Jim Hoeger, Stewardship Chair

Giving to First Presbyterian Church matters to me because it supports Christian formation of all ages.  My earliest and fondest memories as a child include the fun times that I had in Sunday School.  As a teenager, the place for me to hang out was with the youth group, and I always looked forward to the summer youth trips to the Boundary Waters Wilderness area in northern Minnesota.  These experiences taught me how to have a conversation with God through prayer and meditation on God’s word.

In my earlier post I said that I asked God to tell me how much I should give to the church.  Well, I never got an answer to that particular question.  When seeking an answer, I always got stuck on the passage in Matthew 16:19 when Jesus says to the rich young man “If you want to be perfect, go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”.  When the young man went away dejected, Jesus says to his disciples, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  I asked God if he was expecting me to give everything I own to the church.  Was the answer to my question 100%?  Everything? How could I live?  What about caring for my family?

The answer came when I continued to read verses 25-26.  The disciples were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With this man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  I realized that if I wanted a number, a percentage that I could give that would satisfy God, I was putting myself in the position of the rich man.  Like the rich man, I was looking for an amount that would ease my conscience and give me the peace of knowing that God was pleased with me.  Jesus’ answer is that God is not transactional, and that there is no set amount that is enough. There is no percentage that is right.

Jesus Christ has given us everything and has asked for nothing in return.  His grace is not a transaction, it was given out of pure love. There was my answer.  God wants me to give whatever I can out of pure love.  If I am truly a Christian, He knows that I will always feel like it isn’t enough.  All He asks of me is that I continue to strive to do better with the giving of my time and my talents, and to do it through a love for others.  Everything else He asks me to leave to faith in Him.  So, in the end I did get an answer.  I had just been asking the wrong question.

I have been blessed beyond measure by the many gifts of those who supported my Christian education.  It was through their gifts that I learned to converse with God.  I find peace and comfort in knowing that I am able to return those blessings by supporting Christian Formation at First Presbyterian Church.

Commitment Sunday is this week.