Friday, December 26, 2014

# 55: Tithing

You should stay LDS so you can keep paying tithing.

Some of you might be thinking, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, tithing sounds like a reason for me to leave the church, not to stay.”

Well, let me tell you a few stories that I believe in.

First story: I’ve always been a full tithe payer, even during and after my faith crisis/change-of-testimony/whatever-you-wanna-call-it.  And I’ve always been financially stable.  Is there a connection between these two things?  Uh… I don’t know.  Maybe.  Ha!  I suppose I don’t have a faith-promoting story about tithing from my own experience, but I believe the stories I’ve heard from other people.

Second story: My parents have always paid a full tithing.  One time, a long time ago, they were having trouble financially.  They had to choose between paying rent and paying tithing.  They paid tithing, and a few days later, they got a mysterious cashier’s check in the mail for a hundred dollars.  There was no address on the envelope.  That hundred dollars was enough to pay the rent.  I was told that story in Family Home Evenings a couple of times when I was a kid, and I believed in the story.  I still believe in it.

Third story: A nice guy in my ward told an anecdote recently during Elder’s quorum about paying tithing.  He said that a few years ago, he and his wife made the choice to stop paying tithing for a few months, because money was tight.  They were trying to sell a house, but they couldn’t get their house sold.  The house wouldn’t sell for a few months, even though they were asking for a reasonable price, and all the rational indicators pointed to a quick sell.  Then, even though they were short on money, they decided to pay tithing, and the house sold quickly thereafter.

Fourth story: MisterFake372 tells his faith-promoting tithing story in reason # 54.  Basically, MisterFake372 started paying tithing again, and his business picked up.  But go read the story yourself.  It's a lot better when he tells it, and it's more dramatic.  

I believe these stories.  I know all the people who told them, and they are good, honorable, honest people.  Why would they lie?

Even though I don’t believe in many things I hear in Church on Sundays, (like a literal, historical Book of Mormon, or that we're the one true church with exclusive priesthood authority) I still support the Church enough to keep paying my tithing.  And I think that paying tithing is good for you, and good for the Church, and good for others.

It’s clear that paying tithing benefits the Church.  Every time you pay tithing, the Church gets a little richer.  And that’s a good thing.  The Church needs money to operate, and to continue its good work.  Is all the money used wisely?  Sadly, no.  I think the City Creek Mall was a mistake, and I think there is plenty of corruption and misuse of funds in the organization.  But I keep paying tithing anyway because I know that virtually every church, government and charity organization is susceptible to corruption.  Does that mean we should jettison all churches, governments, and charity organizations?  Of course not.  Rather, we should continue to support these organizations, to a reasonable extent, helping them improve.  

And how does paying tithing benefit you?  There are a few benefits I can think of.

Paying tithing helps you become less attached to worldly things.  Jesus wants us to be less materialistic.  We humans have a tendency to be selfish.  You can see this tendency in children, when they fight over toys.  Every kid wants the most popular toy, and they regularly assert their ownership over their toys when they shout, “Mine, mine, mine!" But remember, you can’t take all your possessions with you when you die. And remember the wise words of Bob Dylan in his song, Masters of War: “All the money you made will never buy back your soul.”  

Paying tithing helps you walk by faith.

It helps you contribute to the church, which you benefit from.

It helps you feel invested in the organization.  It helps you feel like a part of the Mormon community.

It helps you care about people and things outside of yourself.

I believe that paying tithing benefits me, and that doing so will benefit you, too.  But even if paying tithing doesn’t benefit you, you should still do it anyway, because it will benefit other people.  

When we keep commandments, we shouldn’t have the attitude, “What’s in it for me?”  Rather, we should keep the commandments because we want to help other people, and because we fear God.  

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had the right attitude.  Do you remember that story?  The wicked king Nebuchadnezzar was going to throw them into a fiery furnace if they didn’t worship his gods.  And the trio said, in Daniel 3: 17 - 18, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

In other words, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said, "God can miraculously spare us from execution.  But even if He doesn’t, we’re still going to keep the commandments."  These three heroic men had the attitude that they were going to keep the commandments, whether or not it benefited them.  This is the same attitude that Job had when he said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him."

Well, thanks for reading.  I wish you the best in your spiritual journey.  Take care and see you later.

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