It’s so easy to take life for granted, and once we get into that habit, we start to assume that we have an inalienable right to be healthy, wealthy and happy. How can we prevent ourselves from slipping into that thinking?
When Moses was preparing the Israelites for their new life as peasant farmers in their own land, this was one of the factors that needed to be addressed. His proposal was to establish two points in the year for some deliberate thankfulness. These were not to be solemn occasions in which people were expected to grovel before God saying “I am not worthy.” Not at all. These moments of gratefulness were intended to be indulgent parties. Moses instructed: 'With money secure in hand, go to the place that God will choose; spend the money on whatever you wish - oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire. And eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your family rejoicing together.’
In so many Christian communities, the ‘tithe’ (a tenth of one’s income) is used as an intense fund-raising tool, as people are requested to make a substantial donation to their church. The line is: 'God gave you this money, now you must give 10% of it back.’ That is not what Moses was suggesting. Moses, in partnership with God, was calling for a massive and joyous feast. What parent would give their child a sum of money for their birthday, and immediately ask for a tenth of it back? Our heavenly father is not like that. He provides for us and asks that we devote at least a tenth of that provision to treating ourselves. God is not glorified by his people tightening their finances in submission to a religious law. He is glorified when his people loosen their proverbially tight belts and give themselves and each other a treat in his honour.
God is our heavenly father, not our heavenly tax inspector.