It was a familiar scene that would play out over and over again during the years that I was teaching. A child would quietly slip something into my hand. Usually it was a picture they had labored over though occasionally it might be a flower they'd found outside, a pretty stone, a cookie from their lunch, etc.
Their motive was always quite clear. They weren't looking for anything in return. I was their teacher and they simply wanted to give me something. I loved how their faces would light up as I wrapped my arms around them, gave them a hug and put their gift in a prominent place.
I understood the feeling. I also delighted in doing little things for them that would bring a smile to their little faces. Something as simple as a word of praise or a small sticker could transform a seven year old's day.
Let me ask you this question. If we give in order to receive are we really giving? I don't think so. We are simply attempting to do an exchange. "If you do this... I'll do this" or "If I do this for you, then you must do this for me."
I am wondering, how is this any different from people giving tithes and offerings for the sole purpose of receiving the blessing of God? I don't think there is a difference. While it's true that the Bible does talk about God blessing the those who give, it also talks about God rejecting the "gifts" of some people. This means there is more to giving them simply well... giving.
Let's pretend it is your birthday. A guest at your party walks up to you and hands you a beautifully wrapped gift. As you start to unwrap it they say, "I really did not want to give you this gift. In fact, I don't want to give you a gift at all. However, since I was coming to your party, I knew that I was supposed to bring a gift. Then I thought that if I give you a gift, then I will get a gift from you when it is my birthday next week. When you go shopping for my gift, please remember that I got you a really expensive and great gift and buy accordingly."
How would this make you feel? Would you even want a gift from this person if they had that sort of attitude? Probably not. So why do we try to do this to God?
When we give to the Lord, when we do things in His name, let us do so out of love, rather than obligation or because we want something in return. Let it be simply because we love God and it is our desire to bring a smile to His face.