When Ten Percent Doesn’t Cut It

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Hello my friend.

I wanted to share some follow-up thoughts on our conversation from yesterday, specifically your comment about the ten percent. It bothered me at the time, but I couldn’t find the words to precisely express what I found so troubling. After meditating on your comment, I think I have an analogy which might help you. 

Before I get to that, I want to first express my respect and admiration for how you handle yourself, your affairs, and your business. I’m sure I’ve told you this before. I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to handle your life, even if I had an opinion (which I don’t). I have full confidence that you hear the Lord in all matters warranting your attention because your life proves it. I, for one, have been blessed by your generosity. 

This also means that I don’t have any direct experience with your situation. For me, it’s never been a question of a percentage: my tithe has always been my time and service, in place of any material wealth. I have always been a member of the working poor, and The Lord gives me only what I need, never more than that. Although many have not appreciated what I give (as they only understand blessings in terms of material wealth, a reflection of where their hearts lie), testing has proven that this is the Lord’s will for my life. 

Labor cannot truly be divided into percentages. You do the job until the job is done, or until you are relieved. Which brings me to what is troubling me. 

Is it appropriate to look upon our gifts in terms of percentages? I don’t believe so. 

Let’s say we were not talking about money, time or service. Instead, let us convert everything we could possibly offer in this life into property. Some of us have acres and acres of land, while others have only a thin strip, enough to support a shack at best. 

In your situation, I would approximate what you own to the equivalent of ten acres of land. It’s not a sprawling ranch of hundreds of acres, but it’s far more than a squatter with a tent. It’s ample, and you are thankful for it, as you should be. You stated that ninety percent of everything you own is given back to the service of God, while the remaining ten percent is yours to keep.

It does indeed sound reasonable. Your ninety percent contribution is far more than the ten percent many struggle to give while battling with a selfish heart.  

In this analogy, this would be like saying: 

“Lord, this is your land. You can do whatever you want with it; I give it back to you for your purposes. Regardless of what you choose, I stand ready to help you in accomplishing your goals in the use of this land. If you want to leave it undeveloped as pasture for your sheep, then consider it done. If you want me to build a barn to shelter them, I’ll grab the hammer and nails. If you want a house for your servants, I’ll build that too. I’ll develop the land however you want.”

“But this ten percent over here? This land is mine. You can come visit me whenever you like, but I want this section for me, developing it however I see fit. I think that’s more than reasonable. I’m giving you the majority, and I’m only asking for this small portion for myself.”

It does indeed sound reasonable. Your ninety percent contribution is far more than the ten percent many struggle to give while battling with a selfish heart. If this were all about church tithes and being charitable, then your ninety percent is more than ample evidence of an unselfish heart. 

There’s just one thing that bothers me when I use the above analogy.

If I were the enemy of your soul, prowling around like a roaring lion while looking for someone to devour, and I caught sight of you as my target, where would I try to catch you? 

Would it be on the ninety percent of land where He is?

Or would I crouch and wait until you were on the ten percent that is yours, where He may or may not be, since that land is yours and not His

When I give one hundred percent of my time and talents, He always gives me back what I need, often much more than the ten, or even ninety percent, I would be inclined to keep. As with loaves of bread and bundles of fish, He often multiplies what I give him, so that the sum total exceeds the hundred percent we started with.

Why, then, would I only give ninety percent, when giving one hundred percent results in a multiplication of value? Not just for myself, but for His purposes as well?

When you look at it this way, assigning a portion to the Lord, whether it is ten or ninety percent, just doesn’t cut it. 

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