I ran into an old friend a few weeks ago. As we caught up she described going through difficult times. She was in need of employment and was extended the promise, in a blessing, that if she did all she could, she would quickly secure a good job. It had not materialized. She wondered why. In the course of our conversation it also came out that she was not paying a full and honest tithe.
This woman has been active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for many years and has served in leadership positions that required her to instruct and counsel others. I was surprised. And lest you think I put myself on a pedestal, I freely admit a perhaps more indefensible position in my own life. I am a teacher who diligently and regularly studies and teaches the principles of the gospel to others. Yet with all my “knowing,” I still often fall short and fail to abide by all of the gospel principles.
In Doctrine and Covenant 82:10 the Lord teaches us, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”
What does this mean to individuals on earth? It is perhaps more practically and perfectly expressed in an incident from the life of President Harold B. Lee (found in Conference Report, October 1972, p. 130 or the Ensign, January 1973, pp. 107–8):
“I sat in a class in Sunday School in my own ward one day, and the teacher was the son of a patriarch. He said he used to take down the blessings of his father, and he noticed that his father gave what he called ‘iffy’ blessings. He would give a blessing, but it was predicated on ‘if you will cease doing that, (or, if you will do this).’ And he said, ‘I watched these men to whom my father gave the “iffy” blessings, and I saw that many of them did not heed the warning that my father as a patriarch had given, and the blessings were never received because they did not comply.’”(emphasis added)
Notice the “IF” in Malachi 3:10-11, when the Lord gives his law of tithing: “Bring ye ALL the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, IF I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
“And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” (emphasis added)
A wonderful promise was extended to my friend. She would find a job IF she did ALL she could to secure one. This necessitated paying a full and honest tithe. You can imagine the faith required as she was experiencing adverse circumstances. However, by acting in faith and putting payment to the Lord before material desires or payment of other obligations, the blessings from the promise could be realized.
It's both a universal and a specific promise. Universally, when we obey the Lord, he always extends a blessing that greatly supersedes anything he asks of us or any seeming sacrifice we are asked to make. I know this to be true as I have consistently seen this in my life.
More specifically, with the payment of tithes, the Lord, in essence, says, “Give me back 1/10th of everything that is mine — that I have given to you” — and I will:
“Open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” The Lord will rain down so many blessings that there won’t be enough room in your “storehouse” to contain them, you will be blessed “to overflowing.” (And think of this and the following promises in terms not just of temporal, but more importantly, of great spiritual blessings.)
“Rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field.” The Lord will protect us from satan, from evil forces and mischief arrayed against us and our efforts will come to fruition and we will prosper.
“And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land.” Others will recognize that you are blessed and, I suggest, this will stand as a testimony before many that will lead them to praise and serve the Lord as well.
Privileges and blessings far beyond anything we can imagine are available to us IF we are obedient to the Lord’s commands — otherwise, we “have no promise.” I suggested to my dear friend the need to pay a full tithing. I know she will. Unimaginable blessings await her for doing so. I know this because time and again the Lord has blessed me and blessed members of my family as we fully tithed and as we sought to obey his commandments and personal commissions given to each of us.
Kristine Frederickson writes on issue-oriented topics that affect members of the LDS Church worldwide in her column “LDS World." She teaches part-time at BYU. Her views do not necessarily represent those of BYU.