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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"...and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."



And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. {Genesis 28:22}

When Michael and I paid taxes together for the first time, we almost had a problem.  An $800 state tax problem.  You see, the year we got married, we both had a change of employment {mine was just a company name} and we both took out of our retirement funds.  Federal taxes is taken out of it, but state is not.  We decided with all the crazy paperwork we had, we would employ a tax service to get it all together for us.  When he told us how much we would owe the state because our retirement disbursements, we about cried...that is until he asked us if we had any deductions, including charitable contributions.  It took about 2 seconds for me to recognize that the check we write once a month to our church was considered a charitable contribution and we could deduct it.  When we were both single, deductions never added up to make a difference, but now that we were married, those deductions added up to save us about $600.  No exaggeration.  What we owed on our state tax dropped from $800 to just under $200.  I'd say that's a miracle.

It's funny whenever I tell people that are not members of our church that story, I get crazy looks.  Often it's, "You pay how much to your church?"  I say with a smile, about 10% of each paycheck.  Added up, yeah, that's a good chunk of change.  But ever since we're little we are taught {just like in the Old Testament} that 10% of what we own belongs to our Heavenly Father.  I like to look at it as rent.  Ü  On Mormon.org, there is a great explanation of what happens with this money.

The principle of tithing, or voluntarily giving one tenth of one’s income to God’s work, has been known since Old Testament times. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20).
The law of tithing is how the Lord funds His Church. Today all faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contribute one tenth of their income as tithing. Tithing funds are used for:
  • Constructing temples, chapels, and other buildings.
  • Providing operating funds for the Church.
  • Funding the missionary program (This does not include individual missionary expenses.)
  • Preparing materials used in Church classes and organizations.
  • Temple work, family history, and many other important Church functions.
  • Education.
When the Lord reminded His people of this law through the prophet Malachi in the Old Testament, He promised to bless those who were willing to pay an honest tithe (Malachi 3:10).

So where am I going with this...even though we willingly pay this money every paycheck doesn't make us immune to trials and tribulations.  If anything, it makes us so much more aware of the silver linings and the blessings that said trials and tribulations help us realize.  Michael and I were discussing this last night after I was thinking about it yesterday.  I was at Mr. A's house talking to him when he realized he hadn't paid me for the week before.  As he was handing me the money, I became ridiculously aware of the blessing this job has brought to me, but not for the reasons you may think.

Last week we were unfortunate enough to have a pipe crack above our garage.  Water came flowing into our entry way and through part of the living room.  Within the first couple hours while cleaning up, it seemed like we were not going to catch a break.  It has seemed that for the last several months, as soon as we make a big purchase that we have been planning for, something happens that completely wipes whatever funds we have available.  Yes, insurance will pay for the damage, but forking out the $400 plumber bill on Wednesday was not easy to do.  Then, over the weekend, I got a reminder of the time of the year.  My car is first under my dad's name.  His birthday is Feb. 2.  Michael's is Feb. 14.  It's car registration time.  About $300 worth.  We have awesome luck, right?

Let me jump back for a moment.  I have always known that Heavenly Father does things His way for a reason.  I have full faith that if we do what we're supposed to and live the way He wants us, things will always work out in the end.  We pay our 10% tithing with no fuss.  It's the first thing that leaves our checking account as soon as the money comes in.  Not three days after we wrote a $500 check for tithing last Sunday, the pipe cracks.  Trust me, that $500 would have been very useful, but it is not ours.  We knew that this month would be tight, but we would still get by. 

Back to yesterday.  As Mr. A was handing me my pay, I had this amazing realization.  No, angels did not come down to me and I didn't hear heavenly singing.  It was just an awareness that we would be fine, and this part-time job was why.  I had every intention of using this job to help pay for our trip next month and to also help pay off credit cards, but two blessings came out of yesterday.  1) A very dear and incredible generous friend helped pay the rest of what I needed for the trip and 2) the money that I have been earning is what we need to pay for our car registrations. 

Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said: “Our major source of revenue is the ancient law of the tithe. Our people are expected to pay 10 percent of their income to move forward the work of the Church. The remarkable and wonderful thing is that they do it. Tithing is not so much a matter of dollars as it is a matter of faith. {Emphasis added by me.}  It becomes a privilege and an opportunity, not a burden. Our people believe in the word of God as set forth in the book of Malachi, that the Lord will open the windows of heaven and pour down blessings that there will not be room enough to receive them (Malachi 3:8-10). Moving and touching is the testimony of Latter-day Saints throughout the world concerning this the Lord’s law for the financing of His work.” {found here.}

Paying tithing does not mean that we will be rich beyond our wildest dreams or that we will always have money when it is needed.  To us, it means having the faith to sacrifice that money to our Heavenly Father with the knowledge that He will provide when we need it most.  Clearly the money earned from my little part-time job is not just given to us.  I have earned it and have had to make the sacrifice of spending a little extra time with Michael in order to earn it.  As we were getting everything cleaned up last week, I was talking to an incredible friend of mine and she said sometimes we have to go through the refiner's fire to see what we're made of.  People always say Heavenly Father only gives us what we can handle.  I don't think that's accurate at all.  If we can handle it, we wouldn't need His help.  I fully believe that Heavenly Father gives us more than we can handle on our own so we can turn to Him to make help with the rest.

I am so very blessed.  I know this with every ounce of my being.  And I know He is there to help make up the rest.  I give 10% of my income to my Heavenly Father.  I do it with a smile and with so much gratitude for what He has given me in return.  I am a Mormon. 

Here then is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd...
Out of the refiner’s fire can come a glorious deliverance. It can be a noble and lasting rebirth. The price to become acquainted with God will have been paid. There can come a sacred peace. There will be a reawakening of dormant, inner resources. A comfortable cloak of righteousness will be drawn around us to protect us and to keep us warm spiritually. Self-pity will vanish as our blessings are counted . {"The Refiner's Fire," Elder James E. Faust, Ensign, May 1979}

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