Returning to his office several months ago, President J. Samuel Park of the Illinois Nauvoo Mission found on his desk two small buckets filled with pennies. An unsigned note stated that children had donated the pennies to help construct the Nauvoo Illinois Temple.
All total, the pennies had little purchasing power. Perhaps they could buy a handful of nails or some screws, or maybe a bulb for a lamp to help bring light and beauty to the building. While the amount donated might be insignificant, the donation itself was worthwhile. After all, it takes nails, screws and lamp bulbs to complete a temple.
Combined with other donations, whether a few cents or thousands of dollars, the children's pennies helped reconstruct the beloved Nauvoo Temple. Certainly, in making their small contribution, the children learned an important lesson about how to use the resources with which the Lord has so abundantly blessed them. In short, they learned the best use of money.
Many people go through life never learning that lesson. They seek, and sometimes obtain, great wealth at the expense of more important factors in their lives, namely, their families and their spiritual well-being. And then, to make matters worse, they become selfish and keep their wealth to themselves.
In the New Testament, Paul put in perspective money and its use. Paul wrote that "the love of money is the root of all evil." (1 Timothy 6:10, italics added.) A few verses later, we see that Paul recognized the good that could be accomplished with money; he instructed Timothy: "Charge them that are rich in this world, . . . That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute." (1 Timothy 6:17-18.)
Brigham Young echoed Paul's counsel, saying: "I like to see men get rich by their industry, prudence, management and economy, and then devote it to the building up of the Kingdom of God upon this earth." (Journal of Discourses 2:115.)
Through tithes and offerings, each of us can help build the kingdom. In some parts of the world, the contribution slips we fill out include these categories: Tithing, Fast Offering, Missionary (ward and general), Book of Mormon, Temples, Humanitarian and Perpetual Education Fund. Additional contributions may be specified by filling in the line "Other."
Some of us might say, "If I had lots of money, I'd build a school or a hospital to serve the poor." Or, "If I had enough money, I'd help some poor young person get the education or training required for a better job." Or, "If money were no object, I'd pay for the digging of wells to bring clean water to poor villages in developing nations, or I'd provide food, clothing and shelter for people affected by natural or financial disasters."
It's easy to say what we would do if we had the money. The fact is, most of us don't have enough money to single-handedly carry out any of these charitable acts. However, we can add our pennies or dollars to those contributed by others and literally help provide education, medical services, clean water, food, clothing and shelter, and many forms of humanitarian relief to those in need.
Small or great, our contributions help the Church take care of the spiritual and temporal needs of members and others, whether through the building of meetinghouses, temples, seminary and institute buildings, or bishop's storehouses, or the distribution of humanitarian aid.
From Mark 12:41-44, we learn that the mites cast into the treasury by a poor widow are acceptable offerings to the Lord. And now we have the example of the mites cast by children pennies dropped into small buckets to show us that every little bit helps in building the Lord's kingdom.