Wesley’s Rules for Money: Earn All You Can

Luke 16:1-13

parable-of-the-dishonest-stewardThis has to be the weirdest of Jesus’ parables. Everything seems backwards—a “dishonest” manager is commended? The children of this world are more clever in dealing with their peers than “the people of light” (i.e. God’s people)? Use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves? It’s no wonder that a lot of preachers leave this one alone.

John Wesley did not, however. In fact, he made this text the basis for his sermon “On the Use of Money,” and when we dive into the parable a little more closely we can see why, especially when it comes to our topic today—Wesley’s first rule on the use of money: “Earn all you can.”

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If You Could Ask For Anything…

First in the series, “Earn, Save, Give: Wesley’s Simple Rules for Money”

I Kings 3:1-14

use of moneyWow, can you imagine God coming to you tonight and saying to you, “Ask for whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you?” What would you ask for? Some would ask for wealth, no doubt, others for better health. Some may ask for a relationship, others for talent, still others might ask for more wishes!

The question, however, is whether we’d know what to do if we actually got what we wished for. Lottery winners, for example, see their wishes come true when they hit the big jackpot, but most lottery winners wind up miserable because they don’t have a good plan for what to do with the money. We might ask God for good health but we may not have the ability to maintain it. We could have a special talent or ability but squander it in the wrong place.

Maybe this is why God doesn’t make this offer very often!

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A Methodist Loves Others

John 15:12-17; Romans 8:9-21

Loves OthersWe’ve come to the conclusion of our “Marks of a Methodist” series. So far, we’ve talked about the fact that a Methodist loves God, a Methodist rejoices in God, a Methodist gives thanks, and a Methodist prays constantly. These are all wonderful marks and foundational to who we are as the people of God.

The problem is that many Christians, many Methodists, stop with these marks. They love God, go to church and praise him, they say prayers of thanks and even pray for themselves and others. All of these are great and vital things, important marks. But it’s in this fifth one—a Methodist loves others—that the rubber meets the road. Perhaps that’s why John Wesley spent the bulk of his writing inThe Character of a Methodist on this particular mark. He realized, as did Jesus, that the authenticity of our love for God is largely evidenced by the way we love others.

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A Methodist Prays Constantly

Romans 8:18-31; Luke 11:1-13

handwashing-banner1

Hand washing is vital to good physical health. Prayer is even more important to spiritual health (Photo via the CDC – http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/images/handwashing-banner1.jpg)

One of the interesting parts of getting up early on Sunday morning is listening to the radio in my truck on my way to church. Usually, I’m listening to classic rock or sports talk, but before 7:00 on Sunday morning every station that I listen to has a public service program on it featuring an interview with the leader of some non-profit organization. It’s kind of a tradition that comes from the days when the FCC required commercial stations to air at least 30 minutes of this kind of programming each week—early Sunday morning being the most prevalent time—when only preachers can hear it, apparently.

A couple of Sundays ago I was listening to a program featuring a doctor who was talking about flu season and public health including the fact that virtually no one in our culture washes their hands properly. In order to mitigate the spread of germs, we’re supposed to wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” through twice. 20 seconds—it doesn’t sound like a long time but it feels like it when you’re standing at the sink. Who does this? We know we should, it’s an obligation, but we don’t. Why not? Well, the doc said, we’re busy people, after all. This takes time. It feels weird standing at the sink for that long. We’re not prepping for surgery, after all, just getting ready for lunch. Maybe professionals wash like that, but who has the time?

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A Methodist Gives Thanks

I Thessalonians 5:18; Philippians 4:11-13; Luke 17:11-19

TenLepersSo far in this series we’ve looked at two of the marks of a Methodist that John Wesley laid out in his 1742 tract, The Character of a Methodist. The first mark is that a Methodist loves God—that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us, as Wesley put it. We said that the love of God isn’t something we conjure up from within ourselves but, rather, God enables us to love him and love others through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. When we empty ourselves, God’s love fills us and begins to shape us in the image of Christ. All of this is at God’s initiative.

Last week we looked at the second mark, A Methodist Rejoices in God, and we said that the reason for our joy is grounded in what God has done for us in Jesus Christ—namely, God has dealt with the ultimate worst case scenario of sin and death and has given us the promise of new life sealed in his own blood. We have much to be joyful about when we embrace this good news.

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