Managing Money

(Without Being Managed By It)

In October we are focusing on how to best use our resources to the glory of God.  We are walking through Methodist founder John Wesley’s simple wisdom on money, summed in this basic advice: “earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”  On October 30 we will bring our pledges to God in worship at 10:00 a.m. as a sign of our commitment to use what has been entrusted to us for God’s work.

In a sermon called, “The Use of Money,” (from which “earn, save, give” comes) Wesley argues that finance is an area of discipleship that is too much neglected by followers of Jesus:

“An excellent branch of Christian wisdom is here inculcated by our Lord on all his followers, namely, the right use of money — a subject largely spoken of, after their manner, by men of the world; but not sufficiently considered by those whom God hath chosen out of the world.”

Wesley goes on to acknowledge that, if we were back in Eden (before the fall) or already in heaven, money would not be necessary and we could simply share everything in common as it was in Acts 2 with the early church.  But as this is not the present state of affairs, money has a role to play in the work of God:
“But, in the present state of mankind, it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his 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 an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We maybe a defence 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’s advice is not a blanket prescription to simply make lots of money.  The point of the first two pieces of advice (earn all you can, save all you can) is to make possible the final part: give all you can.  Commenting on this sermon, Wesley scholar Albert Outler notes, “It is as if Wesley regarded surplus accumulation as sinful in itself or at the very least as an irresistible temptation to sin.”
At Grace we are committed to using our monetary resources in ways that honor God and best serve our community.  We take every dollar we are given prayerfully and seriously.  We “save all we can” in a variety of ways, including doing our own yard work. (Thanks to all who give up their Saturdays so we do not have to hire this work out!)  There are no frivolous line items in our budget.  And when you give to Grace, you are not just paying to keep the bills paid, but you are supporting hundreds of people each month who are given a hospitality and a quality hot meal in our fellowship hall, dozens of immigrants and refugees who are educated each year in our classrooms, and mission work by children, youth, and adults that touches lives in Greensboro, across the Southeast, and around the world.  The more generous you are, the more impact we will have.
John Wesley, founder of the Wesleyan movement.

John Wesley, founder of the Wesleyan movement.

“Earn all you can, give all you can, save all you can” is not just biblical wisdom, it is countercultural wisdom.  The world tells us to acquire, to hoard, to get more and newer and better and shinier. The world tells us to keep up with the Joneses.  But God’s way is different.  God calls us to radical obedience, not simply to support worthy causes in and outside of the church, but for the benefit of our own souls.  Jesus knew, and John Wesley taught, that money too easily attaches itself to our hearts.  If we aren’t careful, we end up being managed by money rather than managing it.  That’s where Wesley’s wisdom is not simply wise but life-giving  Again, Outler said it best:

“[Wesley] challenged his own people and others to a more stringent form of self-denial than most of them were prepared for…on no other single point, save only faith alone and holy living, is Wesley more insistent, consistent, and out of step with the bourgeois spirit of his age.”
I don’t know about you, but I also want to be “out of step” with the spirit of the age.  I want to manage my resources for God’s glory, so that I don’t end up being managed by them.
How is your use of resources honoring to God? Is there anything unworthy that has a hold of your heart?  What are you doing at present to be free of fear and greed?