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Live Humbly, Give Extravagantly

John Wesley

John Wesley

I remember listening to John Piper preach and he said a word that has rung in my ear ever since when it comes down to money. I also bumped into this truth again sometime later in his book Don’t Waste Your Life around page 111.  

“God has given us money to use money to show that God, not possessions is our treasure”. – John Piper 

In truth I have found that Christians who worship God, not money, prefer to live humbly and give extravagantly. This was fleshed out in the life of John Wesley the open-air preacher who is considered along with his brother Charles Wesley as the founders of the Methodist movement. Here is an excerpt of an article from © Desiring God on his life & giving. 

Take John Wesley for example. He was one of the great evangelists of the 18th Century, born in 1703. In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. In the second year his income doubled but he held his expenses even, and so he had 32 pounds to give away (a comfortable year’s income). In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds and he gave away 62 pounds. In his long life Wesley’s income advanced to as high as 1,400 pounds in a year. But he rarely let his expenses rise above 30 pounds. He said that he seldom had more than 100 pounds in his possession at a time. 

This so baffled the English Tax Commissioners that they investigated him in 1776 insisting that for a man of his income he must have silver dishes that he was not paying excise tax on. He wrote them, “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.” 

When he died in 1791 at the age of 87, the only money mentioned in his will was the coins to be found in his pockets and dresser. Most of the 30,000 pounds he had earned in his life had been given away. He wrote, 

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. In other words, I will put a control on my spending myself, and I will go beyond the tithe for the sake of Christ and his kingdom. (Quotes from Mission Frontiers, Sept./Oct. 1994, nos. 9–10, pp. 23–24.  

Paul’s word on giving comes to mind in 2 Corinthians 9:6–8: “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” I Pray that God would open our hearts in order to open our wallets on behalf of the gospel ministry.

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