john wesley on money

john-wesley.jpg(Pastor) Ray’s message on Sunday had to do with the greedy fools of Luke 12:13-21. I’m tempted to summarize the sermon, but it would probably be a better idea to listen to the whole thing once it’s been uploaded.

The sermon reminded me of some interesting quotes about money I recently heard from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. The following comes from the closing of a sermon given in 1790.

I am pained for you that are “rich in this world.” Do you give all you can? You who receive five hundred pounds a year, and spend only two hundred, do you give three hundred back to God? If not, you certainly rob God of that three hundred. You that receive two hundred, and spend but one, do you give God the other hundred? If not, you rob him of just so much. “Nay, may I not do what I will with my own?” Here lies the ground of your mistake. It is not your own. It cannot be, unless you are Lord of heaven and earth. “However, I must provide for my children.” Certainly. But how? By making them rich? Then you will probably make them Heathens, as some of you have done already. “What shall I do, then?” Leave them enough to live on, not in idleness and luxury, but by honest industry. And if you have not children, upon what scriptural or rational principle can you leave a groat behind you more than will bury you? I pray consider, what are you the better for what you leave behind you? What does it signify, whether you leave behind you ten thousand pounds, or ten thousand shoes and boots? O leave nothing behind you! Send all you have before you into a better world! Lend it, lend it all unto the Lord, and it shall be paid you again! Is there any danger that his truth should fail? It is fixed as the pillars of heaven. Haste, haste, my brethren, haste! Lest you be called away before you settled what you have on this security! When this is done, you may boldly say, “Now I have nothing to do but to die! Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit! Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!

And this has been written of the end of Wesley’s life,

In 1744, Wesley had written, “[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds … you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers.

What had happened to the rest of his money, to the estimated thirty thousand pounds he had earned over his lifetime? He had given it away. As Wesley said, “I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence, but in every other respect my own hands will be my executors.”

These are words I need to hear over and over again.

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