“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.” -Leviticus 27:30
We do not own anything we have. This is a hard reality for many to comprehend. When we reject Ego we begin to understand that everything we have is a gift. We borrow everything from the earth, and as good stewards we must give back.
Yes, the Lord has given us everything we have. And, nothing anyone gains was earned solely of themselves. Everything comes from a combination of the forces around them; people, resources, government planning, and more. All of this comes from the God that brought the universe into existence. The Lord has asked that we give a portion back to Him.
“…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, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.” -Doctrine & Covenants 106:1b CoC, 119:4 LdS
The Lord has asked that we give ten percent of all we gain to Him. This is a small price to pay for everything that we have. How do we pay tithes? In this day and age, the simplest way is to look at what we’ve earned financially, and give ten percent. However, this isn’t always the best way. Some do not have the financial resources to pay tithes, and not everything we gain is in monetary resources. What then should we give?
In the original Church of Christ, people gave of what they had. This meant money, livestock, grains, or other goods. Today we can donate groceries to food pantries, or clothing and other items to homeless shelters. We’re not talking about just giving away food that’s about to expire or old clothing because one is cleaning out their wardrobe. We can work with these organizations and give to those in need in a way that can better enrich people’s lives.
For example, one with three suits might donate one to someone in need of a suit for an interview or new job. Or perhaps just a clean dress shirt is needed. By discovering what a true need is and giving to fill that need we are paying tithes. It is a sacrifice to the Lord. Likewise, time is a valuable resource. Giving time to those in need and/or in service of one’s church or the Fellowship is a tithe to the Lord as well. As the Lord said to President Wallace B. Smith, “I am aware of your desires to serve me and my assurance is that as you go fourth, your offering of faith and service are acceptable to me” (Doctrine & Covenants 157:16b2 CoC).
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” -CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
Anything we give beyond the ten percent is considered an offering to the Lord. How much of an offering is required? If it hurts a little, it is enough. If it impedes upon our survival, it is too much. To some, giving ten percent is so insignificant it isn’t even noticed. To these, the Lord asks more. One need not give up all they have, but all we can spare. And, we should do so as moved by the Holy Spirit. Listen for the gentle nudge of the Spirit.
There will be times when it is clear what to do. For example, when we fast we should give an offering of the food we would have eaten or the food we did not eat to those in need. Other times we may be moved in unexpected ways.
There was a time once when I was out of food and had money to buy gas to get to work or food, but not both. I chose to get gas and prayed for the Lord’s help. As I left work, my mother met me at my car. She had driven a town over to buy groceries. She felt impressed to buy extra. She then followed the promptings of the Spirit to go to my work and give me the excess food she had purchased. I hadn’t spoken to anyone of my finances. This was the miracle I had prayed for.
The Proper Spirit
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” -2 Corinthians 9:7
As always in Mormon Kabbalah, what we give is never as important as how we give. This is to say, the spirit in which we are offering our sacrifice. We do not give for salvation, we have already given God our broken hearts and contrite spirits. Our tithes and offerings should be tikkun olam, for the “repair of the world,” and the “construction for eternity.” We give as we are moved by Grace (Jacob 3:8 RAV, 4:7 OPV). As we give, the light of Christ should flow freely from our kli, healing the world.
If we pay our tithes grudgingly we will not be blessed. If we give our offerings to be seen of men we have received our reward (Matthew 6:1-4). As we give, we are learning to follow the Lord, and growing in Christ’s Grace. We deepen our relationship with God and live the spirit of ubuntu. If we give properly, we are abandoning Ego for greater Christian altruism. For we are not born to gain, but to give.