I've heard a number of Christians talk about how they give and give to God but He doesn't seem to bless them. I've done that song and dance before at times and I think there are a few things going on here which we need to consider.
1. We are giving conditionally.
We want God to do something for us so we will pay 10% or we will give $100.00 in the offering. This is not a gift... it's a bribe and God doesn't accept bribes.
I realize there is a fine line here. We certainly do need to recognize that when we are obedient to God there consequences just like when we are disobedient. I for one would prefer to endure the consequences of being obedient to God as opposed to being disobedient.
However, if this is our primary motivation for giving as opposed to desiring to bring pleasure to God and others... I think there is a problem.
2. We are poor stewards.
We struggle because we are not good stewards. God gives to us and we do not use what He gives us wisely. We blow it on things we don't need rather than set it aside for emergencies or ... we might spend it on ourselves rather than pay a bill that is due. We refuse to sit down and budget our money. We have no idea of what is coming in or what is going out.
As painful and time consuming as it is, you must sit down and figure up your expenses as well as your income. You must figure out what bills need to be paid when. I have a calendar on my computer with all of our bills on it, including tithes and my CB pledge. I know the minimum amount of money that will be coming in for that week. Sometimes in the case of creditors you can change a due date by a few days or... you can arrange to pay the bill a week or two earlier if that will work out better for you. The point is, you must have an organized system in order to track your inflow and outflow each week.
3. We do not listen to the Holy Spirit.
We put in our $5.00 a week in the offering plate but that's it. If the Holy Spirit thumps our heart to give, we soothe our conscience by saying that we have already given. We see someone in need and feel compelled to give but we don't because we figure we already gave to the church and it is their job to take care of it.
Then we may go the other extreme. We start out by listening to the Holy Spirit. We feel prompted to give $25.00. Hm... that gives us a good feeling so we decide we are going to do more. Often times our heart is in the right place but the problem is, we're trying to do more than what God has asked us to do. If the Holy Spirit prompts you to give $25.00 and if you do, you won't have enough to pay the electric bill; you can be sure God will provide the means for you to still pay that electric bill on time. Really, do you really think God would tell you to give to Him and cause you to be late in regards to your obligations? Do you think that when we give as directed by the Holy Spirit we are not going to be able to pay our debts? Do you realize what we are implying about God when we have that sort of attitude?
However, what happens if God has told you to give $25.00 and you decide to give $100.00 instead? Isn't that just as disobedient as not giving anything? Disobedience is disobedience. In both of these scenarios we are not following the leading of the Holy Spirit in our giving. We are trying to do the leading. Oops...
Time and time again God has placed on my heart to give more than what I thought I could afford. When I stepped out in faith, everything was just fine. On the other hand, there have been times when I have given an amount because I thought I should or because it made me feel good. It seemed like a good idea. When I have done that, I have found myself floundering. We must learn to listen to the Holy Spirit.
I'd like to go to point number two for a moment. Stewardship. Keep your household account in order is vital but when you take a look at your financial picture, you may suddenly get an overwhelming sense of despair. We'd gotten sloppy in this respect when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. By 2010 things were a mess. Then in January 2011, I had to stop working. At the same time, we had just enrolled in a Financial Peace University class offered through my church. When we were supposed to write out a budget and attempt to balance it, I laughed. You see, we were facing a 60% loss of income, I couldn't go to work, my husband often has to work evenings and weekends as well as days and we knew that there would be short about $2,000.00 every month.
Yes, we prayed but we also realized that we had to be willing to not only allow God to teach us what to do... we had to roll up our sleeves and do it. Eighteen months later and $20,000.00 less in debt (no we did NOT file bankruptcy or have any debts discharged, we're paying them all), my husband and I have to say that when we handle finances God's way, He will help us. We also have to say that instead of having to cut back on giving... God has enabled us to give more.
When we give our tithes and offerings, let them be given in love, unconditionally... just like God gives to us.