What Wesley Practiced and Preached About Money, II
by Charles Edward White
John Wesley's teaching on money offered 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 lhc 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."
The old preacher wisely pointed out that when people spend money on things they do not really need, they l)cgin 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 they 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.
And how has God directed Christians to use their incomes? Wesley listed four scriptural priorities:
1. Provide things needful for yourself and your family (I Tim. 5:8). The believer should make sure the family has "a sufficiency of plain, wholesome food to eat, and clean raiment to put on" as well as a place to live and enough to live on if something were to happen to the breadwinner.
2. "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content" (I Tim. 6:8). "Whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place to lay his head, and something over, is rich," he said.
3. "Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Rom. 12:17) and "Owe no man anything" (Rom. 13:8). Wesley said the next claim on a Christian's money is the creditors'. He adds that those who are in business for themselves need lo have adequate tools, stock, or capital for the carrying on of that business.
4. "As we have therefore opportunity, lei us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10). After the Christian has provided for the family, the creditors, and the business, the next obligation is to use any money that is left lo meet the needs of others.
3. Can I offer up this purchase as a sacrifice to the l^rd?
4. Will God reward me for this expenditure at the resurrection of the just?