Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can
Now, being a mostly sensible woman, I respect John Wesley, of course. I love reading about him.
Wesley had gone to Georgia with James Oglethorpe to work as a missionary to the Indians. He soon returned to England in despair and wrote, “I went to America to convert the Indians; but O who will convert me!” On the ship going to Georgia, Wesley had met Moravian immigrants and was impressed by their spiritual strength and joy in the Lord. Back in England, as Wesley struggled with his own sinfulness and need of salvation, he received spiritual counsel from the Moravian Peter Boehler. On May 24, 1738, during a meeting at Aldersgate, Wesley experienced God’s saving grace and wrote, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins.”
But O who will convert me? Nearly 250 years ago, Wesley realizes that one can be a Christian, even a clergyman, as he was and not yet converted, not yet fully turned to Christ, fully surrendered. What is total conversion? Total surrender to the will of God, beautifully described in a wonderful biography of Oswald Chambers, “Abandoned to God.” Am I totally converted? I would love to be, but am still in the process of surrendering the nooks and crannies of my mind, emotions and life to God.
However, I strongly disagree with Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can. The statement makes me angry, and if it was not John Wesley who said it, I would have said it was a wicked statement.
I think of an opposite image from a biography of George Mueller. George Mueller visits the poor in Bristol. He visits a man who works 16 hours a day in a mill, and works on Sundays too at other things. He tells him not to work so hard. The man says he must. He must provide for his wife and children.
And so Mueller decides not to ask any one for money but God alone. “To move man through God by prayer alone,” as Hudson Taylor (whose ministry Mueller supported generously!!) put it. Mueller reasoned that if people saw that God provided for his needs and the needs of his orphans in response to prayer, they would realize that they too did not need to work in such an unhealthy fashion.
Wesley’s dictum is just the opposite–as if man were no more than a machine, wedded to the monotonous treadmill of getting and saving, getting and saving, albeit to give it away.
I find the saying so outrageous that it makes my blood boil. Why would anyone advocate so unbalanced a life–Make all you can? At present, we own the sort of business where the more you work, the more you make. Because life is so much more than money, we have set limits–both on how much we work (less than half the hours that society considers a normal workday—society’s current work day leaves little time or energy for “living”) and on how much we make. We have set an income cap, which we have shared with others for accountability. When we reach that, we cut back on our already reduced work hours, substituting them even further with reading, gardening, service, thinking and praying. Will we have the resolve to see it through? I don’t doubt it; leisure is more attractive to us than more money.
Giving! Should one work harder just to give it away? I don’t agree. I don’t agree that my only value is my money, or that I should make as much money I can to give it away. If one can live with less money, one can give of oneself and of one’s time to spouse, children, friends, and in ministry.
So many Christians I know are hideously overworking in this current climate of fear of cuts and a double dip recession. Working long hours, coming home after the children’s dinner and bedtime, marriages are under strain.
How brilliant it would be to scale back, to work humane hours that leave time to see the sun and one’s children, to pray and read and think and garden, and trust God with one’s lifeand wealth—which after all comes from God–though to watch us work, we often forget that!!