The following account of George Muller's "Money Principles" is taken from a short biography of Muller written by John Dunn. For more excerpts from this book, click here.
1830 was also an important year for Müller in that he defined in his heart many principles of living which came to be foundational for the remainder of his days. He decided never to receive a salary as a minister of God but to trust the Lord implicitly for all his financial needs. He believed that being on a salary placed a wrong burden on others and led some—especially the poor—into a bondage in their obligation to support him. “A brother may gladly give something towards my support if the choice is up to him. But when he has other expenses, I do not know whether he pays his money grudgingly or cheerfully, and God loves a cheerful giver.... Fear of offending those who pay his salary has kept many ministers from preaching the uncompromising Word of God”.
Müller therefore determined that any monies provided for him should be entirely voluntary. Moreover, since he did not want people to be handing him money publicly he instituted a gift box at the rear of the church. Giving would thus be in the sight of God alone.
There would be no risk of ‘sinful pride or false humility’. Further, Müller determined not to ask anyone for money. In no way would he even hint at his needs to others. His requests for financial and material needs would be directed to the Lord alone. He noted in his journal that “to come to this conclusion before God required more grace than to give up my salary”.
An example will illustrate Müller’s principle of not asking anyone for money. He records an occasion when he and his wife had only a few shillings in hand. “I had asked the brethren to please let me have the money in the [gift] box every week. But either they forgot to take it out weekly or were ashamed to bring such small sums. It was generally taken out every three to five weeks. I explained that I desired to look neither to man nor the box but to God. Therefore, I decided not to remind them of my request to have the money weekly, lest it hinder the testimony I wished to give of trusting in God alone. On January 28, we had little money again although I had seen a brother open the box and take out the money four days earlier. But I would not ask him to let me have it. When the coals for our fire were almost gone, I asked the Lord to incline the brother’s heart to bring the money to us. Shortly afterwards, it was given to us,
and our temporal needs were supplied”.
Müller’s journal records numerous occasions during which his faith was stretched to the limit. There were times when the Müllers had nothing—not one penny to their name—and yet never a day closed with them in want. He recorded story after story of money arriving just as they needed it, and in just the right amount. Driven more and more to prayer, the Müllers were discovering the great blessing of trusting the Lord alone for all their temporal needs.
Of course many criticised Müller for living in this way, saying that such an emphasis on asking the Lord daily for money must, of necessity, take his thoughts away from the important spiritual issues of life. He replied to his critics: “Trusting the Lord for the supply of my temporal needs keeps me from anxious thoughts like: ‘Will my salary last and will I have enough for the next month?’ In this freedom I am able to say: ‘My Lord is not limited. He knows my present situation, and He can supply all I need’. Rather than causing anxiety, living by faith in God alone keeps my heart in perfect peace”. At the end of the first year of his ‘experiment of faith’ he testified that the Lord had “richly supplied all our temporal wants, though at the commencement we had no certain human prospect of a single shilling, so that......we have not been in the smallest degree a loser in acting according to the dictates of conscience. The Lord dealt bountifully with me, and condescended to use me as an instrument in doing His work”.
Another principle of life which formed in his mind was that he would never go into debt. He always paid in cash and if he could not afford something then he would go without. He would never borrow, and he would therefore owe no man anything.
He also came to regard money in hand as being for a designated purpose. It was not to be diverted to other so-called ‘emergencies’. He would not therefore save up money for a ‘rainy day’. He would not hoard funds for any unforseen contingency. He reasoned that ‘with God no emergency is unforseen and no want unprovided for’.
These principles, intelligently and prudently adopted, became the trademark of Müller’s life work from that point onwards. He put great emphasis on the matter of conscience, determining to keep his clear before God and man in everything regarding money and material wealth. In this regard, his life of faith was no less a life of conscience. He exercised faith and trust in God, but at the same time he exercised truth and faithfulness towards his fellow man.