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Tithing is fundamental to personal happiness

Takes initial leap of faith

Brings temporal, spiritual blessings

Is not a sacrifice, but

a privilege

Tithing is a principle that is fundamental to the personal happiness and well-being of Church members worldwide, both rich and poor, said President James E. Faust Sunday morning.

This principle of sacrifice, continued President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, is a key to "opening the windows of heaven."

President Faust told Church members worldwide that the law of tithing is simple: "We pay one-tenth of our individual increase annually. Increase has been interpreted by the First Presidency to mean income. What amounts to 10 percent of our individual income is between each of us and our Maker. There are no legalistic rules."

Some in the Church may feel they cannot afford to pay tithing, said President Faust, noting that the Lord has prepared a way for His children to keep all of His commandments.

"To pay tithing takes a leap of faith in the beginning, but as Jesus said: `If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.' (John 7:17)

"We learn about tithing by paying it," said President Faust. "Indeed, I believe it is possible to break out of poverty by having the faith to give back to the Lord part of what little we have. Members of the Church who do not tithe do not lose their membership; they only lose blessings."

President Faust said that although tithing carries with it both temporal and spiritual blessings, the only absolute promise to the faithful is found in D&C 38:39, "Ye shall have the riches of eternity."

He continued that many Church members who have had the windows of heaven opened up to them do not look upon tithing as a sacrifice, but rather a blessing and even a privilege.

"One of the great blessings the people of this Church have is to meet with the bishop once each year, settle their tithing and report that what they have paid in contribution, constituting a tithe. It is also a great blessing of the bishop to have this experience."

President Faust assured the congregation that the tithes of this Church are administered as set forth in the revelation given in 1838 to the Prophet Joseph Smith. "The 18 Church leaders designated in the 120th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants meet together to administer these sacred funds," he explained. "Those of us who sit on that council know that this sacred responsibility is done in accordance with the Lord's `voice unto them.' "

President Faust noted that the need for temples, or "spiritual sanctuaries," all over the world is great. "Those who attend the temples can find protection against Satan and his desire to destroy them and their families," he said. "To Church members in isolated communities of the Church who want to have a temple in their midst, I would suggest that you first show your faith by paying your tithing so that you are worthy to receive temple blessings."

The Lord, said President Faust, often speaks of offerings in the plural.

"I believe," he said, "He expect us, as a condition of faithfulness, to pay our tithing and our fast offerings to help the poor and needy. But we are privileged to make other offerings, not by way of assignment, assessment or ecclesiastical direction. Among these are donations to the general missionary fund, humanitarian aid fund and the Book of Mormon fund. We are also privileged to voluntarily contribute to building the new temples President Hinckley has announced."

The donations of Church members are made holy by their faith, he added.

"The work of God is moving forward in many parts of the world like it never has before, particularly in countries where the economic standards are not high and new members are still learning the principle of faith and how it relates to blessings. To be faithful members of this Church requires sacrifice and consecration. It means that worldly pleasures and earthly possessions should not be our principal aim in life because the gift of eternal life requires a willingness to sacrifice all we have and are in order to obtain it."

President Faust said that in Old Testament times the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel and many people died. Today, he continued, there is a pestilence of violence, evil and wickedness in so many forms on the earth.

"Those who keep their covenants and pay their tithes and offerings will have some extra defense against these virulent modern-day forms of evil. But this protection will not come with a sacrifice which costs us nothing. . . .

"The blessings of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires both exertion and sacrifice," he continued. "Receiving the blessings requires the payment of tithes and offerings. Ours is not a Sunday-only religion. It demands exemplary conduct and effort every day of the week.

"It involves accepting calls and serving with fidelity in those callings. It means strength of character, integrity and honesty to the Lord and our fellow men. It means that our homes need to be places of sanctuary and love. It means a relentless battle against the bombardment of worldly evils. It means at times being unpopular and politically incorrect."

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