We’re all poor college students. Who can afford to give? If you work a job, then you feel like you’re barely cutting it. If you don’t work a job, you feel like it’s not your money anyway (because my parents made it all!) So seriously, don’t we earn a get-out-of-giving-free card in college? Maybe, maybe not.
First, let my demystify the myth: giving ten percent of our income is not optional. It is explicitly the expectation in the Old Testament. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus says “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrits! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.” Notice that Jesus simply assumes tithing as necessary, and criticizes them for not going far enough. The New Testament does not abolish tithing, but opens the threshold for more generous giving. Paul encourages the Corinthians and the Philippians to give incredibly generous amounts (2 cor. 8, Phil. 4). Why? Because we live in the era of the gospel. We have seen how richly God poured his love upon us in Christ, so we, being satisfied in heavenly things, richly pour our wealth out for others.
The question is never should I give. If the gospel is changing your life, you should have a deepening desire to give.
Second, financial giving is not the only way to give. For most of us we need to seriously seriously seriously consider giving at least a tenth of what we make, even of what our parents give us. But as college students we can also give our time.
For instance, maybe your commitment to serving in a ministry prevents you from keeping a part-time job. In that case, you might not decide to give, because you are trading wealth to serve. However, do not think that service always gets you out of giving. The Bible expects us to serve and tithe. But when you’re a full-time student, doing a part-time ministry job, you are not bringing in any income to tithe, so you should not feel guilty. When you get a full-time job, however, keep serving, and starting giving!