Gain All You Can
By Pastor Pete Grassow
Genesis 1:26-29 /Matthew 25:14-30
26 Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble us so that they may take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and all the crawling things on earth.”
27 God created humanity in God’s own image,
in the divine image God created them,[a]
male and female God created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and master it. Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground.” 29 Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food.
play to 1:23.
I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain't it sad?
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That's too bad
…..Money, money, money
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
The ongoing problem of life – we could do with a little more money! Not new – the founder of the Methodist Movement – John Wesley – preached about money And he did so because Jesus preached about money – a lot! So we will spend the month of October thinking about money….. using the stories of Jesus and the theology of John Wesley.
John Wesley tells Methodist people this about money:
Gain all you can
Save all you can
Give all you can
Will spread this over the next three weeks. (There is a booklet available that gives more about John Wesley, his history & his teaching)
Today’s is: “Earn as much as you can………”
Which is really a no-brainer – Imagine if you applied for a job and when you discussed your salary you said – pay me a little as you can: of course I want to earn as much as I can! Listen to a story that Jesus told:
Parable of the valuable coins (Matthew 25)
14 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. 15 To one he gave five valuable coins,[a] and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey. 16 “After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. 18 But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19 “Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’ 22 “The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’ 24 “Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25 So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! …..(CEB)
Jesus says: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a man who takes what he has been given and works hard to multiply it. ”
John Wesley says to good Methodists “Gain all you can”.
This is the culture we live in …. Advertising, social media influencers and our employers all persuade us that growing our wealth, and getting more stuff, is the sign of a successful life.
And there are many, many Christian preachers who preach this: I have heard preachers say that getting rich is a sign of God’s blessing.
I recently saw a YouTube video where a pastor bragged that he was a multimillionaire with a Lear jet parked outside. And I find myself disappointed with Jesus – and John Wesley – and with all the pastors who collect wealth. Surely there is more to our existence than “collecting yet more stuff”
And the answer is ……Yes – of course there is! Jesus and John Wesley do not suggest that we should be gathering stuff as a sign of success…..they both speak about giving away everything we manage to accumulate! We will come back to this over the next few weeks.
For today – we ask questions about the way we gather wealth. Jesus says that there is a morality attached to gathering wealth:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them”
Jesus tells a story – but as always there is an underlying moral. Here is Jesus saying that just like the man who handed over his possessions to his servants – the Creator of the World has handed us this world. We do not own the world we live in: we are stewards of God’s world.
Reminded of a story:
Three boys in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers:
“My Dad’s a doctor, and he is so good that that he gets paid in 100 dollar bills”
“My Dad’s a lawyer, and he is so good that he gets many expensive gifts.
The pastor’s kid does not want to be outdone so he rushes in “My dad’s a Pastor and he is good for nothing”.
The culture we live in wants to rank people in terms of wealth: the more wealth – the more important you are, and conversely the poorer you are the less you matter.
2. We Represent God in our work
The passage we read earlier says that we were made partners with the Creator.
Genesis 1:28: Take charge of the fish of the sea, the birds in the sky, and everything crawling on the ground
We represent God in our work in this world. God will ask us what we have done with what we are given. It will be really tough if one day when our Creator asks what we did with the things we were given – if we said – well I did nothing! I buried it.
3. The Money we earn is to be God’s blessing John Wesley thought about the way Jesus taught on Money – and adds a further teaching: Wesley said that Methodists must not earn money at the expense of our conscience. He noted that there are many different ways of earning money – and some involve unethical business practices. Wesley believed the Methodists must earn all they can by what he called “honest industry”…... (And he included cheating on taxes in those activities that are harmful to our souls). If we are the reflection of the image of God in our world, then we need to work in the same way that God did: our work should be a blessing for all people. And when people look at what we have done, then we should hear an echo of the words in Genesis: they should say that the work we do is very good.
Methodist people built a reputation for the excellence of their work, and found themselves in demand for employment. I am challenging us to do the same today.
Use the gifts that God has given you. Work hard and earn as much as you can. But work in a way that shows that you are a partner with God – be ethical with your clients, and loving with your colleagues. Wesley saw work not just as a means of income, but also as a witness to our Christian faith: “If these profit the souls of men, you are clear; your employment is good, and your gain innocent”.