John Wesley’s Works of Mercy – Individual Practices – Giving Generously to the Needs of Others
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
Giving to the needs of others means that we will live in a disciplined manner, limiting the consumerism that surrounds us.
I am reminded of this when I look for an empty hanger in my closet, and see how my clothes are crammed together. Or when my daughters come home and look at the expiration dates on my food condiments. Or move a stack of books to another room, because there is no space on my bookshelves.
Two things that I am trying to make a regular practice in my life is reducing recreational shopping and appreciating the beauty of clothing, art, furniture, or anything without the need to own it.
Two years ago, a friend challenged herself to spend $50 per month on groceries during January, February and March. While that seemed like a burden to me, I considered my spending habits. I determined not to go into a store unless I knew what I was planning to purchase and hold myself to those items.
What surprised me was that it even impacted the daily task of mail sorting, as all those mail ads went immediately into the round waste file. It also made me aware of the time I dilly-dallied away in a store, hauling my purchases into the house, and finding a place for them.
That practice helped me realize that often I was purchasing an item for its beauty, when I had no use for it, nor a place for it. Having dispersed the households of my parents and Kenne’s parents, we have plenty of “stuff.” Many of these things have sentimental value, but it also helps me realize that our children already have many things to disperse when we move out of the house. My goal is that they will know WHY we had things and how we used them.
By finding ways to simplify our lives, we make room for God to use us as channels of His goods. We are stewards of the wealth that He gives us. He wants us to be like a river, our wealth flowing in and flowing out, not like the Dead Sea, accumulating salty mineral deposits, choking out life.
When we choose to live more simply, with less to care for, we open the opportunity to give more generously.