Thinking about money can be uncomfortable. But since the Old Testament Israelites were commanded to tithe (Leviticus 27:30), giving it away has been an integral part of the Christian life.
We believe that Christian generosity is wider than giving money – it comes in many shapes and forms. It’s more than financial giving – but it’s not less than that. As a student, you are in a unique period of your life. The money you live on could come from a loan, from your family, or from your own careful savings and earnings. It could even come from a hard-won scholarship. Not being someone who lives on a regular salary can feel like a good reason to write off the possibility of giving to the work of the gospel. As a Christian student at the university where God has placed you, however, we believe that giving is still a joyful, powerful, and essential part of faithfulness to Jesus. Here are five reasons why.
5 reasons why giving is crucial
1. Giving is an important expression of our worship to God.
‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.’ (Romans 12:1).
Being a Christian is surrendering your whole life to God, to do with what he pleases – including your money. Giving is a manifestation of self-sacrifice, ‘holy and pleasing to God … true and proper worship’.
2. Giving is an important expression of our trust in God.
‘So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matthew 6:31-33)
By blessing us with money, God gives us some protection from disaster. While that is a wonderful thing, giving requires us to let go of money as our ultimate security. It’s a declaration of our trust that God will provide, even if we don’t hoard huge sums to bolster our own sense of protection. Giving acknowledges that God, not money, is ultimately what keeps us safe and flourishing – even if that means only an ultimate safety and flourishing in heaven.
3. Giving is an important expression of our love for God.
‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ (Matthew 6:21)
Where is your treasure? Where is your heart looking to? What are you willing to make sacrifices for? These searching questions illustrate the power of money – to reveal our true affections. By letting go of our wealth and giving it to God, we declare that we treasure him, that he is the most precious thing to us – more precious than anything money can buy.
4. Giving is an important expression of the urgency of the gospel.
‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.’ (Ephesians 5:15-16)
From a more pragmatic point of view, we can look at the world around us and see so much need – physical and spiritual. Eighteenth-century revivalist John Welsey famously identified money as
‘an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father for the fatherless; we may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death.’
If we really understand how urgent it is that people encounter God and gain eternal life, we will be more ready to let go of our wealth to support the Lord’s work to share Christ’s love and proclaim his gospel.
5. Giving is an important expression of our belonging with God’s people.
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. (Acts 4:34-35)
In several places in the New Testament, including this account of the believers in Jerusalem following Pentecost, and Paul’s collection for the churches in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15), we find startling accounts of solidarity demonstrated in the early church – even to the point of selling property to provide for the needy. This was noted by none other than fourth-century Roman Emperor Julian, who wrote that
‘It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.’
Such a remarkable demonstration of mutual belonging that overflows into the surrounding brokenness – not escaping the indignant notice of authorities – is what the giving of God’s people can achieve.
Giving in a student context
‘Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Start the good habit of giving when you are young, when you can’t give much, when your adult life is beginning. When you’re supported by your loan or your family or your scholarship, demonstrate your thankfulness by giving some of God’s provision back to him. When you’re earning the money you need to go to university, demonstrate your freedom to give some away.
Your money might not be your own as a student – but throughout your life, you will only ever be God’s steward of your money. Your money may not be abundant, but it has always belonged to him.
What should I do next?
Even beginning with a small gift, the radical act of giving says loud and clear that God is your God, not money. So who should you give to?
- Ensure that your family’s needs are provided for (Mark 7:0-11, 1 Timothy 5:8)
- Give to your church, who will be encouraged and strengthened by your gift (1 Corinthians 9)
- Give to other local needs – including perhaps your local student group or national movement. (Matthew 25:44)
- Give to other needs around the world that God leads you.
We would love you to prayerfully consider giving to the IFES Global Generosity Day campaign, on 6 April 2022. (Due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, we have decided to postpone Global Generosity Day 2022, from 9 March to 6 April.) Pray with us for 200 donors will step forward, with even the smallest gift, to express solidarity with students around the world. Global Generosity Day will enable ten projects all around the world aiming to plant new student groups in new places, disciple and equip students for evangelism and leadership, and equip graduates for a lifetime of living out the gospel. You can join in with a gift to help make it happen—read more here.
You can read more about how to take initiative with your giving here.
However you decide to give, we are praying that the Holy Spirit would revive a radically sacrificial and generous spirit in our finances, as well as in all the other parts of our lives. We want this ethos to infuse every part of our fellowship. We are praying that God would make us ‘a people that are his very own, eager to do good.’ (Titus 2:14).