Summoning the Absolute Best

It’s just not possible, is it?

There’s no way we can give 110 percent—of anything, to anything.  Still, that’s never stopped coaches, teachers, bosses, and other performance-driven motivators from asking for it.  “Give me 110 percent!” they’ll holler, as a way of encouraging us to try harder, dig deeper, push further, and stretch farther than we believe we’re capable of trying, digging, pushing, and stretching.  To ask for 110 percent is to summon the absolute best someone has to offer.

But still.  It’s just not possible to give 110 percent.  So why is the Stewardship Committee asking for 110 percent from us on Sunday, October 27?  Well, the reason is really pretty simple: The Lord wants our best—and the Stewardship Committee’s mission is to help us learn how to give it.

So: 110 percent.  What does that mean?  Let’s break it down.

One hundred percent attendance.  What would it feel like for the entire Providence church family to come together for worship in the same place at the same time?  What would it look like to have every pew in the Sanctuary filled?  What would it sound like for a Sanctuary full of Providence people to lift their voices together in song and praise?  I’d like to find out.  Maybe you’d like to find out as well.

Sunday, October 27 is the day we’re going to try.  Mark it on your calendar.  Commit to being here.  Make it a priority to get yourself to Providence on this particular day for Sunday School and worship with your church family.  Reach out to people you haven’t seen here in a while and invite them to come with you.  I’ve already checked: The Panthers are away that Sunday and on the west coast, which means that kickoff isn’t until 4:05pm.  That means football won’t get in the way. Be here.  All in.  Let’s make the effort to be at our best for the glory of God on October 27.

Ten percent giving. That’s the Old Testament standard for what the Lord expects His people to give as an offering to Him.  (See, for example, Leviticus 27:30 and Malachi 3:10.)  For a lot of us, giving ten percent of our income—even for the rock-solid good purpose of supporting the Lord’s work in this world—feels like too much of a stretch.  Even if we wanted to make this kind of offering (which the Bible calls a tithe) we’re not at all confident that we could make this kind of offering and still be able to pay the bills and cover our many other regular expenses.

So let’s try it for a week.

Let’s each give ten percent of one week’s income as our offering to God on Sunday, October 27.  How does it work?  Here’s the simplest way to arrive at the right number.  Take your annual income (look at last year’s tax return if that will help) and divide it by 52.  Then multiply that number by 0.1 and there you have it: a tithe on one week’s income.

Think of it as a week-long experiment—a first step, maybe—in cultivating generosity by nurturing your trust in God’s ability and willingness to provide for your needs.  Find out for yourself what it feels like to give a tithe to the Lord for a week.  Specifically, find out for yourself: How does it affect your finances?  Does it require more or less of a stretch than you expected?

Giving what the Lord expects from us does not come naturally to us.  We have to make an effort to learn it as a habit—but we begin by doing it once and discovering that it can, indeed, be done.  That’s the first step: Going from “that’s impossible” to “that’s doable,” because once we’ve done it, it’s no longer impossible.   

I had to take Algebra I twice, so check my math here.  One hundred percent attendance plus ten percent giving equals … 110% Sunday.  It’s on the calendar for October 27 and has the potential to be not only a fun day, but an important day in the life of Providence.

We can do this together—and, in the process, become stronger, more encouraged, and more confident in God’s ability to give us what we need in order to do what He asks.   

May the peace of Christ be with you!