Samuel the Lamanite was a remarkable prophet. He appears so bold and fearless in the scriptures, a Lamanite prophet who preaches among the Nephites to call them to repentance. And when the people try to cast him out, stone him, throw him into prison, he goes back according to the Lord’s directions and preaches some more. As part of Samuel’s preaching and prophecy, he condemns the fickleness of the people and points out that they will believe anyone and everything except God’s true prophets and the truth, their belief being manifest in their willingness to pay and support the lifestyle of “anyone”:
But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him. (Helaman 13:27-28)
I realized several years ago that how I spend money is a pretty clear indication of what I value. Not only that, but when I buy clothing or other products, I am supporting a brand, the image or values that brand promotes, and the creators/purveyors of that brand and their agenda. As I read Helaman 13:28 I couldn’t help but think of reticence to paying tithing. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we pay 10% of our increase to the Lord and the money is administered by the Church according to God’s direction. Tithing can be a tremendous blessing to those who keep that law. It can be a great sacrifice for many, but it helps refine us in important ways. And I always say, God can do more good with my 10% than I can with my 90%. So, some people have problems paying tithing, that’s not going to be a shock to anyone. I’m not going to comment on those concerns and I certainly don’t want to pass judgment. But if we reflect for a moment on how we spend money (e.g. what clothes we buy, what cable television stations we subscribe to, what magazines we order and read, etc.), we may discover that we’ve been paying “tithing” all along, but to other gods.
This principle holds true as well for how we spend time: how we spend money reflects what we value. If we pay God first, that’s a pretty clear demonstration of priorities and our commitment to Him.