“Raise your standard of giving, not your standard of living” John Wesley

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, identified the major threat to the vitality of the Spirit’s movement in the new church as “the growing prosperity of the Methodists.” Wesley’s experience was that an increase in wealth resulted in a decrease in the reliance on grace, a lack of discipline, and separation from the poor. He believed Christians had to look the poor in the eyes frequently, intentionally. In fact, Wesley believed Christians should not strive to love and help the poor from a superior position, but to actually live as simply as possible so that we could actually be with and learn from the poor. At the point we Christians truly understand the situation of the poor from their vantage point, we.see.Christ.

[Christ] who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave ~Philippians 2:6-7

Christ is the slave standing in front of us! Right there in the midst of the everydayedness of the poor, we will find Him. He is not usually prominent in places of prosperity. While on earth, He was born in a stable, He had no home, He ministered to outcasts, He was crucified between two thieves and was buried in a barrowed tomb. Jesus calls us to the poor because He wants us to be like Him, and that is where He spends His time.

Last week at the School of Christian Mission with my granddaughters, I was spurred on to work for social justice, reconciliation and system change. I am so thankful for my heritage in Methodism. John Wesley lived on 30 pounds per year and when he died he had only pocket change to his name. He believed he was to live in such a way that everyone’s needs could be met until Jesus came again to make all things new.

In a sermon entitled “The New Creation” Wesley preached that one day all creation would be transformed.

All the elements…will be new, indeed entirely changed as to their qualities, although not as to their nature….All the earth shall then be a more beautiful paradise than Adam ever saw….He that sitteth upon the throne will soon change the face of all things, and give demonstrative proof to all his creatures that his mercy is over all his works.

But until that day, Wesley believed the foundation of our faith rested in the poor.

Religion must not go from the greatest to the least, or the power would appear to be of men.

So this morning I awaken and think about what this Parish Nurse will do. I have a van load of supplies from my friend who is a Bayada Home Health Pediatric Nurse manager. She told all her clients that if they have left over supplies to give them to her because I had a place they could be used. Three times now I have loaded my van with supplies and it has only been a month since she sent out the call. There is a fortune in medical supplies here, I can assure you. The special formula in the cases that I have a picture of here are probably worth $1000.00 retail. These will be loaded into cargo containers for shipment anywhere in the US or world where people need them.

I took this van load of supplies over to the Sojourner Truth soup kitchen, a drop-off place for anyone wanting to give supplies to Mission Central, our United Methodist Mission distribution center. I drove up and they were having breakfast going on. Sister Valinda yelled to two young men to unload my van and told me they were making a trip to Mission Central that very afternoon! Yeah!

In 1731 as a young professor at Oxford, Wesley began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was 30 pounds and his living was 28 pounds so that he had 2 pounds to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still managed to live on 28 pounds and gave 32 pounds away. In the third year his income jumped to 90 pounds, but he kept his expenses to 28 pounds and gave 62 pounds away.

In 1744 Wesley wrote, “[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds…you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers.

I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,

Dawn

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4 comments on ““Raise your standard of giving, not your standard of living” John Wesley

  1. Dawn, such a needy word in a world and time of thinking we have to have the best of everything and upgrade that as time goes on, whether we have the funds to do so or not. For several years, I fell into that trap and became the exact opposite of John Wesley. . . and God being true to His character and ways, dealt with me in the exact opposite way than He did with Mr. Wesley. I lost everything. The less I gave, the less I had, til I had nothing. The saddest part about that is, John Wesley died knowing he had nothing but had everything to show for it. I, on the other hand, had nothing, and nothing to show for it. But were it not for Grace. . . .!!!! Second chances! Perhaps another word for God’s amazing Grace! Dawn, you are such an example to me, and you do it in a way that makes it look like fun, enjoyment, fulfillment, instead of work, drudgery and loss. It’s people like you who show us what Christ looked like with skin on. A servant. I get up from here enriched and energized to do more. Thank you for that!

    • Dear Cora,

      I was wondering how the card ministry is going? I made a couple of cards last evening and thought about you all the while. I would love to take snippets of your poems and have stamp companies make them into stamps. You have such incredible talent!

      About my blog, I wrote it to work out “stuff” in my life. My husband and I have a substantial retirement fund to draw upon in our elder years and I wonder about that. I believe that our economy is on a precipice and our nest egg will probably not be worth anything anyway, but there it is and I am not spending it down. I am thinking about that.

      I am giving of my time and gathering resources around for others, but I do have that retirement “thing”. Ah, Cora, so many questions….

      Thanks for coming by, as always, thanks,
      Dawn

      • That has been a question for centuries, I think, Dawn. As we reach our elder years, we question the whole financial thing. Kids today constantly hear about saving for their future, being “fianancially secure,” “independent”, etc. On the other hand, we have the Wesleys. We have missionaries who give everything and more. What is the Biblical view? As far back as Abraham, we see those who have more and they seem to have been blessed with the talent of making what they have increase —- and they give to others — just as Abraham was generous to Lot and his family. Joseph was wise and built storehouses when famine was coming. God used that wisdom to bring his family back together. And we could go on through Scripture, finding one passage after another of wise investing, right through the New Testament and the parable of the talents, etc.

        So today? I think of you, Dawn, with your children and grandchildren, their future needs, education, etc. Is it wrong to think of these things? I, for one, think not.
        Only you can examine your own heart and see how tightly you hang on to it and trust in it.

        And the cards? Someone recently posted about leaving little things randomly for people to find. It stuck with me and I now am leaving cards in Dr. offices, etc. If I can encourage just one person to look to the Lord in their time of greatest need, then I have accomplished something. Funny how things come full circle. I used to do a “hug ministry” where I sent cards to missionaries every month. I should do that again, too. I really forgot how much an “in your hands” card meant to people!!!!

  2. to give all we have and all we are for Christ’s service….
    this was a beautiful post this morning Dawn, We have so great a cloud of witnesses.
    My daughter’s plane was two hours late from Vancouver so arrived past midnight in NY and the shuttle transfer she had already paid for wouldn’t come for another six hours. God placed a lady there to help her who from NY, had just visited our area to be a motivational speaker and having a couple of infants herself (tucked at home with her husband) she saw Shoshi’s plight. She offered to take her home then they agreed it would be better to get her to the hotel she was expected at so she could take her shuttle in the morning, She gave 50 of the $150 dollars for the taxi and sent her on her way…
    So many people giving so generously…
    may we give our all…

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