While the law of tithing is a simple but important test of devotion, the law of Christ is a higher offering.
God revealed the law of tithing as "one-tenth of all (our) interest annually" (Doctrine and Covenants 119:4). This small sacrifice for God’s abundance demonstrates our faith and gratitude.
Speaking of a different kind of tithing, one Book of Mormon prophet declared, "Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him" (Omni 1:26).
The law of sacrifice
Sacrifice is a foundation for both the law of tithing and higher offerings.
Soon after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord instituted the law of sacrifices in "similitude of the sacrifice that would be made of the Only Begotten Son of God" (Bible Dictionary, "Sacrifices").
To fulfill the spirit of this law, each sacrifice was accompanied by prayer, devotion, dedication and thanksgiving.
The law of sacrifices by the shedding of blood ended with the death of Jesus Christ. In its place, Christ instituted the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of his universal atoning sacrifice for all mankind.
Instead of animal sacrifice, "ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (3 Nephi 9:20).
Contrast today’s gyrations for self-promotion with the selfless path of sacrifice that prepares us to live the higher law of Christ.
The law of Christ
In a revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord declared, "And they who are not sanctified through ... the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom. ... For he who is not able to abide the law of the celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:21-22).
To abide this celestial law, the soul "must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:18).
The law of Christ changes behavior
As we seek righteousness, we are "sanctified by the Holy Ghost" that we may become "pure and spotless before God" (Alma 13:12).
One commandment, one covenant, one sacrifice at a time, we are freed from the shackles of selfishness. Filled with charity, we dedicate our lives to God and become pure "even as he is pure" (Moroni 7:48).
Consider how Christlike purity changes behavior. The Sabbath day’s natural-man playground becomes a day of worship and service. Long-held grudges begin to melt in the refiner’s embrace. In sacred temples, that embrace is both individual and generational.
Heavy burdens are lifted as we yield to Jesus, who took upon himself "the pains and sicknesses of his people" knowing "how to succor their infirmities" (Alma 7:11-12).
Be thou an example
Paul said, "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).
That kind of purity stems from a "mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2).
While tithing one-tenth of our interest is a marvelous test of our faith, offering "our whole souls" to Christ is an exquisite examination of our will.
Both the law of tithing and the law of Christ are designed to teach us the principles of abundance by sacrifice. Addition by subtraction isn’t mathematically sound, but it is the sound of heaven.
In the meridian of time, a carpenter’s son trudged the dusty roads of Judea. He restored vision to the blind and hearing to the deaf and bid the lame to rise and follow him. By his atoning sacrifice, Jesus appropriately invites us to sacrifice our will on God’s altar.
In this way our path is clear, as the Master taught: "Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am" (3 Nephi 27:27).
William Monahan is a 1980 graduate of BYU Law School. He practices law and teaches law and ethics. A former Phoenix stake president and current high councilor, he is active in Interfaith and is a U.S. Air Force veteran.