We Paid the Lord First
April 1994

“We Paid the Lord First,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 54

We Paid the Lord First

When my grandfather Robert Hazen went on his mission to England, he left behind a family of eight children. Grandpa’s carpentry had always provided for his growing family’s needs, but without him Grandma Etta and the children had to struggle to meet their expenses.

Of the children, only Mamie—who later became my mother—and her sisters, Ivy and Edna, were old enough to go to work. Every week they brought home their scant wages and planned with Grandma how to best spend them.

One night at the kitchen table, Grandma puzzled over the budget with her three oldest daughters. The money wasn’t stretching far enough! The rent was due, and they had no more flour in the house. No matter how they arranged the budget, they could barely afford to pay for food and shelter. But what about the family’s obligation to the Lord?

“Girls,” Grandma finally said, “after rent we have enough to either pay our tithing or buy a sack of flour. The little ones will be hungry. What should we do?”

“Pay the tithing, Ma,” Mamie whispered. “The Lord will provide.”

The next morning Grandma put on her shawl and walked a mile to the bishop’s house to pay the family’s tithing. When she returned home, she was surprised to see a big box on the front porch. It was full of groceries, including a sack of flour.

“Children, come quickly!” she called. As Grandma peered into the box, she noticed a note tucked inside. The children gathered around as Grandma read aloud.

“Sister Hazen,” the note began, “during the night I remembered that Robert did some carpentry for me before he went to England. I never paid him for that work.” Grandma’s voice faltered as she continued, “Perhaps groceries would help more than money.” The note was signed by a friend who owned a grocery store across town.

The sweet testimony my mother, Mamie, bore about this experience gave me a deep respect for the principle of tithing. Through her example and my own experiences, I have come to know that the Lord meant it when he said, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).

  • Afton Reid Luker is a Relief Society teacher in the Twenty-ninth Ward, Salt Lake Riverside Stake.