The ‘tithe’ that binds: Students should give regularly to church

One of the most concise and clearly laid out disciplines in the Bible is the practice of tithing. It’s mentioned throughout the Gospel as an integral part of worship. It’s outlined in parables and stories the disciples recount in their respective books. It’s something not necessarily controversial about church life because, as a body of believers, it’s understood that tithing is an important part of honoring the Lord.

For anyone who grew up going to church with their parents, tithing was most likely a discipline they witnessed every Sunday. It would go something like this: 10 percent of the family income went into the offering as the wicker bowl went by, siblings fought over who gets to dump the check and mom would shake her head at the quarrel. Nevertheless, the check got there.

But as students move away from parents and begin to understand that biblical commands reach outside the constraints of family units, many start to think tithing does not apply to them. The phrase, “I don’t have to tithe because I’m a student,” is all too frequently heard among the younger congregation.

However, nowhere in the Bible does it say we get a student discount.

While it’s understood that students have considerably less money coming in than their parents, the command to give remains the same in Scripture. Rich or poor, giving what we have is a practice every Christian is expected to uphold.

The story of the widow’s offering is told in Luke 21:1-4. In this short passage, Jesus commends the act of a widow who gives all she has to the temple treasury. She is contrasted with the rich who are said to give out of their surplus — that which they can “afford” to give to the church. Jesus states to the crowd, “This poor widow has put in more than all the others,” even though she only gave two very small copper coins.

Oftentimes, we don’t see all it takes to run a church. Just like any operation, it takes funds to keep it going. Paying salaries for church staff, maintenance for the building and funds for ministry all require money. This is what our tithes go toward.

More than those tangible allocations, tithing is a way for us to recognize money does not own us. It is not our purpose on this earth to hold onto money in fear we will fail without it. By giving of our earnings, we are able to say we trust the Lord will provide, despite the 10 percent deficit.

Tithing should be seen as a part of that worship, not just a motion we have to go through or something to hide from. Just as we worship by song or sermon, we place our faith in the Lord by giving our possessions to the body of Christ in order to honor Him.