“Proving the Lord’s Promise,” Liahona, Dec. 1998, 26
Finding the official blue envelope from the Netherlands tax service on my doormat filled me with dread. I picked up the envelope and opened it nervously. Sure enough, it was a notice informing me that I was to meet with the tax inspector on a certain day.
This was the latest in a series of disappointing events that had begun when I read Malachi 3:8–12. I was not a member of the Church at the time, but I took literally the Lord’s promise that he would open the windows of heaven and pour out abundant blessings on those who bring their tithes to him. I thought of the widow who was blessed for casting into the temple treasury her two mites (seeLuke 21:1–4). I knew that God always keeps his promises. And I knew that if anyone needed his promised blessings, I did.
My financial situation was disastrous. My small company was not flourishing. I had few orders, many debts, and a sizable tax liability. And so, without a church to pay an offering to, I chose a charitable organization to which I would pay my “tithing” and offered Heavenly Father a “deal.” “I’ll donate a tithe,” I promised, “if thou wilt deliver me from my financial problems.”
But things didn’t work out as I had hoped. In fact, they grew even worse. And then my wife and I had words on the subject. She said, “I have to clean with a very old vacuum cleaner, and you give money away to charity! I am your wife; don’t I deserve your charitable donations, too?”
What am I doing wrong? I wondered. I am keeping my part of the bargain. Where are the promised blessings?
I decided to read the promise in Malachi again. When I did, I realized that I had been “tithing” in the wrong way. I realized that tithing is not a financial investment; God is not a storekeeper who gives you an article when you put your money on the counter. Tithing, I learned, must be paid out of love and gratitude—not out of a hope of gaining something for oneself.
I asked Heavenly Father’s forgiveness, and things began to go better. But now the blue envelope at my door destroyed my optimism.
With a heavy heart, I walked into the tax inspector’s office for my scheduled appointment. After we had talked for a few minutes, he said, “I have the impression that you are an honest man and that you want to pay but cannot.” He then told me he had decided to forgive my tax debt.
Five minutes later, people on the sidewalk in front of the tax building saw a man dancing with joy, arms raised toward heaven!
Some time after that remarkable turn of events, I joined the Church. And now,after many years of paying a true and honest tithe with a happy and grateful heart, I have proved the Lord’s promise as recorded by the prophet Malachi. I know that Heavenly Father answers our love and faithfulness with rich blessings. Truly he opens the windows of heaven.