Friday, August 12, 2011

Wesley’s three rules for money management

John Wesley’s teaching on money offers simple, practical guidelines for every believer.

His first rule about money was Gain all you can. Despite its potential for misuse, money in itself is something good. There is no end to the good it can do: “In the hands of (God’s) children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain. It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame: yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!”

Wesley added that in gaining all they can, Christians must be careful not to damage their own souls, minds, or bodies, or the souls, minds or bodies of anyone else. He thus prohibited gaining money through industries that pollute the environment or endanger workers.

Wesley’s second rule for the right use of money was Save all you can. He urged his hearers not to spend money merely to gratify the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eye, or the pride of life. He cried out against expensive food, fancy clothes, and elegant furniture: “Despise delicacy and variety and be content with what plain nature requires.”

Wesley had two reasons for telling Christians to buy only necessities. The obvious one was so they would not waste money. The second was so they would not increase their desires.

The old preacher wisely pointed out that when people spend money on things they do not really need, they begin to want more things they do not need. Instead of satisfying their desires, they only increase them.

Wesley’s third rule was Give all you can. One’s giving should begin with the tithe. He told the one who does not tithe, “Thou dost undoubtedly set thy heart upon thy gold” and warned, “It will ‘eat thy flesh as fire!’” But one’s giving should not end at the tithe. All of the Christian’s money belongs to God, not just the first tenth. Believers must use 100 percent of their income as God directs.

In an age when a single man could live comfortably on 30 pounds a year, his annual income reached 1,400.

He recorded in 1731 that he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was 30 pounds and his living expenses 28 pounds, so he had 2 pounds to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still managed to live on 28 pounds, so he had 32 pounds to give to the poor. In the third year, his income jumped to 90 pounds. Instead of letting his expenses rise with his income, he kept them to 28 pounds and gave away 62 pounds. In the fourth year, he received 120 pounds. As before, his expenses were 28 pounds, so his giving rose to 92 pounds.

What a great example from this great man of faith! Read the full sermon

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