On the Use of Money

"On the Use of Money"

by Pastor Alex

“Dollar bills, y’all!”……“Almighty dollar”……“Call it lean, mean, mean green”

Perhaps you recognize some of the lines from the O’Jays’ classic song, For the Love of Money. If none of them ring a bell, I’m sure the notorious line will sound familiar – “money, money, money, monnnnneeeeyyyy……(MONEY!)”

Money is not what I originally intended to write about this week, but talk of money seems to be popping up everywhere. News segments are filled with reports of Federal stimulus, falling markets, rising unemployment and numerous shortages of everyday items. One example of these shortages hit me pretty hard. A video clip highlighted a mom who had gone to the grocery store in search of diapers for her baby. Unfortunately, all she found was empty shelves.

Real world examples of shortages have flooded my mind with questions. I find myself asking, “Why do we hoard food and supplies, when others have none?” “How have I been so apathetic to the needs that existed well before this crisis?” But, the most pressing question is, “What can I do now?”

Searching for answers, I’m reminded of one of John Wesley’s sermons that I first encountered in seminary. Its title is not eye catching or interesting, simply labeled, On the Use of Money. The directives aren’t complex either. Wesley takes up the pen worried that people of faith didn’t know how best to use their money and possessions. He writes, “An excellent branch of Christian wisdom is here inculcated by our Lord on all his followers, namely, the right use of money -- a subject largely spoken of, after their manner, by men of the world; but not sufficiently considered by those whom God hath chosen out of the world.” The old English is tough to wade through, but for those brave enough to tackle the whole thing, I’ve posted a link below.

In his sermon, Wesley focuses on Luke 16:1-9. It tells the story of a financial manager who knew he was going to be fired. Worried how he will fare when he is unemployed, he quickly makes the rounds forgiving debts of anyone who owed money to his master. This way, he would earn favor with the debtors, and could cash in the good will later, when he is out of work. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus uses this story to encourage his disciples to be equally shrewd with how they use their money.

Both Wesley and Jesus focus on the use of money, making my question even more pressing. Still, I wonder: What can I do now, and how can I use my resources to make a difference in the middle of this crisis? How can I put my money to work in the best way?

Well, this study is called “Divine Moments, in Disordered Days” and this week I certainly experienced one of those divine moments. Hoping that our money will pull double duty, Jess and I have been trying to support local businesses in the middle of the Stay-at-Home order. Ordering meals out is one of the ways we’ve tried to make that happen. Our hope is that by ordering from local restaurants, we can keep money local. Additionally, we like that it creates an opportunity to generously tip a delivery driver.

This week, the divine moment happened when I opened the front door to receive our lunch. After handing over the food and receipt, the delivery person thanked me before walking back to his car. But, it was different than the usual “thanks!” It was heartfelt, appreciative, and he genuinely thanked us for our business. I walked away touched by the sincerity of such a human moment. I hope that the right use of money had something to do with making it happen.

If I’m honest, I have a hard time spending so much on food I could have made at home, but that’s not quite the point. My hope is that all of Jess and I’s efforts - lunch time orders, cookies baked for neighbors, donations given to relevant charities – will accomplish what Wesley implored us to do. “But employ whatever God has entrusted you with, in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree to the household of faith, to all men!”

With the topic on everyone’s mind, there’s no better time to use our resources for “all possible good, in every possible kind and degree”. I’m sure you’re creative enough to come up with some of your own ideas, but here are some of my suggestions… Go to the grocery store, and only buy what you need. Give to a charity, or donate blood. Make a gift for an essential worker. This is just a start, and I hope you will be infinitely more imaginative than me.

Prayer: Dear Lord teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will. Amen.

- St. Ignatius, Prayer for Generosity -

This Week’s Challenge

- Be generous and use what you have for good. This week, pick one good thing to do with your money or possessions

- Meditate on Proverbs 11:24-25 - “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." (ESV)

- Many times our generosity and giving originates from a thankfulness and gratitude in our own soul. Spend some time thinking about what you are grateful for, even as the world seems crazy and disorganized.