Paid in Full

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“Paid in Full,” New Era, Jan. 1998, 49

Paid in Full

I had put myself in a tough spot: pay a full tithe or go to college. I had heard about the blessings of tithing. But did I qualify?

From the time I received the first birthday dollar from my grandmother I was taught to save one dime to return to the Lord as tithing. Tithing settlements were something I always looked forward to. I loved to watch the bishop put a check mark by the words “full-tithe payer” and know that the Lord was pleased with me.

I’d never held much of a job growing up, and most of my income came from baby-sitting. I kept my tithing in a separate envelope until I remembered to take it to church. Often six months worth of tithing went with me to tithing settlement.

When I got my first job after high school, I decided to open a checking account so that I would have easier access to my money. Unfortunately, I didn’t open a savings account for my tithing, and I hadn’t formed the habit of paying it on a monthly basis. But I lived at home and spent very little money, so I didn’t worry much about it.

I loved working as a nurses’ aide at the local hospital, and by the first of December I decided to apply for admission to the nearby junior college. I counted what I had in the bank and was excited to confirm that I had enough money for housing and tuition for the next three semesters if I finished working the rest of the month.

So I went to the college, made a down payment for my housing, and paid my tuition. The rest of the housing money was due when I started school the first week of January.

It was then that I realized I had forgotten to take into account the tithing that was outstanding when I balanced my books. What was I going to do?

When my tithing settlement appointment came, I was still unsure how I would handle my situation. It was the first settlement I had attended without my family, and as I sat waiting for my turn, I was tempted for the first time in my life to not pay a full tithe. After all, I reasoned, I’d always paid a full tithe before. What would just this one year matter? Besides, I could always make it up during next year. And my family wouldn’t be there to hear me pronounce the words “part-tithe payer.”

All the stories I’d ever heard about people paying their tithing and still being able to meet bills came to my mind. But they don’t apply to me, I thought. I’m in this situation because I put myself here. I just simply have to choose. Do I want to pay a full tithe, or do I want to go to college?

I still wasn’t sure until the bishop looked me in the eye and asked, “Does this amount represent a full tithe?”

“It doesn’t now, but it will,” I answered as I took out my checkbook and wrote a check for the 80 dollars I owed. Peace flooded over me, and I knew I had made the right choice.

After praying about my situation, I decided to go ahead with my plans for college. I went to the housing office, and I was given a two-week extension. Then I went looking for a job. I found one in the cafeteria, but I wouldn’t be paid in time to meet my obligation.

On the last day of the extension I went to the mailbox and found a check made out to me from the hospital. It was for 90 dollars for the accrued sick and personal-leave days I had not taken. I had no idea it was coming. I now had enough for my tithing and the 80 dollars I owed at the housing office.

This time I paid my tithing first.

Illustrated by Bryan Lee Shaw