Many years ago, we tried an experiment with our older two kids. Our poor kids have endured a lot of experiments, but this was one we thought they would enjoy: We gave them their own spending money for the month.
Twenty dollars each! For two elementary school kids who had never received an allowance before, this felt like hitting the jackpot!
We told them they could spend the money however they liked, then we sat back and watched. We had hoped that various teachable moments would emerged, and we weren’t disappointed.
One child spent all of his money on a toy the first day of the month, then had no money to participate when our family stopped for ice cream or went bowling. So we got to talk about budgeting, planning for the future, and impulsive spending.
Our other child turned down a birthday party invitation, because she didn’t want to ‘waste’ her money on a gift. So we got to talk about being generous, and the value of relationships.
These sorts of conversations, we had anticipated. But then came a conversation on a certain Sunday morning.
When Ken told the kids to go get some of their money for the offering at church, our son whined, “Wait, we have to use our money for that now?” The look on his face did not resemble a cheerful giver.
Ken reminded the kids that tithing is an opportunity to remember God, and keep him first. But the reminder fell on deaf ears. As our son trudged up the stairs to gather a rumpled dollar bill, he grumbled, “This whole money thing makes me feel like I have no parents.”
Ken and I turned at looked at each other, chuckling at the irony. For at that very moment, Ken was wiping up the cereal our little boy had spilled as he ate breakfast, and I was poised with a spray bottle and brush–ready to tidy his hair. We certainly weren’t feeling like the kid had no parents!
I wonder if God notices the irony, when he watches me trudge off to gather what I will give him for the day. On a Sunday morning, when I’m begrudging the time I’ll spend serving at church. Or on Monday morning, when I’m inwardly groaning about all I have to complete that week. Or on a random Thursday afternoon, when I’m grumbling about serving my family or submitting to my husband or sharing what I have with others…
Just like my son’s response to tithing, when I grumble about what I’m asked to give, I’m ultimately making allegations about God. I’m saying that he hasn’t given me enough, or that he’s asked too much. I’m complaining that he hasn’t taken care of me well–that I’m like a kid with no parents.
And this is quite ironic, because God is like five dozen parents, poised to meet my various needs! From the moment the first sun rays splash over my horizon, till the moment that I draw my feet into a cozy bed, He is providing for me.
I am more dependent on God, and more supplied by Him than an unborn baby, connected to his mother by an umbilical chord. What he provides (my ‘allowance’) might vary, but every bit that I ever have to spend is from my heavenly Father.
So, this is what I must keep in mind, when he calls upon me to give a little back–to my family, my church, my community, and ultimately to Him.