“Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
(John Wesley, The Use of Money, 1744)
This John Wesley quote seems to be the basis on which this next chapter of Shiny Gods was built. (Note – John Wesley qualifies his statement by excluding earnings that come at the expense of our health, either spiritual or physical.) Wesley makes the point that any business that we might conduct should be consistent with a life dedicated to God. This also picks up on the comment in the prior chapter that we should look at our jobs as gifts from God. In this chapter it is suggested that the gift of a job is really the gift of a “seed”.
These seeds are counting on being watered by our talents and fed by our efforts before they will pay us back. The context of this Wesley quote and the focus of earning or gaining from work, as described by Mike Slaughter, does point to money. Money is usually one of the first things to be mentioned in a conversation about “making a living”. But, if we want our life’s work to honor God, shouldn’t it involve much more than money? If we extend the analogy of the seed to describe what God gives us to build a life around, then what would constitute a good harvest and good crops? Might the harvest include helping the people we work with, while helping the organizations we work for?
The second part of the Wesley quote encourages saving for the needs of our future. It is interesting to think about this, at the same time that the Pope is making his first visit to the United States. I expect the Pope to encourage us to think about the needs of the poor both now and into our future. (I confess, I am more interested in the Pope’s speech to the congress than the debates of the current presidential candidates.) At the same time, I can also confess that I have never really thought about saving for the poor. Saving has been something to do to avoid becoming poor myself, or to avoid becoming someone else’s burden. Maybe I have kept saving and giving farther apart than they should be.
The 3rd and final part of this quote is to “give all you can”. I think this is potentially a very challenging standard. It has been my experience that giving ‘all that I can’ is great fun … when I am buying gifts for my wife and family. (It is a lot harder to pause and look for Jesus in the face of the poor people around us, let alone the poor on the other side of the world, when weighing our options.) I expect I will still continue practicing the act of giving on my family. I do expect they will help me see that I have many more sisters and brothers than I may have recognized and that I am part of a much bigger family. It is exciting to imagine the many more ways there are to experience the joy of giving.
– Roger Blocher