Doubt, the Devourer

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by Nick Galieti

It has been declared anciently that in these latter-days, among the various tragedies that will come to the world, this has been said of the Earth’s people:

Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.

homeless

A simple view of society in and outside the United States of America will show a vastly different world even 20 years ago. More and more we can see a shift in the morality and priorities of mainstream society to an attitude of eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Fear seems to have replaced peace in the tone of rhetoric and conversation, and media stories tend to focus on all that is wrong rather than all that is hopeful.

We tend to fear what we do not trust. Much of doubt and fear is influenced by something that is temporal in nature, as we should not trust in the arm of the flesh. We doubt things from the economy to the nature of jobs or relationships. Many don’t trust governmental leaders/politicians. University professors or secular teachers can cast doubt on perceived knowledge or belief. We can even doubt the goodness of others. In these cases we are still dealing with a spiritual lack of trust that gives way to doubt. Doubt fills the trust vacuum.

Doubt can be viewed as the result of lack of knowledge, or a lack of understanding of God and his plan. Doubt is more closely related to fear; fear of the unknown, or fear of risk. When we doubt we often feel powerless.

There seems to be a rise in fear, depression, debt and anxieties. What remedy is there in the gospel program to combat a perspective that is doubtful about what the future holds?

The answer is tithing.

While doubt seems to be caused by temporal influences, doubt is a spiritual issue at its core and so must its remedy be. In D&C 29:35-35 we are taught:

34 Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.

35 Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.

To see the spiritual answer or cure in tithing comes from three sources: Malachi, The Abrahamic Covenant, and a quote from Apostle Elder John A. Widtsoe. First, the promises in Malachi 3:10-12:

10 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.

11 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.

12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

What is a devourer? I consider a devourer anything that hungrily consumes and does so in what appears to be a destructive fashion. I consider doubt to be a devourer. It can overtake our passions, it can overtake our testimony, our knowledge, our very actions, and doubt can all but make our trust seem extinct.

How does tithing “rebuke” the devourer for our sakes? And what of these protections offered to our land, and our labors spoken of in Malachi?

Consider for a moment the protections offered with the Abrahamic Covenant. What does that covenant say?

“Abraham received the gospel and was ordained to the higher priesthood (a covenant) (D&C 84:14; Abr. 2:11), and he entered into celestial marriage, which is the covenant of exaltation (D&C 131:1–4; 132:19, 29). Abraham received a promise that all of the blessings of these covenants would be offered to his mortal posterity (D&C 132:29–31; Abr. 2:6–11).

Promise 1: “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. (Gen. 13:14–15.)

God Promised Abraham a land. A land that is protected from the world, protected from destruction.

Promise 2: “And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” (Gen. 13:16.)

The promises is to be blessed with great family, so great that they cannot be numbered – similar language to not having room enough to receive it.

Promise 3: “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” (Gen. 17:7.)

With a covenant established the Lord is in a place to provide the blessings He has in store for us, and for us to have complete trust in those promises.

Promise 4: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18.)” (See lds.org entry for Abrahamic Covenant)

Living the law of tithing is, in part, how to greater fulfill the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. With the blessings of that covenant comes a sense of peace, a sense of security. Both tithing and the Abrahamic Covenant require the sacrifice of our worldly possessions, and both promise heavenly protection. The promises of the Abrahamic covenant mirror those found in Malachi.

tithing

Today we take on the Abrahamic Covenant in our modern day temples (buildings built and supported through tithing.) Living covenant promises helps us to live worthy of the Holy Spirit, a comforter. That comfort dispels doubt as one cannot feel doubt and spiritual comfort at the same time.

Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of other spiritual blessings that come when we pay tithing that helps to join these two principles:

“The tithe-payer establishes communion with the Lord. This is the happiest reward. Obedience to the law of tithing, as to any other law, brings a deep, inward joy, a satisfaction and understanding that can be won in no other way. Man becomes in a real sense a partner, albeit a humble one, with the Lord in the tremendous, eternal program laid out for human salvation. The principles of truth become clearer of comprehension; the living of them easier of accomplishment. A new nearness is established between man and his Maker. Prayer becomes easier. Doubt retreats; faith advances; certainty and courage buoy up the soul. The spiritual sense is sharpened; the eternal voice is heard more clearly. Man becomes more like his Father in Heaven” (in Deseret News, 16 May 1936, Church Section, 5).

Doubt is an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual devourer. Doubt retreats and is rebuked, when tithing is paid, because, like the Abrahamic Covenant, as we live our covenants, we will be provided a place of protection where we can be in peace, also a place where doubt it kept free. When we pay our tithing we can trust God to help us manage and guide those temporal affairs that may cause us to feel doubt and fear in the first place.

Please feel free to share your stories of how paying tithing has helped rebuke doubt in your life.  

Photo credit:  Tim Hamilton via Compfight,

 

7 Responses to Doubt, the Devourer

  1. readermom says:

    After we lost our business we struggled for a long time. Budgeting was difficult because the have-to-be-paid things we much more than the money coming in. I held tight to the promise of paying our tithing. I knew that we would have a roof over our heads and food for our children as long as we paid tithing. Things are still tight, but I know that the Lord helped us when we were truly in need and we will be able to get through any crisis.

    • Nick Galieti says:

      Thank you for your comment. It seems sometimes that the blessings of keeping commandments are the very blessings that we need in the moments where the commandments are the hardest. (hopefully that makes sense–it did in my head).

  2. Brenda says:

    Harsh experience with other people, politicians, institutions and many other things teach us to doubt. Tithing and the covenants we make are leading us along to be able to be and ultimately live in a society where everyone is trustworthy, kind, and Christlike. It is a ramp up to the Law of Consecration and steps in that direction certainly bring peace in our hearts as we lean on the Lord. People are still going to disappoint us and act badly but keeping the commandments and tithing in particular can insulate us from those difficulties.

    Loved this article, it is a good reminder of the blessings received as we do what the Lord has asked.

    • Nick Galieti says:

      I love your word “insulate” in this case. Tithing is a great insulation from the trials of the world. It is not so much that trials don’t come, but that we are buffered from them.

  3. Paul says:

    Nick, I’m sorry it took me so long to get to this post this week (some weeks are like that, eh?), but I’m glad I finally got to it. What an interesting perspective that the devourer is doubt. Honestly speaking, I’ve never thought of it that way, and yet it does make sense to me. And reflecting on my own experience, tithing-paying has been one in a series of things I’ve done consistently in my certainty of the truthfulness of the gospel and the church. Even in those white knuckle moments of tithing paying like readermom cites, the finality of paying does offer solace amid uncertainty.

  4. Ray says:

    I tend to view “doubt” as an active disbelief, as opposed to uncertainty, which simply is a lack of knowledge or certainty. Thus, I like the idea that doubt is a devourer.

    As for tithing, I have paid all my life and been protected for it – but not in the way that some people describe. I’ve never had money miraculously appear to pay a bill I was unable to pay because of tithing. Instead, I’ve been out of work on three occasions long enough to need assistance from the Church, and, as humbling and difficult as it was to accept that help, I knew I had “done my part” financially to help take care of the Church – so I knew I was justified, if you will, in receiving help from the Church to take care of my family.

    I really dislike the idea of tithing being “fire insurance” – but I accept totally the idea of tithing being “financial difficulty insurance”. I see myself as in partnership with the Church, and receiving help when needed is part of the fulfillment of the terms of partnership when I have done my part faithfully.

    Also, I know a man who is a Bishop. The following is from him:

    The most moving moment in a tithing settlement came last year when I asked the children in a family why the Lord asks us to pay tithing. Their response was typical – so that missionary work could be done, so chapels and temples could be built. I then asked, “Why doesn’t the Lord simply tell Pres. Hinckley where all the gold in the world is? Then we could use that to build the temples and do missionary work.” One of the young men in the family, an eight-year old, put his hands on his hips, looked at me like, “Bishop, you should know better,” and said:

    “The reason Heavenly Father asks us to pay tithing is that He is trying to turn us into gold.”

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