Pastor John Elmore, Jr.
EARN, SAVE, GIVE
John Wesley famously said we as Christians should, “earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” When I read this for my class “The Theology of Money,” my initial understanding had to change to completely grasp the full context and meaning of what Wesley meant. Hearing the words “earn all you can” and our American culture which encourages people to get all they can. I know I have a business degree because I wanted to make it big for my family. I am afraid that we don’t see this statement in its complete context. The question is, what is the full meaning of Wesley’s statement and what can we learn from it, especially when we look at how Wesley lived this statement out throughout his life.
So let’s just take the first part, as we should try to increase our earnings without them becoming the focus of our life. My materialistic brain hears the second part of Wesley’s statement of “save all you can” as I should put all I can up for retirement and the easy life. I should have plenty in my savings account for a rainy day. Then I am afraid that I look like the rich fool that had so much he tore down his barns to build bigger ones to store his excess. (Luke 12) I think it is important for each of us to understand when do we have enough? When do we have more than we need? When is our stuff more than we need? Could we do with a little less so we could impact our community and bless someone around us?
Wesley’s life gives us several examples of how he saved more so he could give more. When Wesley took his first job at the university as a teaching fellow he made 28 pounds a year. Wesley would receive regular raises and within a few years have quadrupled his salary. The interesting thing is Wesley was still living on just 28 pounds a year. The extra that Wesley earned he gave away. I don’t know about you but I am not living on that very first annual salary I made some 30 years ago. As I have seen increases in my income so have my expenses increased. I will tell you I don’t know if we need to follow this extreme example to be faithful of following Christ. Still I have been challenged that I should be looking at how much excess I have in my life. Many times when I am trying to cut expenses it is about putting more aside for Kay and I or trying to get our budget back in check. Very rarely am I thinking about if we cut this out of our lives I can give more to the church or a person in need. Maybe we should take the time to look at the choices we are making as we spend our money. Yes, those choices are theological. They tell us what is important in our lives. Are our choices all about us or is it about others? Wesley clearly thought we should be using our money wisely so we could give away all we can. I have had to ask myself when do I have enough? When will I learn to be as generous with my life and stuff as Jesus was as generous with his life when he gave it for me? I know I am pondering some of my choices. I hope you will engage in the same process so our community might see the generosity of God’s people in our community.
Peace and stay safe,