Latter-day Saint Life

5 blessings of tithing that are easy to overlook but transform lives

A woman holding a mug looks at a bill.
Sometimes, the blessings from paying tithing come in unexpected ways.

God promises to provide powerful blessings when we live the law of tithing. But the fruits of obeying this commandment may not always be what we expect.

For example, one day after paying her tithing, my colleague received a letter from the IRS notifying her of an error on her tax return. The message stated that she owed $20,000—not exactly the temporal blessing she might hope for or anticipate.

Experiences like these can feel confusing, especially when we hear miraculous stories about others who receive unexpected generosity or even checks in the mail after paying one-tenth of their increase to the Lord.

While God can manifest miracles in response to our faith and obedience (see Ether 12:12), we may not always notice obvious outcomes. Yet this doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t blessing us.

In his October 2023 general conference talk, Elder Neil L. Andersen taught, “The windows of heaven open in many ways. Some are temporal, but many are spiritual. Some are subtle and easy to overlook. Trust in the Lord’s timing; the blessings always come.”

What are some of these more subtle or nuanced blessings? And how can we recognize them, especially when keeping this commandment is a sacrifice?

Here are five blessings from paying tithing that we sometimes overlook—but can ultimately transform our lives.

1. A Deeper Understanding of God and the Many Ways He Blesses Us

While we can trust God will keep His promise to open the windows of heaven, our faith should ultimately be in the Giver of every good gift (see James 1:17)—not the gifts themselves. We shouldn’t demand or expect specific results or timelines based on our obedience to a principle.

“Some misunderstand the promises of God to mean that obedience to Him yields specific outcomes on a fixed schedule,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson has taught. “But things are not so mechanical in the divine economy. We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine where we (1) select a desired blessing, (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered.”

When we don’t receive an outcome we might hope for or expect after paying tithing, we can use the experience to draw closer to God and seek to understand what He’s trying to teach us. This approach is easier said than done, but God can help us recognize other ways He is already blessing us (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Through this process, we strengthen our faith in the Lord rather than outcomes. As we look for His hand in unexpected places, we get to know Him better and understand how He works in our lives.

“In the end, it is the blessing of a close and abiding relationship with the Father and the Son that we seek,” Elder Christofferson says. “It makes all the difference and is everlastingly worth the cost.”

2. Greater Perspective and Insight into Our True Value

Donating tithing helps us place our worth in God rather than what we have. This act of faith helps us guard against idolizing material goods, and we become better at expressing gratitude for our blessings.

While it can be easy to forget the source of all gifts when things are going well in our lives (see Helaman 12:2)—not to mention challenging to look for the good in hard times—paying tithing helps us recognize and remember how the Lord has already blessed us.

“No matter our situation, showing gratitude for our privileges is a fast-acting and long-lasting spiritual prescription,” President Russell M. Nelson has taught. “It provides us with a greater perspective on the very purpose and joy of life.”

This opportunity to acknowledge our blessings keeps us centered. It reminds us that money and temporal goods aren’t the ultimate source of our joy or salvation, although they can be valuable tools for good.

The Lord doesn’t need our money, but He does ask for our hearts. When asked why the Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, “his only hope of posterity,” President Hugh B. Brown famously responded, “Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham.”

Paying tithing can sometimes feel like an Abrahamic sacrifice, but we can trust that God gave us this commandment for our good. He wants us to learn something about ourselves that we can learn in no other way.

In his October 2023 general conference talk, President Russell M. Nelson taught that tithing is more about its life-changing impact on us as disciples than it is about finances:

“When I was a young intern, my income was $15 a month. One night, my wife Dantzel asked if I was paying tithing on that meager stipend. I was not. I quickly repented and began paying the additional $1.50 in monthly tithing.

“Was the Church any different because we increased our tithing? Of course not. However, becoming a full-tithe payer changed me. That is when I learned that paying tithing is all about faith, not money.”

3. Increased Capacity for Self-Discipline and Prioritization

Paying tithing encourages us to be thoughtful about how we manage money. We learn to practice restraint, focus our resources on what matters most, and be accountable to the Lord as wise stewards of our “earthly blessings” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:13).

For me, paying tithing is a chance to check in on my financial health and align my money with my values. Whenever I receive a paycheck, I like to think about investing in the Lord first through tithing, and myself and my loved ones second through savings. This approach reminds me to adjust my budget after submitting a tithing donation, ensuring that I’m putting my resources toward what’s most important while planning for necessary expenses and financial goals.

Elder David A. Bednar has suggested that a few subtle blessings from paying tithing include “increased spiritual and temporal capacity … to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired.”

These outcomes not only empower us to better provide for ourselves and our families but also provide more opportunities to serve God and others outside of our circles.

4. A Stronger Sense of Belonging and Meaning

When we donate tithing funds, we join the collective, worldwide effort to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a world desperately searching for purpose and connection, the Lord gives us the privilege to be a part of what President Russell M. Nelson has called “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on the earth today.”

In paying our tithing, we dedicate ourselves to the Lord—showing a tangible desire to serve Him and strengthen our relationship with Him. This action solidifies our commitment to His gospel and membership in His Church.

“[Much] of our belonging comes from our service and the sacrifices we make for others and for the Lord,” Elder Christofferson taught in his October 2022 conference address. “Any sacrifice we make in the Lord’s cause helps to confirm our place with Him who gave His life a ransom for many.”

Even when we feel like our tithing offerings are meager, like the widow’s mites, the Lord honors our contributions and uses these sacred funds to move His work forward.

As of October 2023, the Church had over 71,000 missionaries serving in 414 missions, more than 30,000 congregations in 195 countries and territories, 177 operating temples, and five Church-sponsored institutions of higher learning with around 145,000 students. These programs and resources are all made possible through tithes and offerings, helping the Church reach God’s children across the globe.

In addition to experiencing the sense of purpose and belonging that comes from helping move forward the Lord’s Church, we can enjoy stronger feelings of unity and fulfillment in serving together.

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5. Opportunities to Focus Outward and Relieve Suffering

The blessings of paying tithing are about so much more than our individual wants and needs. Keeping this commandment helps us to look outside our individual cares and concerns and find joy in the spirit of generosity.

One purpose of tithing is to support humanitarian and welfare efforts, fulfilling God’s commandment to “look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:35). In 2022, more than one billion US dollars from members’ tithes and offerings went toward this crucial cause.

As we follow this divine mandate to care for all of God’s children, we share the Lord’s blessings and support others in their times of need.

“All that we have and all that we are comes from God,” Elder Anderson has taught. “As disciples of Christ, we willingly share with those around us. … The only permanent solution to the poverty of this world is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

While we may not always experience “immediate, dramatic, and readily recognizable temporal blessings” from paying tithing, the Lord still opens the windows of heaven for us—even if sometimes in unexpected ways.

When my colleague received a letter from the IRS after paying her tithing, she laughed at the irony of her experience because it was the opposite of what she’d always heard growing up about tithing blessings. But after some reflection, she realized that even if she knew the big bill was coming, she would have paid her tithing anyway since she views it as part of her commitment to following Christ and helping God’s children.

Sometimes, the blessings that come from paying tithing may be less visible than others, but the Lord will help us to spiritually discern and recognize the fruits of our obedience. And coming closer to Him through this process might be the most rewarding blessing of all.

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