It had been hard work cleaning up the yard, and it had taken me most of the morning to finish the job. After I put the rake away, Dad gave me the dollar that we had agreed on before I started to work.
I sat down in the shade of an apricot tree and looked at the finely etched lines that made up the face of George Washington on the dollar bill. I couldn’t imagine anybody drawing such a fine picture. The bill had that funny smell of money, and holding the dollar close to my face, I could see the colored threads in the paper.
A whole dollar! I thought. My dollar! One that I earned. I have a dollar to do with as I please. Then the thought came to me that I owed tithing on it. I felt a little bit ashamed of myself because I didn’t have a giving and happy feeling about paying my tithing. Instead, I tried to convince myself that the dollar was all mine because I had earned it.
If I paid my tithing, I would have only ninety cents left. Besides, Jesus wouldn’t miss ten cents. How could He? This is His world, and He can have anything He wants. That thought made me feel better.
As far as I was concerned, I had solved my problem about paying tithing, and I lay back on the grass to relax. The warm day seemed just right under the shade of the tree, and I watched the sun through the fluttering leaves.
The dollar was still on my mind. There were so many things I could buy. A chocolate candy bar with nuts would taste good. I could almost see the almonds making lumps in the smooth surface of the bar. Or I could get a butterfly yo-yo—they’re the best kind. Or maybe there was a movie in town I’d like to see. I’d have to look in the newspaper to see if anything looked good.
Then tithing popped into my head again. I knew that only ninety cents was really mine and that ten cents was the Lord’s, but I still wasn’t happy about it. Then I had a new thought: How does Jesus get the money?
This new thought stayed in my mind, and I mapped out a plan. I would pay tithing on my dollar and then watch the bishop to see how he gave it to Jesus. I could hardly wait for Sunday morning to come.
My father helped me fill out the receipt that went into the tithing envelope. He was so happy that I was paying tithing that it made me feel bad because I knew my reason for paying it was not the right one. But I was paying tithing.
Finally Sunday came. I decided I’d give my tithing to the bishop after Primary when he was in his office. I figured that that must be where he gave the money to the Lord.
The bishop was glad I was paying tithing and said that the Lord would bless me for it.
After the bishop thanked me, he turned and gave the envelope with my tithing in it to the ward clerk. I could hardly believe my eyes when the clerk opened my envelope. I just stood there. Is he going to give my money to the Lord? I wondered. I guess the bishop saw my look of dismay because he asked me if anything was wrong.
“How does Jesus get the money?” I asked. He must have thought that was a funny question because he laughed a little, then stopped. He said, “Jesus doesn’t come personally to get the money. It’s sent to Church headquarters to help with missionary work, with the building of temples and meetinghouses, with genealogy work, and with other necessary things. For instance, some tithing money is used to help pay for the operation of our meetinghouse.”
The bishop took me by the hand, and we walked through the building. At different places he stopped and asked me how much I thought certain things cost, such as chalkboards in the classrooms. He pointed out how much carpet there was in the building and how many chairs and tables and things. By the time we were through, I had a good idea that it takes a lot of money to run a meetinghouse. The bishop pointed out that repairs and upkeep are expensive too. Then he said, “You know, because I pay my tithing, I feel like I own a tiny part of our meetinghouse—and any other meetinghouse or temple I go to. It’s a good feeling.”
As I walked home from church I thought, Maybe tithing is a good thing. I felt proud that I was helping to do good with my tithing, even though I still felt a little disappointed that I had not seen the Lord.
But I didn’t think much more about it that day. Monday was coming, and I had ninety cents to spend.