Doubt, the Devourer
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.
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.
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.