Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wesley: "Gain all you can" but...

In his sermon entitled "The Use of Money," John Wesley summarizes his advice on the scriptural and spiritual use of money to these three admonitions: 


  • Gain all you can
  • Save all you can
  • Give all you can.
His summary expands upon this a bit in this way: "Gain all you can, without hurting either yourself or your neighbour, in soul or body, by applying hereto with unintermitted diligence, and with all the understanding which God has given you; -- save all you can, by cutting off every expense which serves only to indulge foolish desire; to gratify either the desire of flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; waste nothing, living or dying, on sin or folly, whether for yourself or your children; -- and then, give all you can, or, in other words, give all you have to God."
In my last post, I intimated that Wesley might have a few things to say to those persons in the financial world who have benefitted personally from practices that have resulted in last year's financial upheaval worldwide. 
In the sermon mentioned above, Wesley his hearers to apply themselves a diligently as possible to their work in the world. But he fences this urging in with the caveat that a follower of Jesus Christ is bound by certain moral restrictions on their employment. Namely:


  1. Money should not be gained at the expense of anyone's life
  2. Nor at the expense of our own health 
  3. Nor by means of anything that deprives us of sleep or proper nourishment.
  4. We should not be employed at anything that might hurt our mind. That is, nothing that is immoral, sinful or unlawful according to the laws of one's community or country.
  5. Money should not be gained by doing anything that is hurtful to our neighbor. That is, we cannot gain money by charging high interest, by writing contracts such that we profit from another's misfortunes (including foreclosures), by underselling and driving our competitors out of business, or by hiring away workers from our competitor.
  6. We may not sell anything that impairs health.
The guiding principle in all of this is: gain all you can through honest industry in ways that do no harm to others. Doing no harm to others is a constant refrain in Wesley's writing. It is based in Jesus' commandments to "Love your neighbor as yourself" and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Stewardship to Wesley is a profound spiritual practice and a sublime moral and ethical guide for living and working in the world.
So how would the various executives at Savings and Loans, Mortgage Lending Houses, Banks, Investment Firms that have scammed millions of people out of billions of dollars have fared under Wesley's withering gaze?
The sad thing is how many of them attended churches regularly and even served as deacons and leaders. 
Other bloggers have commented on faith, morality and economics. Read some of their comments:


Some of these posts may strike you as being "political." If you define "political" as referring to anything that affects our corporate life together, then, yes, they are political. And everything in the Bible is therefore political by this definition, because everything in the Bible has something to do with how we live together as persons. Therefore, in this definition, politics has to do with ethics has to do with morality. That is, how we live together and how we treat one another.
If you define "Politics" as referring narrowly to the policies and posturing by Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Social Democrats, Freedom Party, Greens, or whatever, then that is not a part of these blog postings. Everyone comes under scrutiny. 
These bloggers I have linked to are concerned, with Wesley, about how we as Christians might apply the teachings of Jesus Christ in our own lives, in our businesses and places of work, and in our world at large. 
John Wesley often said, "The world is my parish." If that is so, then this sermon on "the Use of Money" could certainly be addressed to the world beyond the walls of our church.


1 comment:

  1. I like to see your Blog after hearing your sermon. It helps reinforce the message.. Keep Blogging!

    Evelyn H.

    ReplyDelete