Through Moses, God liberated Israel from slavery in Egypt. As Israel entered the “Promised Land,” God said, “I gave you life, I set you free, I gave you this land. At the end of each year, give away the first fruits of all the produce of the land, the first 10%. Do that and you will learn more and more about who I am and how much I love you and this whole world” (to paraphrase Deuteronomy 14).
This is where these ABCs of giving come from. It was taught to me like this: 10-10-80. All you have and all you are is 100% God’s. So give away 10%, save 10% (or use 10% to reduce debt), and live on 80%. This way, all your money serves God and you receive more of the freedom and joy God wants for you.
Sara (my wife) and I practice “first fruits” tithing. I say so not to make myself a big deal but so you know, I practice what I preach. And it is possible. I’m by no means the only St. Paul person who tithes.
St. Paul as a congregation practices first fruits tithing for the “Listen, God is Calling” campaign, giving away $1,000 of every $10,000 received. For regular giving, St. Paul is wrestling: trying to both tithe and invest in staff to grow the church. Having fully tithed in the past, right now this year, we’ve given away between 6% and 7%. I expect the final year end percentage will be higher, but not fully 10%.
Giving is not God’s secret get-rich scheme, as many teach. It’s God’s lead-us-home scheme. To a “Promised Land” of freedom, hope, and rest, where all enjoy being and having enough and the greater gifts of God, each other, and our true selves.
Saint Paul Lutheran Church
715 South Third Street
Clinton, IA 52732
(at the foot of the south bridge)