October 10th, 2006

Giving to the Lord

catandmouse

I heard this story last week and found it on LDSLiving, told by W. Jeffrey Marsh (who was an excellent professor for the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith course I took at BYU).

During my mission in Honduras I was asked by various people why we needed to give tithing. Surely God doesn’t need our money. Why does he require this of us when He is an all-powerful God who has no such need for things? This story is the perfect answer.

Elder James E. Talmage shared a parable to help us learn how important it is to appreciate and remember what the Lord has done. He told the story of a distinguished naturalist who, in the course of his customary daily walk, came upon two boys at a millpond, In a basket near the boys were three whining kittens; two other in the pond were struggling to keep from sinking to their doom; and the mother cat was frantically running back and forth on the bank. The naturalist asked the boys what they were doing. They replied that, as servants, they had been told by their employer to drown the kittens. Their employer loved the mother cat, but she didn’t want any more cats around the house.

The naturalist assured the boys that he was a personal friend of their employer and would see to it that they wouldn’t get into any trouble if he could have the remaining three kittens, for the other two kittens had already disappeared in the depths of the pond. To his surprise, “the mother cat evinced more than the measure of intelligence usually attributed to the animal world. She recognized the man as the deliverer of her three children . . . [and rubbed] against him with grateful yet mournful purrs.” The naturalist took the kittens to his home to take care of them.

The next day, when many notable visitors had gathered at the naturalist’s home to honor him, the mother cat came in. “In her mouth she carried a large, fat mouse, not dead, but still feebly struggling under the pains of torturous capture.” She padded up to the scientist and laid the mouse at his feet. Some in the room were repulsed, but the guest of honor probably wept.

Elder Talmage then said:

What think you of the offering, and of the purpose that prompted the act? A live mouse, fleshy and fat! Within the cat’s power of possible estimation and judgment it was a superlative gift. To her limited understanding no rational creature could feel otherwise than pleased over the present of a meaty mouse. Every sensible cat would be ravenously joyful with such an offering. Beings unable to appreciate a mouse for a meal were unknown to the cat.

Are not our offerings to the Lord—our tithes and our other free-will gifts—as thoroughly unnecessary to His needs as was the mouse to the scientist? But remember that the grateful and sacrificing nature of the cat was enlarged, and in a measure sanctified, by her offering.

Thanks be to God the He gages the offerings and sacrifices of His children by the standard of their physical ability and honest intent rather than by the gradation of His exalted station. Verily He is God with us; and He both understand and accepts our motives and righteous desires. Our need to serve God is incalculably greater than His need for our service.

2 Responses to “Giving to the Lord”

  1. October 10, 2006 at 6:37 pm #

    whenever the topic of giving comes up, I always think of the 20th centuries most outspoken advocate for charity, Mother Theresa. I remember seeing her interviewed after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She chastised Western Christians for not giving enough; “give and give until it hurts” she stated. She continually reminded us that Jesus commanded us to take care of the poor; she felt that was our primary responsibility as Christians. And she lived as she taught. Her religious order, the Sisters of Charity, existed on practically nothing, and everything was given to the poor.

    At times I feel guilty that I buy useless “trinkets” or “gadgets” I really don’t need. And we don’t have to go to India to see the poor; they are certainly living in every major city in thi s country. In my religious tradition, we tend to not talk about money, except during October, which is our pledge month. And I believe we are blessed when we contribute.

    So many of us take for granted what we have, and need to remember that we are only stewards of our material goods.

  2. Connor
    October 10, 2006 at 6:48 pm #

    whenever the topic of giving comes up, I always think of the 20th centuries most outspoken advocate for charity, Mother Theresa.

    I agree, Mother Theresa was an excellent example of selfless service.

    At times I feel guilty that I buy useless “trinkets” or “gadgets” I really don’t need.

    Me too. I don’t this is necessarily bad, so long as we are, at the same time, generously giving to the poor.

    And we don’t have to go to India to see the poor; they are certainly living in every major city in this country.

    Indeed. This is what spurred my post on beggars.

    And I believe we are blessed when we contribute.

    I firmly agree. That’s why I’m thankful for the Lord’s law of tithing and the monthly opportunity to give a fast offering.

    So many of us take for granted what we have, and need to remember that we are only stewards of our material goods.

    Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward. (D&C 136:27)

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