Monday Meditation – John Wesley and Budgeting

John Wesley

“By the right use of money we can provide for others.  Money can serve as a husband for the widow and as a father to the orphans.  We can supply protection for the oppressed, a means of health for the sick, and a comfort for those in pain. Money can become as “eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame (Job 29:15, NRSV); and, indeed money can lift up others “from the gates of death” (Psalm 9:13).”

Budgeting can be a stressful and boring process.  Yet budgets often speak volumes about what a person or organization does or does not value.

They force us to make choices—some difficult, some easy.  Nevertheless, it is these choices that signal our values about what we take responsibility for as individuals and organizations.

For John Wesley, budgeting was easy.  He gave all but what it took to maintain his health.  That amount rarely changed, despite his earnings rising over the years.  His basic maintenance was just that, the basics.  Probably a bit austere to our day and age. But, nonetheless, this is a living witness to his commitment to giving from his abundance.

It is estimated that Wesley gave away nearly $50,000 US in his lifetime. It is the equivalent of a whole year’s wages for some lucky few today.  Back then, it was an enormous amount of money.

John Wesley believed in generosity.  Even if he never preached it, his life and his budget spoke for him.   His life was his living witness to budgeting and giving. He lived as a steward of all God gave him.

“If at any time a doubt should arise concerning what sum you should spend on yourself or any part of your family, there is an easy way to resolve the doubt. Ask these questions: (1) In spending this money, am I acting according to my character? Am I acting not as an owner, but as a steward of my Lord’s goods? (2) Am I giving this money in obedience to God’s Word? In what scripture does God require me to spend this money? (3) Can I offer up this action or expenditure as a sacrifice to God through Jesus Christ? (4) Do I have reason to believe that for this very work I will receive a reward at the resurrection of the righteous? You will seldom need anything more than these questions to remove any doubt that may arise.

If any doubt still remains, you can further examine yourself by prayer according to each of these four questions.”

Cain Kinghorn, John Wesley on Christian Practice: The Standard Sermons in Modern English, Volume 3 (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2003), 317–334.

Elections and The Common Good

Elections

Elections

For many, elections have become a competition, a horse race. They determine whose person wins and as a result whose beliefs and values are supposedly the best.

Yet elections are about more than who wins or loses. They are a right and responsibility of each citizen who is of age.

Many have fought wars both violent and nonviolent to give everyone the right to vote. We do their sacrifice an injustice by not participating in this democratic system that, while flawed, is better than all the others out there. It is better than coups, monarchies and theocracies.

The Common Good

Elections are also a responsibility. They ask of us to think and pray long and hard about how we are to be in community with one another. Elections are not about winning one for the team, but the common good. They are to make common the good for all.

As a connectional church this is not new to us United Methodists. “Every United Methodist congregation is interconnected throughout the denomination via a unique, interlocking chain of conferences. The United Methodist Church practices representative democracy in its governance.” We understand the rights and responsibilities of our Connection’s common good.

Let us now in each of our country’s electoral process and our Church’s connectional process, seek the beloved community, the common good for all. Let us not only participate in a horse race that does not in the end care for the making of community but only in winning. We are not to vanquish one another but love one another as our God so loved us.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, … Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV