Did you know that John Wesley was one of the England’s wealthiest preachers in the 1700s? You wouldn’t have been able to tell by the way he dressed or the house he lived in, though. John Wesley may have been rich, but he lived on next to nothing.
You see, John Wesley gave himself an income cap: he promised before God to live on what would today be the equivalent of $20,000 and give any additional income to the poor. The first year, he made just few thousand extra to give away. But the next year, his income nearly doubled, and Wesley was able to give away more than half of what he made in a year. One year, Wesley was able to give away the equivalent of close to $130,000.
Can you imagine? The modern day Randy Alcorn has a similar story which he details in his book The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving. He has watched sales of his books and other ministry items soar as he has committed himself to giving every penny of profit away.
I love that. We’re basically making what we can live on right now, and any spare change is paying off debt. When we’re done with debt, we could pat ourselves on the back and loose the reigns on our spending. Or we could continue to live the modest life we are living now, with all of our needs met, and give the rest away.
If we had no debt, we could have already given close to $10,000 away in the last 11 months. $10,000 and we barely surpass the federal poverty level. How in the world do we have such affluence as to have $10,000 in spare change????
In Mark 10, Jesus tells a rich man that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven he must sell all of his possessions and give to the poor. In Luke 12 he tells his disciples the same thing. In 1 Timothy 6 we are warned that the desire (not even the actual fact of being but the desire itself) lends itself to destruction in our life.
While we are pursuing greater comfort, even nicer luxuries, better vacations, brand new technology to watch our movies and check facebook on, etc. billions and billions of people are dying of starvation, lacking the very basic necessities of living. The fact that I sleep on a comfy (pillow top) mattress lands me in the top 10% of the world’s richest people. That’s a luxury!
Not that I am suggesting we all sell our pillow top mattresses and start sleeping on the floor. But I am saying this: are we aware of the great luxury and blessing in our life? Are we aware of our surplus? I get caught up daily in the desire to have a better car, have my own house, and have nicer things, but fail to realize how much I really do have.
What if Mike and I can continue to live on $20,000 a year, even after we get out of debt? What if we commit to a certain number, cap our lifestyles off, and give to the poor? I wonder how many starving children I can provide food for? Or how many of those dying from preventable diseases I can get medicine to? How many people I can be the hands and feet of Jesus to in a dying and dark world? How much of His glory will He allow me to be the conduit of?
$10,000 could go a long way. And I bet he could do even more than that through us if we are willing and obedient.
What if we all gave ourselves a salary cap? $25,000 a year? $30,000 a year? How much could we give away? How many miracles might we witness? How much treasure can we store up in heaven where it cannot be stolen or destroyed?
I think I want to find out…