Financial Faithfulness as a College Student
According to the most recent data on tithing, only 10-25% of Christians in the United States tithe. Per capita, Christians in the United States tithe 2.5% percent of their income, which is a lower amount than the amount given by Christians during the Great Depression. As a lifelong Christian (born and raised in the church), I was saddened when I read those statistics. They seem to suggest that American Christians today, who arguably have been blessed with more material wealth than any other time, do not want to honor God with their finances. After reading those statistics, I told myself that when I graduated college, had a job, and started adulting, I would make sure to tithe my money faithfully. Then I realized I was part of the problem. I had lapsed into thinking that since I was a poor college student without a real job, I was somehow exempt from tithing, and I was justified in waiting until I was financially secure before I started honoring God with my finances. In this article, I want to share with you the conviction I have about tithing, specifically as a relatively broke and jobless college student.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a tithe is “a tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution.” In the Old Testament, the law required the Israelites to tithe a specific portion of their wealth. Leviticus 27:32 says, “And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord.” Since the Israelites lived in an agricultural economy, they didn’t have a currency, so they used livestock instead. The New Testament doesn’t specifically say that Christians are required to give a tenth of their income as a tithe. Rather, 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The New Testament teaches that tithing shouldn’t been seen as a duty but rather a response of the heart.
Whether you believe strongly that Christians should tithe 10% of their income or that Christians must tithe out of their gross rather than net income, the purpose of this article is to encourage college students to tithe regularly, whether that is 5 or 50 percent. Here are a few compelling reasons why tithing as a college student is important.
For most college students, money is a scare commodity. Tuition, housing expenses, food, and many more items require all the money we have. Giving up any money that we have worked so hard for seems, at best, foolish and, at worst, dangerous. We shouldn’t see it that way. One of the reasons we should give a regular offering is that giving is one way we can honor God with our life. Giving regularly causes us to realize that we don’t own anything; everything we’ve “earned” has been given to us by God. Tithing is a good way to exercise trust in God. Anyone can trust God when things are going well and there is money in the bank account, but a true exercise of trust is giving when things aren’t going well and money is scarce. A Bible passage which speaks to this point is the story of the poor widow in Mark 12 who gave two coins. Jesus watched all the people who were tithing, and, when He saw this widow give two coins, He called his disciples over and said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” This story speaks to the heart of the matter; the widow exercised her faith by giving all that she had, because she trusted that God would provide for her in her time of need. What a powerful example to follow.
JBU’s mission is to provide a “Christ-centered education that prepares people to honor God and serve others by developing their intellectual, spiritual and professional lives.” Part of developing our spiritual lives is setting good spiritual habits. Regular giving is one of those habits. If college students don’t start giving now, there is no reason to think after college will be any different.
Establishing a regular giving habit is beneficial because it can help a college student be more diligent in managing his or her finances and be more involved in churches or ministries in the community. It’s one thing to be part of a church and to attend on Sundays; it’s entirely another matter to give regularly to a church at which you are a member. I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but I’d venture to say that college students who tithe their money are a lot more invested in the activity of their church than those who don’t.
I hope, after reading this article, you are inspired to honor God with your finances and tithe. Even if you don’t think you have a lot to give, remember the widow who gave two coins. It’s not about how much money you give or what church you’re giving to—giving is an issue of the heart. Tithing is about honoring God with the resources He has giving us. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If college students today can understand that message, how much more will we be able to impact the Kingdom of God down the road with our finances?
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of the Defendant or its staff members.