Our small group has been discussing how we honor God with all of our money in a study called Balanced. Our entire church is working through the study together, so our sermons have also covered the topics we are discussing. As each family gains insight for their particular household, one questions continues to surface: What is the correct percentage to give? The Bible speaks of many levels of giving: the Israelites who provide for the upkeep of the tabernacle and its servants (10% - the traditional tithe), a poor woman who gives her last coin (100%), and a rich farmer who foolishly plans to store up all of his extra grain for himself (?% - but it wasn't all for him). What is the exact amount we should give back to God?
At the same time, Lee is learning how to play peek-a-boo. He understands that he is supposed to put something on his face, we ask "Where is Lee?", and he removes the item for smiles and cheering and an exclamation of, "Peek-a-boo!" Sometimes, he does not cover up his face completely; in fact, I can see both eyes staring out at me!
At first, I thought this was a lazy form of playing, but then it dawned on me that Lee does not understand the meaning of the game - that he hides, and we find him. That we are excited when we find him. When Lee begins to understand why we play peek-a-boo, the game is going to be much more fun for him. He will probably want to play it all the time.
When we first begin to give our money back to God, we often do it because we have seen how the "game" is played, but we do not understand why we play it. When I first graduated from college, I had no extra money once I paid my bills, and I had to charge my gas and groceries (which leads us into another discussion on debt, but that is a posting for another day). I literally did not have money in the bank to give. Was God so concerned with whether I gave 1% or 10%? No, but I was. I could not enjoy my giving, because I always felt guilty that I was not giving enough.
Perhaps the best way to determine the giving percentage is to pray. Ask the Lord to show us the amount for our family to give in light of the whole of His teaching about money and our particular circumstances. Ask Him to help us give that joyfully. Plan accordingly. Then, just start playing the game. I bet it won't be too long before you start to understand the why, and then you will want to play it all the time!