Tithing as a poor widow (or student)

If you are a committed member of a church body, it’s most often expected that you tithe.

And to be honest, sometimes that expectation is off-putting. If you’re a college student struggling to make ends meet, the idea of relinquishing your hard-earned, needed pennies is daunting. Perhaps that’s where the difficulty begins, with a perspective that labels tithing as a burden, when in reality it is a beautiful opportunity to step out in faith. 

Does this mean that you should give all of your money, belongings and resources away right now? It depends. If you’re still reading to find a concrete answer for how much to tithe, when to tithe, whether you can substitute time spent serving for tithing or if your student loans excuse you from tithing altogether, this article isn’t necessarily the place to look. I’m aware that this statement doesn’t exactly help a student in their decision-making process, but it does raise an important point: Tithing in a New Testament world is a matter of Christian responsibility, context, conscience and faith.

During my childhood, my family walked through several difficult years when we prayed daily that the Lord would provide money. My mom would softly pray, “God, please let someone leave money on our doorstep.” God answered. 

Numerous times we found resources left on our doorstep, just in the manner my mother had prayed for. On other occasions, my parents acted as an extension of Christ and became an answer to similar prayers prayed by friends around them, even during those seasons when we experienced financial instability. We learned as a family — through hardship, difficult decisions and even feelings of guilt — to depend upon Christ and to entrust all that we steward to him.

The New Testament emphasizes a complete dependence upon God and an understanding that none of our earthly belongings are actually ours. It also outlines a need to provide for widows and those less fortunate than ourselves (1 Timothy 5:3-16; James 1:27). “Our” belongings, bodies, time, resources, expectations and giftings are his to do with as he wishes because we (as Christians) are not our own. All you have is already his; you’re just stepping out in faith to physically give back and trust that he will provide. Your offering — whether it be time, funds, resources, etc. — is important because God asks it of you.

If you feel the urge and leading to give your heavenly Father a portion of your income, no matter how small (or large, for that matter), please obey that conviction. Every cent that has been given you or earned through hard work is an avenue through which to trust Christ. The poor widow in Mark 12 gives two copper coins to the offering, and her sacrifice is seen as righteous — not for the monetary value of her sacrifice, but for the greatness of her faith. 

So, next time you’re in church on Sunday and feel your hand falter as you reach for your wallet, ask yourself these questions: Am I being faithful with the resources that I currently steward? Am I hesitant because of fear? Am I being a cheerful giver, or do I need to discuss my misgivings with God? And, finally, do I trust that my Father, who loves me, will clothe me and care for me as he does the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:25-34)?

Glen is the social media and website manager for the Liberty Champion.

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