Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #17
Principles of the gospel begin with faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and continue with enduring to the end by obedience to commandments such as consecrating, paying tithing, fasting, sacrificing, and serving. Joseph Smith learned and taught these commandments line upon line.
The commandment to tithe is given to a group, and disciples have a collective responsibility. The message is not that individuals will necessarily receive financial rewards for tithe paying but that every individual has an obligation to the Lord and to his kingdom to pay tithing so that his people as a whole will prosper.
Although many in the early decades of the Church were slow to obey the principle and practice of tithing, leaders continued to affirm the obligatory nature of the commandment. In January 1845 the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles under the direction of President Brigham Young issued an epistle reminding the Saints of their duty to pay tithing (History of the Church 7:358). In 1881 obedience to the law of tithing became a requirement for temple attendance (Journal of Discourses 22:207-208) for those with an income. In May 1899 a manifestation was given to President Lorenzo Snow that even though the Church was beleaguered by financial difficulties, it was nonetheless bound by the law of tithing, as were its members individually, and all would be blessed materially and spiritually by heeding it (LeRoi Snow, Improvement Era, p. 439).
The practice of tithing in the Old Testament is linked to Temple offerings. The law of Moses sometimes mentions tithes in connection with heave offerings. Clay fragments at Masada document the inhabitants’ practice of the priestly tithe.
Fasting regularly and giving the food saved to the hungry, especially our enemies, is the surest route to world peace as well as world health. Impelled by universal human emotions in the face of hunger, especially in a crisis, we have shown we can unite in ways we seem unable to do in other matters, even in something so basic as arms reduction.
General principles of the fast include prayerful preparation concerning the subject of the fast and frequent contemplation and meditation throughout to achieve oneness in purpose and spirit with the Lord; a quiet, humble, and cheerful conduct befitting one seeking blessing or spiritual enlightenment (Matt. 6:16-18; cf. 3 Ne. 13:16-18); and a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving when ending the fast.