Save All You Can… With Humility
Please pray with me: Loving God, we ask you for wisdom in our lives and pray that this might be a time of encouragement and understanding for us all. Where these words are a blessing, may we be blessed. Where they go astray, I pray that no harm would be done.
"Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple." I have to say, this verse has haunted me for much of my adult life. I have found it scary to ever consider abandoning those I love for my faith. I know that hating them, as translated here and as we understand hate, would be impossible for me. But as we look at this verse in context and grapple with the original language we can breathe a bit easier. The word miseo in Greek is what we are translating here as “hate” and it is really talking about conflict between the two values rather than a form of dislike, anger, or violent feeling. Also, Jesus keeps talking about love throughout his ministry, so the idea of Jesus preaching hate is a bit incongruent. We are expected to put our faith ahead of other interests, including when our families ask us to do things that contradict our faith. It makes much more sense when we think of it in the manner of the rest of the passage - counting the cost. Being a disciple of Jesus is a whole life experience and we should take into account what is expected of us and what will transform in us before we sign on.
Count the cost. This month we are talking about John Wesley’s sermon The Use of Money. As I said last week, I encourage everyone to read the sermon. It is available on our new website and there are also hard copies in the back of the church. We’re taking his three part sermon in three parts. Last week we talked about gaining all we can, honestly, with integrity, and with a solid life-work balance. This week we’re talking about saving all we can. Next week we will be talking about giving all we can.
So where are we with counting the cost and saving all we can? Wesley comes down hard on people’s vanity in this section. Don’t buy stuff for the sake of pride. No keeping up with the Joneses - it’ll just leave us bitter and empty - not to mention potentially broke. Wesley invites us to keep it simple and to teach our children the same. He even has a few pointed words to say about leaving money to our children. Be careful, he says, not to leave money to a child who will stumble because of it.
One of the significant things that Wesley has to say is about spending money frivolously is language that today we would compare to an addiction.
“Nothing can be more certain than this: Daily experience shows, the more they are indulged, they increase the more.” Sounds like an addiction to me! When we purchase something we get a dopamine hit and the product of this is not satisfaction but the desire to feel it again and again. Shopping is very much an addiction, as is gluttony and greed of every kind. As Methodists, we have a model for avoiding such addiction. We are encouraged to live simply and save as much as we can.
Let’s meet some characters now and see what the Wesleyan School of Economics has to say on a case by case basis...