I cannot count the number of nights in college I ate ramen noodles, cocktail fruit from a can, or bread. Just bread by itself. I was incredible at staying fed after my monthly food budget ran out on the 17th of the month (it really helped knowing which events on campus offered free pizza). Disposable income is not something that exists while in college, I’m utterly convinced of that. College is all about being resourceful, being self-disciplined, or maybe just being really cogent on the phone with your mom when the money has run thin.
Giving away the little money I had to work with was always either conveniently in the back of my mind, or not on my mind at all. So when we are faced with the reality that we are called and invited by Jesus to be generous, how do we work around the issue as a college student? For many, a job or even some part time income isn’t a reality, which makes generosity seem like something we can table until after college, but should we?
The beautiful thing about the Biblical invitation to live generously is it’s not dependant on our circumstances. Jesus does not mind that we aren’t working 40 hours a week or pulling in six figure salaries. It doesn’t matter that we are responsible for studying hard and spending a good chunk of our time taking 15-18 hours worth of classes each semester. The invitation to give and live generously is designed to be a fulfillment of God’s joy in us, and is way more possible than you think.
I would argue that in college, our time is a more valuable resource than our dollars. I know that was true for me. Our time is the most obvious thing we have to give as college students. On any campus, there are many ways to get involved. Opportunities like training to be a Young Life volunteer leader, mentoring in a school, serving in a relationally-based role helping low income folks who are having a tough time getting by; these are all ways we can live generously with our time. The most beautiful part about giving away our time, is that is the essence of living relationally. Giving money is wonderful, but spending your free time serving others often lets you build a relationship at the same time.
There are many ways to live generously with our time and resources. Give away some of the money you have allotted for eating out or going to the movies, spend your Saturdays volunteering or your Friday nights at a high school football game as a Young Life leader. Whatever you decide to do remember we are invited into the mindset of giving away “that which is not ours”. 1 Corinthians 6 says that “we are not our own, we were bought with a price!” Learning to die to ourselves in favor of living the reality of life with Jesus is best learned when we are constantly giving away everything we’ve got – our money, our plans, and the time that we hold onto so dearly.
College is one of the most rich seasons of life you will ever have (even though your wallet or bank account may disagree), and in the midst of that we are called to live generously. Living generously is a fulfillment of the joy of Jesus, and I can promise you, only more fun will follow!
Written by: Colton Parks