It’s all Greek, Wesley says, when it comes to Jesus’ commands about money

October 14, 2013

Just in time for my sermon series on financial stewardship, my friend Kevin Hargaden tweeted me in the direction of this fine performance of the John Wesley sermon “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon On The Mount: Discourse Eight.” It’s a condensed form of the sermon, mostly coming from paragraph 9.

It reminds me that we Methodists would benefit greatly from reading Wesley’s sermons (many of which help form our church’s “doctrinal standards”). It also reminds me of how much I appreciate Wesley’s wit and sarcasm. When we consider how they faithfully they carry out most of our Lord’s teachings, Wesley says, European Christians have little if any advantage over the “Heathens of Africa and America”—the heathens may only be slightly superior.

For instance: the generality of the natives of England, commonly called Christians, are as sober and as temperate as the generality of the heathens near the Cape of Good Hope. And so the Dutch or French Christians are as humble and as chaste as the Choctaw or Cherokee Indians. It is not easy to say, when we compare the bulk of the nations in Europe with those in America, whether the superiority lies on the one side or the other. At least the American has not much the advantage.

Not so concerning the Lord’s command to “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth”:

Here the heathen has far the pre-eminence. He desires and seeks nothing more than plain food to eat and plain raiment to put on. And he seeks this only from day to day. He reserves, he lays up nothing; unless it be as much corn at one season of the year as he will need before that season returns. This command, therefore, the heathens, though they know it not, do constantly and punctually observe. They “lay up for themselves no treasures upon earth;” no stores of purple or fine linen, of gold or silver, which either “moth or rust may corrupt”, or “thieves break through and steal.” But how do the Christians observe what they profess to receive as a command of the most high God Not at all! not in any degree; no more than if no such command had ever been given to man… It might as well be still hid in its original Greek for any notice they take of it.

The actor playing Wesley is a good-looking guy. If they want my wife to watch Wesley’s sermons, however, they need to cast Colin Firth!

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