This is a number everybody should know about in Christendom. We should know what it applies to. If you’ve been to church at least four times in your life, YOU should know what it applies to. And, if you have been one who has had his religious muscle trained from birth till now, you certainly have been one who understands the rigors and the expectations of “ten percent.”
Maybe you’re one of those that have been drilled Sunday after Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, that this number is the least and minimum expectation of servitude and loyalty. You might be one of those that quit going to church because you heard this number so much and there was no way under heaven that you were able to meet the demands so firmly placed on your shoulders. In fact, you may have even come close to fearing that if you didn’t meet those expectations, it might come to the point that the church would put a lien on your property.
You could be one of those who are able to meet this understood agreement with the church, and as such, you probably feel guilty if you don’t meet this requirement. In fact, you actually may even feel a sense of relief when you are able to satisfy this goal and fulfill the “obligation.” You might even breathe a long sigh as those who collect it walk by you. Yes, you most likely sit there—relieved that you’ve done your part (as if it were April 15, and you can go to sleep knowing the IRS is not coming after you.)
What if this number were the only number we lived by? What if it were the only requirement demanded of us? What if it was the numerical standard we were expected to satisfy all the time? Picture this:
You get married and you only have to take care of ten percent of your wife’s needs. She wants to buy furniture; you only have to give her ten percent of what it costs. He wants the house cleaned; you only clean ten percent of the house. The infant children need formula or milk, so you go to the store and buy ten percent of what they need. This same scenario could be used over and over in many different situations.
So, where does agape fit into any of this? Does agape have anything to do with ten percent? If we are only required in life to fulfill obligation and demand, then we can be justified in saying, “I did what was required of me.” Then, you reverently thank God for the day and go to sleep knowing you did what was asked of you. However, if agape takes the lead instead of rigidity and standard, how much better will life be for you and those around you? How much better will it be if each of us do more than ten percent.
I posed this question to several people recently, “If you were not required to meet the ten percent standard, how much would you contribute?” When agape is the center focus of your life, you do things differently. You do things out of a spirit of help and hope. When standards are what you live by, life becomes cold and calculated.
That’s what I think about it.