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God's Money and You: Part Four - Rules For Spending

By Pastor Philip Howle
web posted September 5, 2012

RELIGION –Warning: the following article, if taken seriously, has the potential to seriously ruin your current use of money. Changing the way we use money would be a good thing for the vast majority of us, since we are stewards, entrusted to use money that ultimately belongs to God. Last week we saw how angry we would be if our stock broker took money that we gave him to make us money and instead blew it all on himself. So we are going to keep looking at the implication of how we manage and handle God’s money He has entrusted to us.

We begin this week by looking at some wisdom of an amazing man of faith, John Wesley. It is written that a distraught man frantically rode his horse up to John Wesley one day and was shouting, “Mr. Wesley, Mr. Wesley, something terrible has happened! Your house has burned to the ground!” The total loss of a home to fire is so hard for me to even imagine, and I know some of you have endured this.  But is said that that Wesley slowly weighed the news for the moment, and then replied, “No. The Lord’s house burned to the ground. That means one less responsibility for me.”

Now before I tell you to have the same attitude, let me be honest and say that when I read that my first thought was “come on now let’s get real!” But in reading more of Wesley, his reaction didn’t stem from a denial of reality or some pie in the sky by and by theology, it was solidly grounded in the truth that all of his resources are God’s. 

It was this reality that also lead him to do another noteworthy act that we would do well to emulate. John Wesley refused to grow his spending as his income increased.  He records that one year his income was 30 pounds and his living expenses 28 pounds, so he had 2 pounds to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still managed to live on 28 pounds, so he had 32 pounds to give to the poor. In the third year, his income jumped to 90 pounds. Instead of letting his expenses rise with his income, he kept them to 28 pounds and gave away 62 pounds. In the fourth year, he received 120 pounds. As before, his expenses were 28 pounds, so his giving rose to 92 pounds. This practice continued throughout his life. Even when his income rose into the thousands of pounds sterling, he lived simply and he quickly gave away his surplus money. One year his income was a little over 1400 pounds. He lived on 30 pounds and gave away nearly 1400 pounds this is the equivalent of earning 1.2 million dollars from his preaching and giving 98% of it away.

Now it needs to be noted that he had no family to care for. God may lead you to such a lifestyle, but being prepared and saving money is not wrong at all. I commend to you the attitude behind the actions. He found his joy in Christ. More or less money in no way affected this. We said early on in our studies that money can easily become of the strongest pulls in our lives away from God.

Paul expressed this frighteningly 1 Timothy 6:6-10 “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, (7) for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  (8)  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  (9)  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  (10)  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Wesley, coming from a heart satisfied in Christ, came up with following four rules in regards to spending. Warning, these are rough and if you follow them, you will buy a lot less, but prayerfully also find deeper satisfaction in Christ.

The first rule he gives us is “In spending this money, am I acting as if I owned it, or am I acting as the Lord’s trustee?” In order to answer this question the purchase has to be evaluated and asked will Jesus like and approve of what I am buying? This will make you think about everything from a gluttonous buffet to a new DVD.

The second rule is the one that really gets me the most “What Scripture passage requires me to spend this money in this way?”Understand that my temptation to spend money is on expensive goatskin Bibles (notice plural, I have too many!), so I can easily say that Jesus likes Bibles and nail the first one. But, I can’t find anywhere in Scripture that can commend me to own multiple expensive copies of God’s word? I can’t, if you can great please share it with me!

The third rule is “Can I offer up this purchase as a sacrifice to the Lord?”  How tightly do you cling to what you buy? Do you refuse to share it or let it define you as a person? If God called you to give it away could you do so joyfully?

The fourth rule is “Will God reward me for this expenditure at the resurrection of the just?” In other words, is what I am going to buy going to merit me the approval of Jesus when I stand before Him? This is a rough one as well, I see Jesus slapping me in the back of head and saying “Really, you actually bought 35 dollar titanium collapsible travel chopsticks!”  In my defense, I was going on a mission trip to China and needed to be prepared!

The point is, is the way you are handling God’s money pleasing Him? Furthermore, is the way you are handling your money working out for you? If we really believe God is the owner of all that has been entrusted to us, shouldn’t we be regularly asking him, “What do you want me to do with your money and your possessions?”  And shouldn’t we be open to the possibility that he may want us to share large portions of his assets with those whose needs are greater than ours? (Wesley information collected from Randy Alcorn, Money)

Seeking to find greater joy in Jesus than the sweet aroma of a new highland goatskin Bible from Scotland!

Pastor Phillip

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