In the first century people didn’t have savings accounts or retirement accounts. There were no banks or investment groups. Today, this is where our accumulated wealth exists. But people in the first century had money in the form of currency; they had coins. But their accumulated wealth was in their possessions; their homes; their furnishings; their stuff. In Luke 12, Jesus tells them to sell their stuff; to take from their accumulated wealth and give it away.
Here’s what he’s saying, he’s saying, “I call you not just to give out of your everyday currency, your checking account, I call you to be willing to dip into your savings, your investments, your CD’s, your money market accounts, your retirement accounts, and give. I call you to be willing to lower your net worth by giving generously.”
This is radical.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, “If our charities (our giving) do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”
In other words Lewis is saying, “there should be some things you’d like to buy or do that you can’t because the amount of money you’re giving away makes impossible for you to buy that or do that activity.”
John Wesley was an 18th century preacher and theologian. He and his brother Charles are credited with establishing the Methodist movement. In his first year as a pastor Wesley earned $30,000. The next year he earned $35,000 dollars. God continued to bless his ministry until in his best year Wesley earned $1.4 million. Even though Wesley’s income reached staggering numbers, every year Wesley lived on $28,000. When Wesley was making $50,000 a year he lived on 28,000 and gave away 22,000. When Wesley was making 75,000 a year he was living on 28 and giving away 47. When Wesley made 1.4 million dollars, he lived on 28,000 gave away 1,372,000.
On the subject of money he once said, “When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart.”
This is an incredibly radical idea that may be some of you have never heard before. So how do you get there? How do you overcome greed and get to the place where you’re willing dip into savings and investments in order to give? We’ll look at that next time…