John Wesley was a major player, in the 18th Century revival, that gave birth to the Methodist Movement in England. He was one of the nine children of Samuel Wesley, an Anglican priest, in one of England’s lowest-paying parishes.
The responsibility of supporting nine children, with very low income, kept his father unavoidably under debt. On one occasion, John witnessed, how his father was dragged to the prison, because of debt. However, John Wesley grew to become one of England’s wealthiest men. His Net Worth over his lifetime was estimated as $50M. While an individual could live comfortably on 30 pounds a year, John Wesley’s annual income grew to 1,400 pounds. John Wesley became reckless with spending, because he had so much money at his disposal.
Something happened to him, while working as a lecturer at Oxford University, that changed his perspective about money. One of the chambermaids approached him, as he was getting back to his room, with some pictures he has just bought.
He noticed that the lady did not have anything to protect herself, except a thin linen gown. He reached into his pocket to give her some money to get a coat, but discovered what was left in his pocket was not enough to buy a coat.
Immediately, he realized, that the Lord was not pleased with the way he has been spending his money. From this incident, John Wesley started reducing his spending, so that he could always have enough to assist the poor. He taught the people three rules about money. 1) Gain all you can, 2) Save all you can, 3) Give all you can.
Below are five scriptures that informed John Wesley’s money spending principles:
(1Ti 5:8 NKJV) But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1Ti 6:8 NKJV) “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
According to John Wesley, “Whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place to lay his head, and something over, is rich,”
(Rom 12:17 YLT) “giving back to no one evil for evil; providing right things before all men.
(Rom 13:8 NKJV) Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
John Wesley identified creditors as the major claim on Believer’s income, and he suggested, that business people should have enough tools, asset, or funds for the running of their business.
(Gal 6:10 NKJV) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Wesley believed, that after a believer has met his family financial obligation, settled the creditors, and satisfied his business demands, the next obligation is generosity towards those who have needs.
John Wesley further shared four questions, that guided his financial decision-making as a believer.
Reference: Charles Edward White (1987) What Did Wesley Practice And Preach About Money” (West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church)