess what I’m saying is that I’m going to try this, this whole filling out the entire tithing slip thing, and see what happens. Does that sort of defeat the purpose of sacrifice?
Please, share your thoughts. I want to know what you think about tithing, fast offering, other funds, and the blessings that come thereof.
And I hope everybody has a great Fast Sunday. (Or, if your ward is fasting after General Conference, well, think of us as your dig into your lovely lunch today.)
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