In a feeble attempt to teach my children a lesson, Renee, my wife, taught our toddler children the sign language for “more.” It was easy enough. We didn’t want our children just to think they could grunt, point and get what they wanted. And it seemed that they always wanted more. More crackers. More cookies. More attention. Now that our children are older, it hasn’t stopped. They learned to annunciate, articulate, and annoy with that pesky four-letter word – “More.” At times they just never seemed satisfied.
There is a desire in our human nature to always want to be filled. I’m not that much different. The advertising industry knows all of us give into the temptation of “more.” Why do we need a cell phone that takes perfect digital pictures, plays movies, checks the football scores, plays games, sends e-mail, texts, updates Facebook and tweets? We don’t need it, but we want it. The new iphone looks like magic compared to that old flip phone we have been using. We want more.
More isn’t always bad. Even when it comes to making money, making more money isn’t bad.
In John Wesley’s sermon on Luke 16:9, “The Use of Money” Wesley expressed that the Christian has a “bonded duty to gain all you can.” Wesley challenges us to “do no harm” while we make gain. Yet he also challenges Christians to work hard and be industrious and make money! We should make more.
Wesley also tells us to “save all we can.” Most of us, when quoting the wise Mr. Wesley miss the point of this second piece of advice from his sermon. For Wesley this didn’t mean that we should pad our bank accounts. Wesley instructs Christians to be frugal. Don’t waste your money. As if saving money isn’t hard enough, Wesley warns Christians not to waste our money on the sensuous, on expensive food or on that which appealed to the eye, like expensive and gaudy clothing, elaborate homes, fancy gardens, extraordinary decoration, expensive paintings, and other showy things. Ouch! I wonder what Wesley would think about Starbucks, Apple computers, SUVs, Abercrombie and Fitch, and all the other things that catch our eye. I would have preferred the meaning of “Save all you can” be a warning about saving, yet it strikes deeper to our desire to want “more.” We should save more.
Finally Wesley tells us we should gain more and save more, so we can use the money to give more. He instructs us to “Give all you can.” His sermon says we should give to meet our basic needs and the needs of our family and our employees. He then says we should give to support our local church, our “household of faith.” Finally, we should give to other people in need. In fact, Wesley switched the wording in this final instruction from “give all you can” to “give all you have.” Wesley practiced what he preached. Though he made a tremendous amount of money ($1.4 million in today’s money in just one year), he died with only a few miscellaneous coins and a couple silver spoons. He had given away the rest. We should give more.
This isn’t just pious proclamation and ministering meddling. Wesley didn’t know it, but recent studies have concluded that making more, spending less, and giving all you have is good for both your soul and your well-being. In “Whey Good Things Happen to Good People,” Stephen Post, Ph.D, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, and journalist Jill Newkirk express the results of a study that proves giving is better than receiving. Studies in the nation’s top universities prove the positive benefits of giving more: Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced, physical health is improved, and well-being is increased. The research highlighted a 50-year study that concluded people who give during their high school years continue that behavior with better mental and physical health throughout their lives. Other studies find that people of all ages who give on a regular basis feel happier.
“Where your treasure is…” That’s right. Often the treasure is in having more. But what really matters is how we use the more we have. If we want more so that we can have more and more and more for ourselves then our hearts may fail us. If we want to gain more and save more so that we can give more and invest in others, our hearts will flourish and so will our lives. There is no greater return on investment.
Question: Is it really more blessed to give than receive?
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