Wesley on Money, pt. 2

Last week, I started my paraphrase of John Wesley’s sermon, On the Use of Money. In part 1, he reminds us that money can be used for good – if we obey what Christ instructs. This week, if you’re still with me, is the meat of the sermon, where he (and I) explain the three rules in detail. This part of the original lends itself to a liberal use of bullet points.

Rule #1 – Earn All You Can.

Everybody can agree on this. We should earn all the money we can – with certain restrictions. The first being this: earn all you can, but not at the expense of your health. 

  • We should not work so long and so hard at a job that it literally “kills us,” damages our health.
  • We shouldn’t engage in a business that deprives us (or others) of food and sleep, which our bodies require.
  • Some jobs are dangerous, and made more so by inadequate management, toxic materials.
  • Some bodies can’t stand certain jobs while others can. Some jobs just don’t fit with our particular constitutions.
  • Whatever the reason, if experience shows that the job is destructive to our health and strength, we should not do it. As Jesus says in Luke 12:23, “There is more to life than food and more to the body than clothing.”
  • It might be more important to lessen your earnings than to lessen your health.

The second restriction: do not earn money at the expense of your mind. We must preserve the “spirit of a healthful mind.”

  • Don’t engage in a job that is sinful, that goes against the laws of God or country. There are laws we must obey, and some jobs might tempt us to break those laws. Some jobs seem innocent enough, but can’t be done competently without breaking the law, or acting in a way not in good conscience. Avoid these, no matter how much you could earn. We shouldn’t earn anything at the expense of our souls!
  • There are some jobs that one person can do, but another can’t. Some jobs might involve one person in destructive patterns while another person wouldn’t be so involved. Maybe your spirit, soul, personality, or body won’t allow you to do a job without sinning and your neighbor could do it just fine. (I once had a friend whose first job was working for a tobacco distributor. She delivered and stocked the cigarette shelves at local stores. She had to quit for the good of her conscience, while another person might not)
  • We have to all decide for ourselves whether a particular job would lead our souls into dangerous territory.

Third restriction: earn all we can without hurting our neighbor.

  • In his “substance.”  
    • This is taken care of if we “love our neighbor as ourselves.” If we do that, we won’t devour whatever our neighbor produces through gambling, extreme debt or doing illegal things.
    • We shouldn’t rationalize it by saying we are “doing evil so that good may come.”
    • We can’t love our brother and undercut his prices, in order to advance our business at the cost of his.
    • We shouldn’t hire away any of his employees.
    • If you try to gain by swallowing up your neighbor’s substance, you may gain business, but you also gain condemnation.
  • We shouldn’t earn by hurting a neighbor’s body, either.
    • We shouldn’t earn by selling anything that impairs his/her health – like that “liquid fire” called liquors, even those they may have some medicinal qualities.
    • There is a special place in hell for all those who sell drugs illegally.
    • Neither should doctors play with the health of others to earn more money.  They should heal as much as they can as soon as they can.
    • Unnecessarily drawing out the treatment – just so the bill can be bigger – is sinful!
  • We shouldn’t earn by hurting a neighbor’s soul.
    • If your earning leads a neighbor to sin, you are hurting his soul.
    • Its okay if a bar, restaurant, or theater profits the soul. But if these businesses are sins in themselves, or open the door for sin, then God will judge you harshly.

So, earn all you can by good, hard work. Work diligently. Use your time wisely. Use your time to complete what God has called you to do. If you work like you’re supposed to, you won’t have time to waste. Use all of the sense God has given you to earn as much as you can – it’s amazing how few people do this!

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