This Sunday I continue my series of sermons on The United Methodist Way. We will hear Jesus’ words from The Sermon on the Mount on the subject of money — a subject Jesus talked about a lot. Out of the 38 parables, 16 were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing 1 out of 10 verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. Jesus dealt with money matters because money matters. According to Jesus and other biblical writers, money is a spiritual issue. Jesus said:
“Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how terrible that darkness will be! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. [Matthew 6:19-24, Common English Bible]
The United Methodist Way is the way of stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us, including money. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, had important things to say about the role of money, possessions, and giving. His advice to people of faith was pretty straightforward: “Earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can.”
He said, “‘The love of money,’ we know, ‘is the root of all evil;’ but not the thing itself. The fault does not lie in the money, but in them that use it. It may be used ill: and what may not? But it may likewise be used well.” He went on to say:
“[Money] is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, [clothing] for the naked: It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!”
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we continue to think about who we are and what we are called to be as United Methodist Christians.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,