In Gospel Doctrine class yesterday (I wasn?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t teaching), we were discussing the concept of tithing. A common theme running through several of the comments was how since God gave us everything, we should be willing to give back 10%.
I think this completely misses the point of tithing.
According to the chapter heading of D&C 119, the law of tithing was implemented because the early saints were unable to live the law of consecration. It?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s a lesser law, but I think its purpose is similar.
Those who live the law of consecration do so with the understanding that all property is common, that all possess equally, and that all belongs to God.
Let us look at a few scriptures:
?¢‚Ç¨?ìBehold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s thy God, the earth also, with call that therein is.?¢‚Ç¨¬ù(Deut. 10:14)
?¢‚Ç¨?ìThe earth is the Lord?¢‚Ç¨Àús, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (Psalm 24:1)
?¢‚Ç¨?ìFor the earth is the Lord?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s, and the fulness thereof.?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (1 Cor. 10:26)
?¢‚Ç¨?ìBehold and lo, mine eyes are upon you, and the heavens and the earth are in mine hands, and the riches of eternity are mine to give.?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (D&C 67:2)
The law of consecration isn?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t about helping us remember God gave us everything; it?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s about helping us remember that everything belongs to him. It?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s about teaching us to overcome selfishness, pride, envy, and covetousness by realizing that material items are simply loaned to us to be stewards over. We certainly can?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t take houses, clothes, or cars with us when we die.
This is the same for tithing. We don?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t pay tithing in order to show God gratitude for what he has given. We don?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t pay tithing because 10% ?¢‚Ç¨?ìis nothing?¢‚Ç¨¬ù compared to how much the Lord gives us. We pay tithing to acknowledge that none of it belongs to us; it all belongs to the Lord.
When Malachi asked, ?¢‚Ç¨?ìwill a man rob God?¢‚Ç¨¬ù (Mal. 3:8), it wasn’t about our withholding money from God. After all, what would someone who can create a world need with money? Where we rob God is in not acknowledging his ownership of all things and taking his things as our own.
Until we can truly live the law of consceration, tithing plays the role of our token sacrifice to God. It?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s hardly sufficient, but it?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢ll have to do for now.