How can a young person support the causes of God’s kingdom by way of giving? As children and young people in the church, we do not commonly have much money at our disposal. Does that also mean we don’t have much responsibility to support the kingdom by giving? What is our calling here as young people?
Certainly the place of a young person is different from that of an adult confessing member. As with many aspects of God’s church, young people grow into their places by learning and gradually taking on more responsibility. We need to understand why we give, what we support in giving, and how we ought to give. We can then consider how we participate in Christian giving in the situation God has placed us.
We must first understand that we do not give to earn favor with God. Giving in support of kingdom causes is rightly understood as a good work, but our good works do not earn us God’s salvation. Nor are good works, even giving, a penance by which we can absolve ourselves of a portion of our sin. In Psalm 50:7–15, we are taught that all things belong to God; we cannot offer him anything that is not already his. No, our giving, as all our good works, are appointed to us and worked in us by God as part of the new life of thanksgiving he has made in us.
The Heidelberg Catechism in its treatment of the fourth commandment identifies giving as part of the redeemed Christian’s life of thanksgiving. Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103 positively asserts what should fill our Sabbath day as we rest in fellowship with God. We are required to maintain the ministry of the gospel and the schools. We are called to attend worship in the church of God, to abide under the preaching of the word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon God’s name, and to contribute to the relief of the poor. We are blessed to participate in God’s bringing forth of the gospel and his care of the poor by the way of giving. The Catechism properly notes that correct Sabbath observance has implication for the way we live every other day of the week. Our Sunday worship directs our life Monday through Saturday. Likewise, our everyday life is characterized by a concern and provision for the care of the poor and the maintenance of the ministry of the gospel and the schools.
In our concern for kingdom causes, we ought to understand what the causes are. It is a common practice for the council of a congregation to publish its collection schedule annually. Have a look through one of these schedules and you’ll see they all pertain to those causes identified in Q&A 103. Do you see collections for the Christian school that the children of your congregation attend, perhaps other Christian schools also? You’ll surely see budget or general fund collections. This cause is the means by which we operate our congregation. From paying the electric and water bills for the church building to providing for the physical needs of the minister and his family, these relate directly to the maintenance of the ministry of the gospel. Likewise, collections for the building fund, evangelism, domestic and foreign missions all surround the work of bringing God’s word. How about the benevolence or charity fund collection? This is how we provide for the care of the poor. These funds are collected by the deaconate to minister the mercies of Christ to those he has placed in need.
Are there any collections for which you don’t understand the cause? Do you know what causes you support with your Sunday School, catechism, or Bible study collections? Investigate; ask your parents, your instructor, your study leader. We should give with understanding just as we pray with understanding, so that our giving is truly an act of worship.
What attributes should characterize our giving? When we worship God in our giving, we submit ourselves to him. That means we put the kingdom causes above and before our own. Proverbs 3:9 teaches us, “honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase”. We ought to plan to give and reserve a portion of our increase at the outset. We also submit ourselves to God by giving liberally or freely. We should give in an amount that shows we trust God and rely on him to supply our future needs. This is the lesson of Matthew 6:19–34 and Malachi 3:10–12. Finally, we ought to give cheerfully, as Paul wrote unto the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9. If giving to kingdom causes seems a burden or objectionable, we’re not really putting God’s will before our own.
Practically our giving develops with age. As young children, our parents provide us a piece of money to put in the collection plate at the Sunday worship services so that we may participate in that aspect of the worship service. When we are entrusted with an allowance for doing household chores or earn a bit for babysitting, mowing lawn, or the like, we can begin to bring something of our own money to these same collections under our parents’ supervision. As we grow into teenage years and take on summer jobs or part-time work, we are entrusted with more independence and more resources. This is a good time to learn good stewardship and good habits in giving to support kingdom causes. When we make confession of faith and become full members of the church, we also take on a greater responsibility in the financial support of the congregation in which we are a member. Confessing members who are high school or college students may not be called upon to contribute toward the church budget of their congregation, but we should have an understanding of the budget and give as we are able in the place God has put us.
As children and young people, we may think that our giving is not important or notable because we aren’t able to give very much. But remember the lesson of the widow who gave two mites, as recorded in Luke 21:1–4 and Mark 12:41-44. The widow cast only two pennies into the treasury, but she gave with a spirit that put God and his kingdom before herself. She cast in all she had. The Lord saw her heart. He knew what she had done. He noticed. May God in His grace give us the spirit to do likewise.