As a convert who has a very modest income, I am used to the public questioning my decision to tithe and give an honest Fast Offering each and every month. These last few months not only have my decisions to pay an honest tithe been questioned much louder and with much more confrontation, but the questions have not only been from those in the public, but also some in the church.
My current income is made up of disability insurance from money that I paid in while I was working. I am a student working on my Master of Arts in English – Nonfiction writing to better my opportunities to support myself. I recently finished my Bachelor’s degree in General Studies with a focus on nonfiction writing. My rent payment is about 5/6 of my income at this point and I do find myself humbly asking for assistance more often than I would like. So, why do I pay when I have to ask for help?
My reasons are simple and yet very complex. First, I believe in being obedient and paying tithing is about obedience. Second, I believe in the divine discernment that is given by Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit to our Bishops.
When someone asks a Bishop for assistance, that Bishop has the right, ability and responsibility to seek revelation for that person. I have experienced more than one time when I did NOT request assistance, but a Bishop felt compelled to offer it when he understood better than I did I was going to have financial difficulties ahead. If my Bishop believes I don’t need assistance and I will be able to get by without it, I know I need to trust his discernment.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has developed one of the most admired welfare programs in the world. Though not formalized until 1936, early Latter-day Saints took care of each other.
One of the wonderful blessings of the extensive program of the church is the opportunity to serve. From farms to Bishop’s Warehouses to the distributions of food, where members are encouraged to help one another pick up food, members of the church are given numerous opportunities to serve within the welfare program.
When I recently explained to a young friend my reasons for making sure my tithing was the first thing I pay each and every time I am paid, I included the numerous times that I was provided for when that was the last thing I expected. The times that a Bishop was impressed by my Heavenly Father to let me know that I was worth much more than I thought I was, the times I was treated like a daughter of God. How could I not want that for others?
Paying tithes and fast offerings is a personal and very private decision. It is my feeling that God has entrusted me with some and if I wisely use it and give back 10% plus a fast offering for The Church to use for others in need, I am being prudent. I know personally how humbling it feels to receive of the offerings, I pray I have the opportunity to give much more very soon.