Science Links Paying Tithing with Happiness, Success

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Widow puts in her mite
Image via The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This article was originally published in LDS Living by Danielle Beckstrom. Below is an excerpt.

As Latter-day Saints, we understand tithing is a blessing, but sometimes, it can be difficult to see the ways it really does bless our lives. Check out these five incredible ways researchers have found tithing and charitable giving make us happier, healthier, and more prosperous people.

Tithing Leads to Prosperity

“The value of charity is not limited to those who receive the services that giving makes possible. On the contrary, charity unleashes substantial benefits to the givers themselves” (“Does Giving Make Us Prosperous?”).

The Science

In 2008, Arthur C. Brooks examined data from the 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey to determine the relationship between charitable giving and income. Brooks found that as income level rose, so did the percentage of people who gave charitable contributions. In the highest income category, 94% of people gave charitable contributions and 74% donated to religious causes specifically. Many argued that these findings fit the common economic explanation that with a higher income comes a greater ability to give, but Brooks’ study found this explanation too simplistic. Instead, he found, “charity and prosperity are mutually reinforcing,” meaning when we give more, we become more prosperous, and when we become more prosperous, we tend to give more (“Does Giving Make Us Prosperous?”).

What Does This Teach Us About Tithing?

We’ve heard it time and time again: Heavenly Father has promised us that when we pay our tithing, He will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). But, oftentimes, we consider these blessings as purely economic. We give of our income, so that means we should receive money back, right?

Not really, no. Prosperity is so much more than your annual income. The miracle of tithing is that it teaches us those Christlike attributes that help us become more prosperous Saints, not necessarily just richer Saints. Tithing teaches us to budget, to work hard, and to invest in things we care about. It shows us our priorities and what we should be spending our money on. As a result, we become the type of people with the work ethic, perspective, and economic sense to be prosperous regardless of our income.  If we are just investing in tithing hoping we’ll get material wealth in return, we are missing out on the most important and eternally significant ways that tithing shapes and blesses us.

To continue reading this article, visit LDS Living.

Bridget is a newsroom writer at LDS.net. She graduated in April 2015 from Brigham Young University in communications with an emphasis of public relations. She served a Spanish speaking LDS mission in McAllen, Texas. She is a skilled pianist and an expert baker of chocolate chip cookies.