Years ago, our family purchased some land in beautiful Cache Valley, Utah. We called it the “farm.” We had always lived in large cities, so the thought of spending a part of each summer at the farm seemed very exciting. In a family home evening, we talked about things we wanted to do at the farm. We decided that every family member should have cowboy boots. We agreed, however, that all of the children would earn the money to pay for their own boots by doing chores.
One Saturday morning, our six-year-old son, Paul, happily announced at breakfast that he had completed all of his chores. He had enough money to buy the boots he had seen at the western store. He was the first child to earn enough money, and he was very proud. “Can we go to the store today, Dad?” he asked.
Paul had been taught about tithing as early as he could understand how to count money. I asked if he had paid his tithing on the money he had earned. His hands began to shake, and his face turned white. He had not returned to the Lord His share as tithing. Paul’s disappointment in thinking he might have to wait was very great.
He had often paid tithing. He understood tithing, but it never occurred to him that Heavenly Father would expect him to share his precious boot money. I think I even saw a tear in his eye.
I did not tell Paul what he must do. He already knew what Heavenly Father expected. I simply waited for him to choose the right. After a long pause, he asked for more chores so that he could be honest with the Lord before he bought his boots. It was another week before the new assignments were completed and the boots could be bought.
After deciding to share his boot money with Heavenly Father, Paul had learned forever to pay his tithing.
Some lessons we have to learn only once.
My father also taught me a great lesson about tithing. For many years, we worked together at the same office. We traveled to work together in the car—a father and three sons. It gave us a chance to stay close and talk about the gospel. When we arrived at the office, our father always made certain that each of us began the day by reading the scriptures.
One day as we were traveling home, he surprised us with these words: “My sons, I paid my tithing today. I wrote ‘thank you’ on the tithing check. I am so grateful to the Lord for the blessings he has given to our family.” As sons, we were grateful for a father who not only taught us how to obey, but also that there is great joy in keeping the commandments. Many times while paying my own tithing, I have remembered my father and followed his example by adding the words thank you to the tithing check.
At the very beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us that he was “born of goodly parents” (1 Ne. 1:1). “Goodly parents” means good parents who set an example in keeping the commandments of God. My parents were very good. I hope I have been as good an example to my children.
We can learn about tithing at home. This is where we are taught that Heavenly Father expects us, even as children, to share our boot money. He has given us all things, so we ought to be very grateful when we return to Him an honest tithing.