When my mom passed away in 2014, my step dad gave me his 1/2 interest in the condo that they had purchased. They bought it for $70,000 in 2010. It appraised for $124,000 in 2014. It was the best real estate return they had. He gave me the money to buy out my little siblings, Madison and Carson, and I bought out my brother’s 1/8 interest as well. I lived in the house until I decided to move to Salt Lake City to marry Sean. I sold the house in January 2017 for approximately $136,000, after fees. I immediately used it to pay off my remaining law school loan debt of $94,000. Next, $24,000 went toward the down payment on Sean and my new house. I was left with $18,000 and a very perplexing question: what portion of this money should I pay tithing on?
Really, I only inherited 1/8 of the house. That was $15,500. My step dad gave/paid for his and his kids’ portions. That was a gift from him. I paid out my brother for his $15,500 portion. The house ended up appreciating by $12,000 by the time I sold it. I used some of the proceeds to buy my next house. So what was my “increase”?
I asked Sean and my step dad what they would do. Sean said he didn’t pay tithing on gifts from family, but would pay on interest gained from gifts. My step dad told me he didn’t know what he would do in my situation, but if he had sold the house, he would only pay tithing on the amount it had appreciated. I asked my Heavenly Father if it would be ok if I just paid tithing on the $42,000 I had left after I paid off my student loans. I felt unsettled about it.
I can’t remember how I was led to this chapter, but somehow during church one Sunday, I was led to a place that I had no reason to be in the scriptures. And here was the story from Acts chapter 5:
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
I’m not sure whether the couple in the story had bought the land or inherited it. I’m not sure if they were supposed to be living the law of consecration at that time (it seems that they were) or just tithing. Either way, when they held back part from God, they were lying to God. And they died.
I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to give it all, and not worry about it. So I paid $13,600 in tithing on June 5, 2017. It was a lot of money, and it was hard. But I was at peace and worried no more. Then, on June 7, we finally found a good renter for our basement. We are renting it to her for $750/month, plus 1/3 of utilities. I had been struggling for two months to find someone, and the first few people were sketchy. Then Helen Bileen came along – a sweet, retired, LDS woman who just finished a family history mission. In a year and a half, her rent will have paid for the tithing I gave to God.
No matter how much I am asked to give, I hope I will always remember that God will give it all back and more through His love and blessings.
Matthew 19:29: And every one that hath aforsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my bname’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit ceverlasting life.