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3 Powerful Things John Wesley Teaches Us About Money

by Jason on July 21, 2011

John Wesley was an 18th century English preacher who focused on the justification by faith as well as social issues like prison reform and slavery abolition.  He began small groups of believers throughout England that focused not only on gaining scriptural knowledge, but also personal holiness and discipleship.

He and his brother Charles were instrumental in beginning the Methodist denomination. But John Wesley also gives us an insight into how we should handle our money.

Here are three things John Wesley teaches us about money from his sermon, The Use of Money:

1. Gain All You Can

I love that Wesley doesn’t condemn making money.  In fact, he suggests we gain all we can.  But, he does provide some caveats, which are very useful in determining how we should go about making money:

  1. Don’t gain money at the expense of your health.  Essentially Wesley says we shouldn’t work til we drop just to make more money. We need to learn when to rest.
  2. Don’t gain money at the expense of your soul.  In other words, don’t engage in activities that are not pleasing to God and may cause damage to your soul. For example, a sales job where the company requires you to lie about a product or competitor to get ahead.
  3. Don’t gain money at the expense of your neighbor. Don’t take advantage of others in order to get ahead.  In today’s society, it’s customary to view others as stepping stones to our fortune. Wesley warns against such thoughts.

Wesley goes on to say that we should always seek to improve upon the ways we make our money – to get better at it.

Gain all you can, by common sense, by using in your business all the understanding which God has given you. It is amazing to observe, how few do this; how men run on in the same dull track with their forefathers. You should be continually learning, from the experience of others, or from your own experience, reading, and reflection, to do everything you have to do better to-day than you did yesterday.

2. Save All You Can

After having gained all we can, we should save. Wesley warns against throwing it away toward frivolous niceties and fanciful pleasures. He suggests avoiding excessive spending so we can save money not to hoard, but so we can put it to good use.

Do not throw it away in idle expenses, which is just the same as throwing it into the sea. Expend no part of it merely to gratify the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life.

3. Give All You Can

Wesley says,

But let not any man imagine that he has done anything, barely by going thus far, by “gaining and saving all he can,” if he were to stop here. All this is nothing, if a man go not forward, if he does not point all this at a farther end.

Nor, indeed, can a man properly be said to save anything, if he only lays it up. You may as well throw your money into the sea, as bury it in the earth. And you may as well bury it in the earth, as in your chest, or in the Bank of England.

Not to use, is effectually to throw it away. If, therefore, you would indeed “make yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,” add the Third rule to the two preceding. Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then “give all you can.”

What a challenge! If you don’t give, you are essentially throwing your money into the sea!  Those are strong and challenging words from Wesley.

How Are You Doing With Gaining, Saving, & Giving?

Here are some resources to help you:

Gain All You Can

Save All You Can

Give All You Can

Let’s get the conversation going, how are you doing with these three things? Which one is most difficult for you?

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