As a young man I often wondered about the importance of keeping the commandments of the Lord. For instance, I wondered if the Lord really needed my tithes since I earned so very little. I also found myself asking just how important it is to keep the Sabbath day holy. Of course, I later came to realize that He did not need either my obedience or my money nearly as much as I needed to follow those laws in order to receive the spiritual growth and blessings that come from obeying the Lord’s commandments.
At age 11, I attempted to obtain my first job delivering newspapers. I had just turned 11 and was an entire year away from the minimum age of 12 required for being a newspaper boy. It was difficult at first trying to convince the man that someone so young could really be an effective worker, but with the help of my dad, I talked him into letting me try.
The Lord really blessed me as a young man because I was able to effectively do that important job. It was an important job to me for I learned as a young man how to collect and be accountable for money, how to deal with different kinds of people, and how to sell newspaper subscriptions. A tenth of my income was always paid willingly to the Lord as tithing.
At 16, after delivering newspapers for five years, I was somewhat surprised when the manager of circulation asked me to be the assistant manager and supervise all the newspaper boys in the city. It was quite an honor because of my youth, and I remember how grateful I felt to the Lord. I saw it as a direct blessing from the Lord allowing me to grow and obtain additional development.
I worked as the assistant manager for about two years, and I will never forget the great challenge that then came to me. I had been paying my tithing regularly during that time and certainly believed in the principle, but I did not have as sure a witness of that principle as I was about to attain.
One Saturday afternoon after finishing work, the manager told me that starting a week from the following day, on Sunday, it would be necessary for me to work every Sunday morning. The manager was an inactive member of the Church at the time, and he knew that I was not going to react favorably to the suggestion. But he was quick to tell me that even though I would miss priesthood meeting and Sunday School, I could find some other way to attend meetings, and thus it would not be that serious. He then attempted to entice me by telling me that my pay would be increased by 30 percent, thinking that might change my feelings about the principle of working on Sunday.
I remember how strongly those words fell upon my heart, but I also remember my response: “I am quite certain that I cannot work on Sunday.”
“Well,” he said, “you will have to work on Sunday or I will find another assistant manager.”
I left the office rather sad that day. I remember asking the Lord why I should lose my job as a result of the Church. I had been working hard to save enough money to support myself on a mission, and now I was going to lose my job unless I were willing to work on Sunday.
I talked to my father to ask his counsel, and all he would tell me was, “I am sure you will do what is right, whatever that may be.” I was left to make my own decision. The feeling came over me that there was no way to resolve this matter except by finding out what the Lord would have me do.
The following Saturday I went in and announced to the manager that I would not work on Sunday. He informed me that since that was my choice, I would have one week and no longer as the assistant manager, and then I would be replaced by a young man who was “really willing to work.”
I left work that day feeling very unhappy realizing that in five or six days I would be without a job. In one more year I was to go on my mission, and I did not yet have sufficient funds to support myself. I prayed much that week.
The following days at work seemed very long, and there were few words spoken between my boss and me. I waited for the next Saturday, which was to be my last day.
Friday finally arrived. As I was finishing work that evening, the manager approached me and said, some what emotionally, “Gene, you are right in what you are doing, and I am wrong in asking you to work on Sunday. I have found a young man of another religion who is willing to work on Sunday, but I still want you to be my assistant manager. And that 30 percent pay increase will be given to you anyway, even though you will not be working the Sabbath day. You are a fine young man.”
I will never forget the feeling of gratitude that came over me at that moment. I will also never forget my feelings that month as I paid more than an honest tithe and faithfully fulfilled my responsibilities on Sunday.
The Lord will pour out the blessings of heaven upon a man, even a young man, and teach him in his heart both the value of paying tithing on that which he earns and the value of keeping the Sabbath day holy. At any price, the commandments of the Lord are worth keeping.