I struggle understanding why tithing for some people is so hard. God said He would always provide. So as a child, I'd tithe, and even now when I have procrastinated on my giving and the check has turned out to be enough to afford another month of rent, with a sad wallet and even sadder bank account, I'd do it anyway. It's a non-negotiable for me. I could adjust anything else on my budget but tithing had to stay. Now don't get me wrong, as a kid I'd see my friends around me pull out handfuls of change or dollar bills to place into the basket as it tumbled through the pews, I just thought they were crazy and that giving that way was pointless. Shouldn't you actually be aware of how much you're giving God and not just throwing in random numbers? Isn't tithing supposed to be an act of worship?
I see it as a thank you letter. In this case, the thank you letter my first elementary classroom gave me. Stepping into the classroom halfway through the school year, my fifth graders were very thankful to have a new teacher willing to take on the job. I saw them passing notes that first day of class, but decided to look away and pretend I didn't see. Why? Because I noticed they were writing letters. At recess time, my children presented me with 3 hand-written letters welcoming me to their class and thanking me for being there for them. They had drawings and rhinestones! One even had a Legacy Loot (their classroom money), a scented marker (for grading), and a real $1 bill.
I never asked for money, or for anything really, but the kids gave me these gifts anyways.
They did, because they were thankful.
That moment I learned more from my students, than I could probably ever teach them. They showed me what God wants from us. He's not asking for our money cause He needs it. God doesn't need our money. He asks for cheerful givers. Not givers who feel obligated, but givers who are happy to give their money because they're so full of gratitude! The same way my students excitedly presented their letters and precious dollar bill because they were thankful.
God blesses us with so much! Our problem is we think that what we are given is ours. We think that every penny we "earn" is ours, and ours alone, without realizing that God was the one who provided that job and continues to provide for us every single day. Our time, talents, finances, bodies, everything is His. When we look at our lives that way, I just wish I could give God back more! That I could give Him everything I earn and live in His love alone. But life doesn't work that way. We need money to pay bills, have food to eat. Everything revolves around money in our culture. It's almost impossible to spend time with other people without something costing money: internet, coffee, gas. Maybe we don't struggle with the "love of money" but I sure LOVE the freedom that comes with having money!
I'll be the first to admit that lot's of times I don't tithe in thankfulness. Many times I tithe in pure selfishness! because God promises to bless us:
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,
that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,”
says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not
throw open the floodgates
of heaven and pour out so much blessing
that there will not be room enough to store it."
But my goal is to let tithing become an act of worship. Being aware of what I am offering back to Him--learning to give back to God out of gratitude and not just for His blessings. He will bless us, and He will provide. But our tithes should be like thank-you letters. We don't write thank-you letters because we hope that person will give us more next time, but because we are thankful for what they have done, whether or not it will happen again.