Each day this week I’m going to write a blog series called “5 Principles for Students on ___.” Here is the list:
Giving so many times in Christian circles is often limited to the money side, and I do plan to address that. But beyond money, the Christian life entails the giving of yourself. Jesus said that His followers were to take up their cross to follow Him. That’s more than walking down an aisle or getting dunked in water. It’s the giving of everything you are, everything you have, and everything you’ve aspired for. Only when Jesus has control of everything in our lives are we truly free to enjoy Him as we should. When we give, it’s an active form of trusting Jesus and enjoying Jesus.
- You’re not as broke as you think you are, so give – According to FoxOnStocks, the 30+ million teenagers in the US will spend a total of $200-300 billion in 2013. Fox even lists the top 21 stock tips to cash in on teenager spending (good lesson on investments!). The point is this: teenagers have access to money and are known to be big spenders (typically the highest expenses are on clothing, food, and entertainment) on things they want. The issue for Christian teenagers is a simple one of priority. Are you placing a high enough priority on giving generously that you stand apart as different from the world? Remember, if you make more than $1,225 a year you are wealthier than half the world’s population. The money is there, the question is what are you doing with it.
- Giving now develops habits of godliness – We all struggle at first to tie our shoes, to eat our food, and to ride a bike. But as those habits become more natural we find ourselves realizing how easy it really is! The same applies for giving. If now at 14 or 15 you’re taking your babysitting money or your tips from the pizza place and making an intentional effort to give, when you’re older and making grown-up money those habits will already be in place. I talked to a guy who started regularly giving when he got his first paycheck, and after that it was a priority to give regardless of the amount or how much he needed the money. It was an act of faith. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7), and we learn the joy of giving by developing a habit of giving.
- Pennies, nickels and dimes add up – You may not have much to give, maybe all you get in terms of income is an allowance. But here’s the great part: God takes all of those allowance tithes, and combines it with the big-shot doctor in the church and uses every last penny to do some big stuff. Here’s how: of every dollar you give part of it helps keep the church going, and then part of it goes on to fund missionaries, ministries, and other really cool things. We are part of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has about 50,000 churches. Those 50,000 churches pool their money together to send out almost 10,000 missionaries, fund 6 seminaries to train pastors, and provide resources for church plants in major cities. All from your allowance money.
- You’re good at something, use it for Jesus – Enough about money, let’s get into your talents. God gives people different things they’re good at to use for the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4). Beyond that list specifically mentioned in the Bible are the countless things you’re good at that God intends for you to do for Him. Whether it’s sports, public speaking, hospitality, or simply having a strong back (the guy who sets up chairs is a very important volunteer!), you are good at something and that is no accident. Are you using your gifting to help make Jesus more famous in your school, your job, or your home? Are you using what you’re good at to bless the church and help make it more effective? You can take a spiritual gift inventory or you can just ask “What am I good at, enjoy doing, and could make a difference with?”
- Time is short and cash is temporary – At best, you’ve likely only got about 80 years to make your life count. That’s not a lot of time. You’ll spend the first 25 or so in school, and the last 10 in declining health. That means you’ve got at most 45 years to really leave a lasting legacy. In the recession of 2009, Americans lost $16 trillion, according to a HuffPost article. The money you have isn’t going to last forever, it could be lost, devalued, or worst of all wasted. If you want to make your money count, the best investment isn’t in securities or bonds, it’s in heavenly rewards (Matthew 6:19-21).