You’re in church, maybe on a Sunday or Wednesday. The offering plate is making its rounds throughout the service. It gets to you. You have nothing to put in it.
In this moment, it is easy to feel self-conscious, or that someone else might be judging you. Rest assured, the only One whose judgment actually matters will not fault you for this.
In the Old Testament, followers of God were commanded to give 10% of their acquired wealth every year in a process called “tithing.” This was religious law, and some Christian churches still erroneously teach it today.
The fact of the matter is Christians are no longer held to the practice of tithing since Jesus appeared on the scene. We are compelled, as members of the faith, to simply give from our hearts and to whatever degree we are able to.
What that means to a college student isn’t a black and white matter. No person is qualified to tell another person, especially someone in such a precarious financial position as college often brings about, what their exact contribution to their church or their community will look like. Here’s what the Bible can tell us about giving:
We must give without expectation of acknowledgment.
Matthew 6:3-4 reads, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
We should not give for the attention. It should never be about us as individuals..
Be cheerful to give, and choose causes that matter to you.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” reads 2 Corinthians 9:7.
It’s easy to get riled up when a pastor is talking about a vision for a new building, program or the like. You alone make the choice of what to give. It is hard to be cheerful about giving to something that you were pressured into.
It isn’t about the numbers; it is about the spirit.
Consider the following excerpt, composed of Mark 12:41-44:
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus 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.’”
I don’t interpret this to read that we should all literally give until we have no money for daily living – maybe you do interpret it that way – but rather I feel this speaks to the point that our contributions should be significant to us and our standing, and that exact dollar amount aren’t the focus of giving.
We cannot ignore poverty.
Proverbs 28:27 directly reads, “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.”
This particular verse is as cut and dry as it could be. We have an absolute obligation to help those that live in poverty.
Giving doesn’t have to be actual currency.
Luke 3:11 reads, “John answered, ‘Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.’”
This is a beautiful example of focusing on intent. Maybe you can’t financially assist the needy, but do you have spare food? Do you have spare time? Addressing needs doesn’t always take USD.