Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week, episode 8 of Tween Talk is about tithing.
Tween Talk Episode 8
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Tween Talk 8 Transcript
Have you ever wondered how much tithing you need to pay, or whether you should pay tithing when Grandma gives you $20 for your birthday?
This week we’re going to talk about the tithing, since that’s a big question youth have.
Do you guys remember how we answer questions? We focus on the doctrine and the principles, THEN we talk about the applications. Let’s recap what those are real fast.
Doctrine is the deep stuff that never changes. We are children of God. The Plan of Salvation. These answer the “Why?” about the gospel.
Principles are the commandments that God gives us. Tithing, the law of chastity are some examples. They answer the “What?” as in, “What am I supposed to do?” Principles can change throughout history. In the 1800s, some members of the Church tried to live the Law of Consecration, but that was replaced with the Law of Tithing. But principles come from the prophet and apostles.
Then there are applications. These answer the “how” of the gospel, and this is what we can decide on our own and how we choose to be valiant.
So we’re going to first talk about the doctrine behind tithing and then the principle of tithing. THEN we’ll talk about lots of different ways people apply the principle of tithing, as well as the blessings that come from paying tithing.
Alright, the doctrine behind tithing. Why does the Lord command us to pay tithing?
After all, we read in D&C 104:14 “I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.”
Then we read in Psalm 24:1 that “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
I could read a LOT more scriptures about how the earth is the Lord’s, but I think you’ve got the idea that this is DOCTRINE, not just stuff Sister Thomas is making up.
So this earth is the Lord’s. That means all of nature and everything in it.
But it’s more than that. Look at your body. It’s really not YOUR body. It’s the Lord’s, and He gave it to you.
Look at the house you live in. It’s built from wood, which comes from trees, which comes from who? The Lord.
Okay, well what about your mp3 player? Technology came from the Lord. Not only did He make the physical elements used to create plastic, but he also gave the INSPIRATION to the man who invented the tech.
I’m an author. I have published novels you can buy on Amazon. But you know what? I literally cannot write very well unless I say a prayer first, asking for the Lord for inspiration.
So even then, the books I write aren’t really mine.
Every. Single. Thing is the Lord’s.
So when you work hard and you earn money, whose money is it really?
C’mon, I know you know.
That’s right, it’s the Lord’s. Sure, you did the word, but He gave you a body to do the work. He gave you your mind.
Well, let’s think about it: we need to eat, right? So whether we work a job and pay for food, or we physically grow the food ourselves, or a combination of it, we need it to survive.
The point of this life is to prove we can be trusted. Well, our mortal bodies wouldn’t last very long without food and shelter. So we work so we don’t die, basically.
The Lord provided us with all these amazing things so we can stay alive and share the gospel with others, so they, too, can one day attain the Celestial Kingdom.
But because it’s all the Lord’s, He’s letting us borrow it. To have some of it. Then he asks for us to physically return the rest.
This is where the principle comes into play – WHAT is tithing?
So tithing has been paid, in some form or another, for thousands of years, in every dispensation.
Remember what a dispensation is? It’s a time when prophets are on the earth. So we started out with Adam. Then people fell away and became wicked. That’s called apostasy. So another prophet was called – Noah, which started another dispensation. But then eventually the people fell away. Then Abraham was called.
See the pattern? It goes dispensation, apostasy, dispensation, apostasy.
Each time there is a new dispensation, the culture is different, right? Technology is different. The world looked really different for Noah after the flood than it did when Joseph Smith was called, right?
And the world today is really different than in Joseph Smith’s day.
So while the doctrine never changes, the principles change.
In every dispensation, God has expected us to give back to Him some of what He gives us.
One example is the Law of Consecration. This means that you only keep what you need, and give ALL the rest back to the Lord and His church.
This was practiced after Jesus was resurrected, and it was practiced again in the early days of the Church with Joseph Smith.
We’re going to use eggs as an example.
Let’s say you have a bunch of chickens, and they lay 100 eggs in a week. Your family only needs 35 eggs to eat. What do you do with the leftover 65?
In the Law of Consecration, you turn all 65 over to the Church, and they give it out to members who don’t have any chickens.
If your neighbor grows 200 carrots and only needs 50, then the remaining 150 will be given to the Church, to be divided out between everyone else. So you’re going to give your eggs away, and you’ll get some of your neighbor’s carrots.
See how it works?
The early Saints struggled with the Law of Consecration. There was a lot of jealousy and arguing and greed. So the Lord instructed the prophet to instead institute the Law of Tithing, which is what we practice today.
The word tithing comes from the Hebrew word “ma’aser” and means “a tenth part.”
Tithing was also practiced in other dispensations, not just ours. Abraham paid tithing in Genesis 14:20. The children of Israel paid tithing in Numbers 18:21-28. And the Nephites paid tithing in 3 Nephi 24:8-12.
Similarly, we are asked by the prophet for our day to pay tithing, the tenth part. The exact commandment comes from D&C 119:3-4 and says, “This shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. And after that, 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.”
Did you know this commandment is so important, it’s one you are asked about to go into the temple? They don’t ask if you say your prayers every day, but they ask if you’re a full tithe payer.
What does that even mean, though?
On March 19, 1970, the First Presidency sent an official letter to the Church that clarified the word “interest.” It doesn’t mean the interest that your bank account gets. Instead, the letter says, “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this.”
So basically, you are paying tithing on 10% of your income. And do you know what it’s used for?
The Church uses it to pay for the buildings and the temples, pay for Church activities, pay for creating manuals and programs like seminary and Come Follow Me, and a lot more. We could go into more detail, but that’s not the point of today’s podcast.
So, we’ve talked about WHY we pay tithing and WHAT tithing is and what it’s used for.
Now we come to the part of HOW to pay our tithing.
Did you know that people pay tithing in lots of different ways?
When a person gets a job, the government takes out taxes. The amount of money you get before taxes is called your GROSS income.
The amount of money you get after your taxes is called your NET income.
Let’s say you make $1,000 and the government takes out $200. That leaves you with $800.
(Yes, tithing requires math, sorry about that.)
Some people pay their tithing on their gross income and pay $100. Other people pay tithing on the net income, and they pay $80.
Which one is right?
That’s a trick question.
The answer is BOTH.
Now, I can just hear you now – but wait, why do some people pay $100 and others pay $80? That’s not fair!
Well, sure, it’s not fair if you’re comparing yourself to your neighbor. But that’s not what the purpose of life is about! It’s about proving yourSELF trustworthy. Your own obedience to the commandments has absolutely nothing to do with what Frank down the street is doing.
How you apply the Law of Tithing is between you and the Lord. No one else. Your bishop can give you guidance, and he does ask you if you pay a full tithe in your temple recommend interviews and at tithing settlement at the end of each year.
But he doesn’t ask you to prove it. He doesn’t ask to look at your parents’ paychecks or your allowance or babysitting money and use a calculator to find 10% and tell you that you’re $11.61 short.
How you define your income is between you and the Lord.
And guys, THIS is where people get confused. THIS is where judgment happens. People get an answer for themselves on how they should apply a principle, and then they tell everyone that’s how it HAS to be.
But they don’t have stewardship over you.
Applications of gospel principles are between you and God.
I know someone who pays their tithing on their gross income.
I know someone who pays tithing when they get money for their birthday, and I know someone else who doesn’t.
And guess what? They are BOTH full tithe payers. They are doing what THEY feel is right.
Do you know what is wrong? What’s wrong is to say, “How LITTLE can I pay?”
The problem is when you want someone to tell you the application so you can get away with doing as little as possible.
That’s Terrestrial Kingdom stuff.
That’s not being valiant in your testimony.
It’s about your HEART. Your ATTITUDE about it.
Here, let me tell you a story that might help make this understood.
There’s a story told about a stage coach company was hiring teamsters to drive its stage coaches through a mountainous area. The local office manager had advertised for the position and people began to apply for the job. As they were interviewed, the boss asked each applicant, “How close can you drive the team to the edge of the cliff as you round the mountain.” The first fellow replied that he was skilled enough that he could drive the stage coach within three feet of the edge of the cliff. The boss thanked him for his time and called in the next applicant.
In the course of the interview, the boss asked the next man the same question. He replied that he could drive the team and coach within one foot of the edge of the cliff. He likewise was thanked for his time and the next applicant was called in. The boss asked this fellow the same question. He replied, “I would drive the coach as far from the edge of the cliff as I possibly could.”
Which man do you think go the job?
Exactly, the man who stayed as far away from the edge as possible!
That’s what Heavenly Father wants us to do. He wants us to learn about the commandments and follow them. Being trustworthy and valiant is NOT saying, “How bad can I be? How short is TOO short for my dress? What kind of movie is TOO bad for me to look at?”
So with tithing, the WRONG answer is, “How little can I pay and still be okay?”
The RIGHT answer is, “How much can I afford to give, and what do I think is right?”
I know someone whose car broke down, and they didn’t have the money to pay buy a new one. Someone in the ward heard of their struggle and GAVE them a car they had been thinking about selling.
My friend considered the value of that car as increase in their life. So they found out the value of it and paid 10% tithing in cash to the bishop.
Does that mean you need to be panicked and always trying to figure out what your increase is?
Of course not. That’s being fanatical, a Pharisee.
Just sit down with Heavenly Father in prayer and talk about what He thinks you should do. You can talk about it with your parents, maybe some of your leaders at Church, or even the bishop, all to get their insight.
But then you take that input and make your OWN decision on how to apply tithing. And do what feels RIGHT to you.
Being VALIANT doesn’t mean paying as much as possible. If you pay 15% tithing, it’s not going to do you any more good than if you pay 10%!
Paying on gross income instead of net income doesn’t mean you’ll get a bigger mansion in heaven.
It’s about doing what is right for YOU at the THIS stage in your life.
There may be times where you pay tithing on net income, then later in life pay tithing on gross income.
I know someone who paid tithing when they received scholarships for college, but not when they took out student loans (which they had to repay).
There are a million different ways of applying tithing.
The point is, guys, and I know I’m saying it a million times, but that’s because you NEED to understand this.
Applications are INDIVIDUAL.
You cannot judge someone for how they apply the gospel. Period.
And as we do future podcasts, I’m going to tell you that again and again and again.
In a lot of places, you’ll find that people have taken applications and turned them into culture. They mistake them for doctrine.
You may have a Priesthood leader one day tell you that tithing HAS to be on gross income in order to be a full tithe.
And now you can have the confidence to know they’re wrong in that statement, and you’ll be able to explain to them why.
Or just ignore them and roll your eyes. That’s what I do.
And go on being valiant. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? Being valiant in our testimonies? Proving ourselves trustworthy?
It’s natural to want to pay the least amount of tithing. But as Mosiah 3:19 says, the natural man is an enemy to God.
We don’t want to just be GOOD. We want to be GREAT in the sight of God.
And do you know what is so amazing about being valiant?
Heavenly Father doesn’t just promise you the Celestial Kingdom and all His power and glory, but He also promises to bless you NOW!
When you follow the commandments, when you VALIANTLY apply those principles, He blesses you in THIS life, too!
Let’s read about some of those promised blessings. First, Malachi 3:10-12
“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.”
Okay, imagine this with me: God sitting up in the clouds, near a window. He looks out and sees you paying tithing. So He runs over, fills up a bucket of blessings (just like a bucket of water), opens the window, and dumps it out over your head.
Isn’t that awesome?
Now, verse 11: “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.”
The devourer is Satan. Here, the Lord promises that if you pay tithing, Satan can’t destroy your efforts. You’re not out there physically planting seeds and picking fruit, but you ARE working to be successful in this life. The Lord promises your efforts won’t be wasted.
AND it means that your efforts will be done in the RIGHT time.
Sometimes it feels like things happen at the wrong time. Maybe your parent loses a job. Or someone gets sick. Or you break your ankle RIGHT before the state track meet.
But your efforts aren’t wasted, AND it will all be on the RIGHT time.
We don’t always know why, because we don’t remember our flow charts, but the Lord does. And He won’t let one area of our flow chart stop short or run out too soon if we’re paying our tithing.
And now verse 12: “And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly a land. And all the nations of the earth have no clue who I am.
But the people who see me will look at me and say, “Wow, she’s so lucky! How is she so happy?”
Because I’m at peace, because I’m being valiant in my testimony of God.
Does this mean I’ll always have enough money? Or be rich? Or nothing bad will happen to me?
Nope, not at all.
One time, my medical bills were so high because I had been so sick and in the hospital for months that we had to ask our Bishop for help paying our mortgage.
But that money was there because we had always paid our tithing. And others pay their tithing. And the tithing is used to help bless people in their hours of need.
And we will have happiness and peace and CONFIDENCE that we are going to the Celestial Kingdom because we are being VALIANT.
And everyone who sees us will know that there’s something special about us. They probably won’t know what it is, but WE’LL know.
And the Lord will know.
Another promise about tithing is in D&C 64:23, which says, “for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.”
I like to joke that tithing is fire insurance for the Second Coming.
In all seriousness, though, I know that these promises are true. I have seen them in my life, time and time again.
So be valiant in paying your tithing. And remember that a full tithe looks different for every person, and it may even look different for you at different stages in your life.
It’s not about exactly how much you pay, but it’s about doing it with a sincere heart, just as all of the other commandments are.
Speaking of other commandments, I’ve received a lot of requests to talk about __, so we’ll do that next week!
Remember, you can submit your requests for podcasts on my website, savingtalents.com/podasts
Until then, I’m Tiffany Thomas, and this is Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints. See y’all next week!