One of the most intense job experiences of my life was working for UPS in Dallas, Texas the first two years I was in seminary. It was a nighttime shift from about 6:00-10:00, loading outbound trucks to other states. Though that was probably at the time of my peak health and fitness, I always said that the company only had part-time jobs for this task, because you would drop over before you got to eight hours of doing what we did.
The company started you out by loading trucks (in the heat!), teaching you how to do it just right. They constantly counted everything you did and tracked it in charts they would show you once in a while. When beginning, there was a certain number of boxes you should load in an hour (counting what you did in three minutes and multiplying by 20). As time went by, you were to get better, for which you were paid more.
Later, you might be moved to a “secondary sort” by picking boxes off a conveyor belt and funneling them to one of four or five trucks. If you did well with that, you got to work on the “primary sort” aisle, picking packages and sending them on one of seven belts that went to the pick-off guy, who sent them to the loaders on the trucks. It was a lot of memorizing zip codes, many of which I recall to this day.
With more responsibility came more accountability and expectations … and better pay as well. It was essentially the shipping world’s equivalent of a biblical principle stated by Jesus in Luke 12:48. In the context of teaching about diligent service and watchfulness, and using a parable about faithful stewardship when the master is away, Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
We should see our time, talents and treasures as resources given to us by the Lord — the ultimate Master — to be used as a stewardship. And in terms of our giving, the fourth principle that rises from our 1 Corinthians 16 passage is that giving is to be proportionate by prosperity.
From the text it says … each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Paul never gives a number or a percentage that should guide giving. Tithing is an Old Testament concept that is difficult to apply in exact science to New Testament giving. We should strive to be generous, even happily so, recognizing how we are so blessed on the receiving end.
I have always promoted with people that tithing is a worthy goal to work toward early in life, family and career … to establish it early as a baseline financial discipline. For those with greatest need, this is a difficult goal; for those with the greater blessings of resources, mere tithing could be the definition of falling quite short of being generous toward God as a faithful steward of what HE has prospered a person with.
But you all get the idea. As you are beginning in life and careers and so on, times may be tougher; but later when blessings are greater and multiplied, more can likely be done.
I have often said this: In my years of ministry experience, I am yet to find any person who has ever said that they regret what they gave to the Lord. Be generous; you simply can’t go wrong.