Today’s teens and young people have been labeled by some as the “Entitlement Generation.” Quoting a business executive, an Associated Press news report states that young people “think [they] are entitled to everything.”
Young people today have “high expectations for salary, job flexibility and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company.” A college professor commented, “We’re seeing an epidemic of people who are having a hard time making the transition to work—kids who had too much success early in life and who’ve become accustomed to instant gratification” (Associated Press).
The above quotes are an example of a greater problem brewing among young people today.
A Spoiled Generation
Society teaches teens to believe that they have “rights.” Over time, this broadens to the point that they feel they deserve these rights, and everything else they have received in life. They expect to receive the material possessions that many parents give—plenty of clothes, a car at age sixteen, allowances, computers, cell phones and more. If their parents are not able to provide these things, it is “unfair” and “unloving,” because all of their friends have them. After high school, many feel it is their right to attend college or university. Then, upon graduation, they automatically feel they deserve a high-paying job, without necessarily working hard or “paying their dues.”
How about you? Have you grown accustomed to thinking that you deserve all that you have been given? What about the money you might earn from a job—do you think it is rightfully yours? Do you know that anything and everything you have or receive does not belong to you?
Notice what the Creator of the entire universe says: “For all the earth is Mine” (Ex. 19:5). Have you, as a teenager who likely has many physical possessions, ever considered this? Even the wages you earn at a job do not belong to you. Do you believe this?
The Bible states, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s your God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deut. 10:14) and “whatsoever is under the whole heaven is Mine” (Job 41:11). King David was inspired to write, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psa. 24:1).
God proclaims, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills…If I were hungry, I would not tell you: for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof” (Psa. 50:10, 12). Finally, the prophet Haggai recorded, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, says the Lord” (2:8).
If everything in the universe belongs to God, ALL your physical possessions are gifts that only come from and through Him. The oxygen you breathe is a gift. Your parents and all the blessings that come from them are gifts. The bed in which you sleep and the shoes you wear are gifts! What you have been given in life are gifts from God.
Now, what should you do in return? Does God require anything of you?
What Does God Say?
God states, in Leviticus 27, “And all the tithe of the land…is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord…And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord” (vs. 30, 32).
As a teen in the Church of God, you should obey God in every way that you are taught—such as Sabbath-keeping, eating only clean meats and obeying your parents. One of God’s commands is that we all give 10 percent of the income we receive. Remember, it is not our income.
People believe that the money they earn is their own. But let’s look at it from a different perspective. As mentioned, most teens feel they deserve everything they have ever received—they believe that it is theirs, that they have the “rights” to it. However, the Bible states the contrary—everything is God’s.
God provides you with a job—even the talents and abilities to perform your job—and, therefore, He also gives you all your income. He simply asks for 10 percent—a tithe—of it back. So when you give 10 percent back to God, you are merely doing what is reasonable. Again, ask yourself: “When God has given it all to me, am I doing something special by just returning the tenth that belongs to Him?”
The answer should be clear.
In other words, you are not giving 10 percent of your income to God—God is giving you 90 percent of what is His! Have you looked at it this way before?
A Common Misconception
Many teens in God’s Church assume that they do not need to tithe until they are baptized or nearing baptism. This is simply false.
Consider: You know the Ten Commandments. One forbids killing and another forbids stealing. Is it okay to kill or steal before you are baptized? Of course not! You do not do these things because you know they are obviously wrong. If you did, you would be held accountable by God’s Law, as well as man’s. What about the Sabbath? You keep it each week because you know it is right—even though you are not baptized.
So then why would you not tithe now, when you know God’s Law? Is the time just prior to baptism when you need to begin obeying God? Again, of course not. As soon as you know right from wrong on any subject, you must begin to do something about it. However, this becomes much harder for some when money is involved—especially when it feels like your money.
Each person is held accountable for what he or she knows. In other words, the questions are: What did you know? When did you know it? And what did you do about it? James 4:17 states, “Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.”
You should be obeying God in every way. Of course, this can only be done on a physical level for those who do not yet have God’s Spirit. Nevertheless, like the physical nation of ancient Israel, who also did not have the Holy Spirit, obedience is required—and this includes tithing.
Would you obey God just because He says to do something? The answer should be “yes!” But on the subject of tithes and offerings, God promises to do something in return, which should make it even easier for you to follow His instructions.
Notice Malachi 3:8-10: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in My house, and prove Me now herewith, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
God is the most reliable Being in the universe. When He says He will do something, He does it! Human beings, however, sometimes break their word, but God will not—cannot—lie (Heb. 6:18; Tit. 1:2).
He tells you to prove Him. In effect, He is saying that IF you pay Him His tithes and give Him your offerings, He will in turn bless you more than you can imagine. Do you believe this absolute promise from your Creator?
To most human minds, God’s math does not make sense. In man’s math, if you have ten and give one, you are left with less; with God’s math, the same formula leaves you with more! Even your knowledgeable math teacher will not understand that!
What Comes First?
Again, many teens in the world today are focused on material goods. They are not taught to save, but rather plan to spend each paycheck as soon as it arrives. Girls dream of expensive, trendy clothing. Boys cannot wait until they have enough money for the next video game or video game console.
God’s youth must be different! Of course, there will be some items that you may want. But, you must determine where and what your priorities should be—who needs to come first! While it is not wrong to have these things, should you put a pair of jeans, a cell phone or even a car—all of which will not ultimately last—before God?
On the other hand, some teenagers may be “strapped for cash.” While most teens do not spend their money on things such as monthly bills, some may find themselves tight financially. Perhaps you are trying to save or pay for college, your own clothing, a car, etc. This certainly can be hard, but this does not mean that you should give up God’s Way as soon as life gets tough. Try to think of the many adults in God’s Church who must meet bill payments, mortgage or rent payments, and in many cases provide for a family as well. They too must faithfully pay God’s tithes during difficult times, when their income is tight. God may be testing to see if you truly want to obey Him. Remember, when you pass the test, He WILL bless you!
It does not matter how small of an income one has. God is focused on whether someone will obey Him in faithfully tithing, not on the amount. If you make a dollar in a week, turn in 10 cents for God’s Work (1st tithe) and put aside 10 cents for the Feast (2nd tithe). If your income is very small or sporadic, you can certainly wait to send in your tithes once a month or every other month. The important thing is to be consistent and show God a pattern of obedience. But, if you receive regular paychecks, remember that the longer you delay in paying God’s tithes to His headquarters, the longer you are stealing from Him, and bringing a curse on yourself. (To understand more about tithing, read our article “The Other Tithing Questions.”)
The Give Way
All of God’s youth need to obey Him and do what He requires. It should now be clear that this includes supporting God’s Work through His tithes and their offerings.
Herbert W. Armstrong kept things simple. He described that there are only two ways of life: the give way and the get way. When you pay tithes and give offerings, you are living the give way. And when you live God’s way of give, you will receive an endless number of blessings.
Financial support goes directly to God’s Work of preaching the gospel to the world. We are hearing from an increasing number of teenagers who are learning God’s truth for the first time. Some have already come into the Church. By supporting the Work, you will directly help teenagers come out of this world. Their lives will change and grow much brighter because of your willingness to obey God now. Someday, perhaps some of your best friends may be those who came into the Church partly because you decided to do what God required.
Determine to obey God’s command to tithe, and watch the blessings that result—both for you and for others!