I don’t have much time to write this week, but do have one thought that’s been on my mind a lot lately that I would like to share as my plane heads quickly toward that darn 10,000-foot level and it is this: fast offerings are under-utilized in the LDS church!
By “under-utilized,” I do not mean that what is received by the Church is either too-little or poorly spent by the bishops of the Church. I mean, rather (and rather bluntly), that the members of the Church do not pay enough in fast offerings.
Fast offerings can, and generally do, bless those on whose behalf they are spent, of course. But fast offerings also bless the giver. And I think there is a correlation between the amount given (not in absolute terms but in relative terms—remember the widow’s mite) and the blessings received.
When I was a senior in high school, my seminary teacher told me he heard Marion G. Romney (I think) say that if members would double their fast offerings, the Lord would double their income. And he said he did it and it worked. I’ve never felt comfortable trying to hold the Lord directly to that promise for myself, perhaps since I haven’t directly heard a prophet say such a thing and I think I’d feel like I was tempting or testing the Lord somehow and I don’t think it’s my job to test him.
On the other hand, the Lord has invited us to try him with regard to tithing. “Prove me now herewith,” He said. So perhaps it’s not a stretch to think he invites us to do similarly with fast offerings.
At any rate, we ought to pay generous fast offerings without expectation of any “return on investment.” Caring for the poor is a fundamental responsibility of every Christian. It’s so fundamental, it makes me wonder why it isn’t brought up in the temple recommend questions. “Do you provide generous fast offerings in support of the poor and the needy to the extent your circumstances will allow?” Or something like that.
I also wonder why we do so little to teach our children to pay fast offerings. We sometimes complain about our children seeming insufficiently grateful. Yet we too seldom teach them to appreciate what they have by sharing it with those in greater need than they.
Of course, I don’t wish to imply that I’ve mastered either the adequacy of my own fast offerings or the teaching of my children. I certainly know many people (medical professionals, psychologists, social workers, policeman, professional teachers, etc) who spend far more time ministering to people’s basic needs than I do. However, I have experienced enough to testify with great confidence that generous blessings follow generous fast offerings—and less generous blessings follow less generous fast offerings. This is an opportunity we should not minimize. For many good reasons.
Caring for the poor in significant ways is a key element of living after the manner of happiness!