There are four passages in which His money teachings group, largely.
There's the "Lay-not-up-for-yourselves-treasure-upon-the-earth" bit in the
sermon on the Mount; with the still stronger phrase in the Luke
parallel, "Sell that ye have, and give." There is the incident of the
earnest young man who was rich; the parable of the wealthy farmer in
Luke, twelfth chapter; and the whole sixteenth chapter of Luke, with
that great ninth verse, whose full meaning has been so little grasped. The
truth taught in each of these is practically the same thing.
The Master is evidently talking about what a man has over and above his
personal and family needs. It's a law of life, from Eden on, that a man
should work to supply his daily needs and the needs of those dependent
upon him. Just how much that word "needs" means each man settles for
himself. It means different things at different times to the same man.
It is surprising how little it can be made to mean when the pinch comes,
and yet a man have all actual necessities supplied. The man who would have
his life count for most for the Master, and the Master's plan, thinks over
that word prayerfully and sensibly with full regard to personal strength,
and loved ones, and the future. Whatever it may be made to mean, this
teaching is plainly about what is left over after the needs are met.
Now, about that left-over amount the Master gives three easily understood
rules, or bits of advice, or commands. First: Don't treasure it up for
the sake of having it. If you do it is in danger, and you are in danger.
It may be stolen. Every vault, and safe, and safety-deposit company, and
lock, and key backs up that statement. Or it may be lost through rust or
moths, the two things that threaten all inactivity. The stuff that isn't
in use wears away. The wear of use can't compare with the wear of disuse
Then you are in danger of your heart being affected. It will be wherever
your treasure is. It may get locked up, and so dried up for lack of air or
poisoned by bad air. The blood must have fresh air. The heart must have
touch with men to keep its vigor. It may get all dried up with things,
instead of keeping vigorous by touch with needy men. That's the twofold
danger. That's the first thing Jesus says: Don't store it up, down here,
in the ordinary way.
The second thing is this: Store your surplus up. Be careful of it. Keep
strict tally. Let the books be well kept and balanced. Let no
thoughtlessness nor carelessness nor thriftlessness get in. Store it up.
But be careful where you store it. Keep it carefully guarded against the
action of thieves and moths, and against the inaction of decaying,
destroying rust. That is the second thing. Store it up carefully.
Be Your Own Executor.
The third thing is this: Store it up by means of exchange. Keep it safe
by giving it away. The whole value of money is in exchange. It must be
kept moving. But, but - and the whole heart of the teaching is here - be
very wary about your exchanges. Invest your money in men, wherever the
need may be. All that you invest wisely in men is stored up against any
violence or craftiness of thieves and any corroding of rust.
All that is not out in active use directly among men, for men, in Jesus'
name, is in danger of being stolen, or of decaying, or of injuring you, or
of being left behind, utterly worthless to you when you are through down
here. Be your own executor.
Some years ago one of the religious papers of New York City told of the
death of a maiden lady named Elizabeth Pellit. Her home was in the
hall-room of a tenement-house, and at her death all her earthly
possessions could be put into one common trunk. No executor or
administrator was needed. Living in narrow circumstances, her friends
thought she had denied herself all luxuries and even many comforts. But in
the forty years of her Christian life she had been able to give over
thirty thousand dollars to missionary work. She had supplied the money to
send out and sustain one missionary in Salvador, and also for another who
was to go out soon. She seemed to have grasped the meaning of the Master's
Good common sense comes in for free play here, both in adjusting one's
personal and family schedule and in giving. Giving may be done foolishly,
or not wisely. There is no place where there is more room for good sense
in avoiding both the extreme of unwise giving and the other extreme of
handicapping one's gifts.
It is a question of personal judgment how far to give money out directly
and how far to invest some of it and use the income wholly in gifts. You
may think that in some directions you can invest it better, and direct the
income better than some organization. That is an important detail. But the
chief thing is that the money itself is dedicated wholly for use out among
Now you will please mark keenly that in all this I am not talking about
what I think about money. I am simply putting into plain talk Jesus' own
teaching about it, in these four great passages.
Missing the Master's Meaning.
Christian men, generally, seem to have missed the meaning of Jesus' words.
I think it due largely to the lack of teaching in the Church that
world-evangelizing is a first obligation.
Recently a fire destroyed the home of a man of large wealth who lives some
distance east of San Francisco. It was a beautiful palace, full of art
treasures. The value of house and furnishings and the art collection was
reckoned at about two million dollars. He is a Christian man, prominently
identified with active Christian work, and reckoned a liberal giver. He
has visited foreign-mission lands, and made special gifts to missions.
But his gifts to missions seem like a copper cent or a silver quarter
given to a beggar in contrast with the two million dollars tied up for
himself in the house that burned. Two millions stored up in a home, while
many millions of men have lived and died in ignorance of the light and
peace that comes with Jesus! Yet this man calls Jesus his Master, and
sincerely, I have no doubt. And his Master said the one great thing was to
tell all men of His love and death.
By no extension of the meaning of that word "need" could he be said to
need a two-million-dollar home for himself and family. And there are other
millions under the same man's control. It looks very much as if this good
man had missed the meaning of Jesus' words. The criticism, however, must
be first upon the Church and its leaders, with whose general trend of
teaching this man is in accord. According to the Master's teaching, most
of the money in his house, and stored up in other ways of the sort for
himself, is being lost. Far more serious, the opportunity of investment in
men is being lost. That money will be all loss to him when he reaches the
line of departure over into the next sphere of life.
It is very difficult to use such an illustration from life. There is
danger that the words will sound critical in a bad or unkind sense. I
earnestly pray to be kept from that. You will know that I am talking to
myself first of all; and speaking of this only to help. The bother is that
this man is not an exception. Rather he represents the habit and standard
of his generation.
I recall another Christian man as I speak, of large wealth, by inheritance
and by dint of business keenness. His face showed plainly his fine
Christian character. He gave liberally in many directions, sometimes very
large sums. But he lived in a home whose value ran close to a half-million
of dollars. When he died, full of years and honors, he left many millions
to a son who does not inherit his father's generous hand with his wealth.
Of course, the son didn't need the vast wealth.
And I wondered, silently, within my heart, how things looked to that man,
as he slipped out of life up into the Master's presence, and looked down
on the earth through the eyes of the One whose teaching we have been
talking about. He could see China and India and Africa then as plainly as
How did the lost opportunity of laying up his treasure in the lives of men
look to him then, I wondered. He was a good man. I saw him smile once, and
his face seemed to shine as an angel's. I think probably no faithful
friend had ever talked to him of the plain meaning of Jesus' words, and of
world-winning being a first obligation. He hadn't been taught it from
the pulpit. And he hadn't thought into it himself.
Many are losing a great opportunity of silently preaching Jesus to their
fellows by their habit of giving. Two men were discussing the evidences of
the Christian religion. The one was a Christian; the other not, and
inclined to be sceptical. Arguments were freely exchanged. At last the
sceptic, who was a blunt, out-spoken man, said frankly, to his friend and
neighbor: "I think we might as well drop this matter. For I don't believe
a word you say. And, more than that, I am quite satisfied in my own mind
that you do not really believe it yourself. For to my certain knowledge
you have not given, the last twenty years, as much for the spread of
Christianity, such as the building of churches and foreign and domestic
missions, as your last Durham cow cost. Why, sir, if I believed what you
say you believe I'd make the church my rule for giving, my farm the
That Christian man's life was contradicting every word he uttered to his
neighbor. Money talks. His was talking very loudly to his sceptical
neighbor. His neighbor was unusually frank in saying out what thousands
are thinking. He had lost a great opportunity of winning his friend.
In a simple little sentence Paul reveals how thoroughly he had grasped
Jesus' meaning. He said, "I am debtor both to Greeks and
barbarians" - to all men. Now that word, "debtor," commonly means two
things: that you have received something of value from some one, and that
therefore you owe him for what he gave to you.
But Paul hadn't gotten anything special from the men of whom he is
speaking. His birth and training and whatever else he had were Jewish. And
the Jews were a minority in the world. He was not under the debtor
obligation of having gotten something from the men he is speaking of.
In his use of that word, "debtor" means three things: first, something
received from God, and that something everything; then something owing to
God; and then that something payable to man. He counted himself in debt
to all men on Jesus' account. And so are we. How much owest thou to thy
Lord? That's how much you are to pay to men on your Lord's account.
We are not even our own, much less our goods. We were bought up when we
were bankrupt A great price was paid for us, even the life-blood of Jesus.
And our Owner bids us pay up by paying out. We are badly and blessedly
in debt; badly, for we can never square the account; blessedly, because we
can be constantly paying on account, out to men in Jesus' name.
"Over against the Treasury this day
The Master silent sits; whilst, unaware
Of that Celestial Presence still and fair,
The people pass or pause upon their way.
And some go laden with His treasures sweet,
And dressed in costly robes of His device
To cover hearts of stone and souls of ice,
Which bear no token to the Master's feet.
And some pass, gaily singing, to and fro,
And cast a careless gift before His face,
Amongst the treasures of the holy place,
But kneel to crave no blessing ere they go.
And some are travel-worn, their eyes are dim,
They touch His shining vesture as they pass,
But see not - even darkly through a glass -
How sweet might be their trembling gifts to Him.
And still the hours roll on; serene and fair
The Master keeps his watch, but who can tell
The thoughts that in His tender spirit swell,
As one by one we pass him unaware?
For this is He who, on one awful day,
Cast down for us a price so vast and dread,
That He was left for our sakes bare and dead,
Having given Himself our mighty debt to pay!
Oh, shall unworthy gifts once more be thrown
Into His treasury - by whose death we live?
Or shall we now embrace His cross, and give
Ourselves, and all we have, to him alone?"
Is not that the meaning of Paul's "Owe no man anything, save to love one
another." We owe a debt of love to all men on Jesus' account. We can
be paying on it continually, and yet never get a receipt in full that
discharges the debt. But then we get other things in full - peace, and joy,
and a life overflowing in fulness.
With an honorable business man a debt is a first obligation. His
personal expenditures and his home schedule are shaped by his debt. The
extras that he would feel quite free in allowing himself and his home are
not allowed until the debt is cleared. The debt controls his spendings
until it is paid off in full. That's reckoned a matter of honor.
James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, had caught the Lord's very language
as well as His thought. He says, "Your gold and silver are rusted, and
their rust shall be for a testimony against you." It would seem as
though there were quite a bit of rusty money entered in Christian names
and controlled by Christian people. It is lying in vaults, and lands, and
savings-societies, and old stockings, gathering rust.
It is in sore need. It needs friction, the friction of use. Without that
its real, rare value will be completely lost. It is furnishing food for
moths when it was meant to be furnishing food for men, bread of wheat and
bread of life. There'll be many a striking scene when some men come up
into the Master's presence with loaded purses, "caught with the goods,"
while millions of their brothers are living such pitiable lives because of
their ignorance of Jesus.
But there are men who do understand. And their number is increasing. There
are those who understand the Master's basis for conducting their
business matters. That basis is shrewd, faithful management of the
business itself as good stewards of God; full, proper provision for home
and loved ones - simple, but ample and intelligent; and then all the rest
out in active service for men in Jesus' name. If that basis were more
largely understood and accepted, what wondrous changes would come; changes
out in the world, and changes in the home, and changes in the home church.
Many men are supporting their own representatives in the foreign field.
Many a church now sustains its own missionary or missionaries. The ideal
toward which the Church might well aim is that every family should have
its own missionary. The real unit of life is the family. The children
would then grow up with the world-vision dearly and deeply marked. There
are thousands of families in circumstances that are reckoned moderate that
could support a missionary by planning. But the relationship should be
carefully kept one of warm sympathy and prayer, as well as one of money.
The reflex blessing upon the home would be immeasurable in its sweetness
Are We True To Our Friend's Trust?
Jesus admits us into the inner circle of friendship. He gives us the one
rarest token of friendship, that is, a task to do for our Friend's sake.
He asks us to go out to all men, and tell them about His love and
sacrifice for them. And He asks that everything we have be held and used
for this sacred friendship trust. Are we being true to our Friend's
trust? Is there more stored away for ourselves than is being sent out on
His errand? Is there any discoloration on our gold? Anything that looks
like rust, a dull-red color - ah, it looks strangely like the color - the
stain - of blood.
Is Judas so lonely, after all? He coupled a token of friendship with a
betrayal of his Friend's trust. In his heart he meant far less than the
act actually involved. Is he so much alone?
"The latest years shall tremble hearing this
And burn for human shame unto the end,
That one of us betrayed the tryst his Friend
Would keep with God. A sign that none might miss
He named - the pledge of love. The soul's abyss,
Christ saw, the heart of night, the purse, the end;
Knew all, a Man, and knowing stui could bend
With soul unpoisoned to receive the kiss.
Before the multitude have I kist Thee
Fresh come from my blood-barter - thou but come
From intercession for all souls - and me.
And, mocking Love Divine, amazed and dumb,
I learn Love's deathlessness, and trembling press
The lips that kiss away my faithlessness."
One Hank Over For the Candle.
Sin's Healing Shadow.
The Underground Way into Life.
A Rare Harvest.
The Fellowship of Scars.
"Won't You Save Me?"
One Hank Over For the Candle.
The light of a common candle in the window of a little cottage near the
coast shone far out over the sea. It was up north of Scotland, in one of
the Orkney Islands. Near the window sat a frail, gray-haired woman with
cheery, thoughtful face. She was busy working at her spinning-wheel, and
watching the candle, turning now and again to trim it. All night long she
sat at the spinning-wheel and watching the candle. Fishermen out on the
water, heading for home, knew that light could be counted on, and came
safely in, past all the dangers of their coast.
For more than fifty years that woman tended her little lighthouse. When
she was a young girl there had been a wild storm, and her father, out in
his fisherman's boat, lost his life. There were no shore-lights. His boat
had struck a huge, dangerous rock called Lonely Rock, and been wrecked.
The father's body was found in the morning washed up on the shore. She
watched by her father's body, as was the habit of her people, until it was
laid away. Then she laid down on her bed and slept the day through. When
night came she rose, lit a candle, put it in the window, drew up her
spinning-wheel, and began her night vigil for the unknown out at sea.
All night long, and all her life long, her vigil of love and light
continued. From youth to old age, through winter and summer, storm and
calm, fog and clear, that humble lighthouse beacon failed not. Each night
she spun so many hanks of yarn for her daily bread, and one hank over for
the candle. She turned night into day, reversing the whole habit of her
life, and holding every other thing subject to her self-imposed task of
love. And through the years many a fisherman out at sea, and many an
anxious woman watching by hearth and crib, sent up heart-felt thanks to
God for that little, steady light. And many a life was saved, of which no
record could be kept.
That tells the whole story of sacrifice. A need, nobody to meet it; the
need passing into an emergency; and that into the tragedy of an unmet
emergency; a heart sore torn to bleeding by the tragedy thrust bitterly
home; then sacrifice, lifelong, that others might be saved where her loved
one was lost, and still others spared what she herself suffered. And that
story has been repeated with endless variations, and is being repeated, in
every land, on every mission-field, home and foreign, and in almost every
home of all the world.
Sin's Healing Shadow.
Sacrifice has come to be a law of life. Wherever there is sin there will
be a call for sacrifice. For sin makes need, and need intensifies into
emergency. And need and emergency mean sacrifice thrust upon some one in
peril. And they call for sacrifice, volunteered by some one, who would
save the man in peril. And wherever there are true men and women, as well
as need, there will be sacrifice.
And sin is everywhere. Even nature is full of evidence of a bad break in
all of its processes. The finger-marks of decay and death are below and
above and all around in all its domain. That is sin's unmistakable
ear-mark. Man's mental powers, and his loss of a full knowledge of his
powers, tell the same story. And so there is need. Everywhere you turn
need's pathetic face, drawn and white, looks piteously into yours,
pleading mutely for help.
And so there is sacrifice. Sacrifice is sin's healing shadow. It follows
sin at every turn, binding up its wounds, pouring in the oil and wine of
its own life, and taking the hurt victims into its own warm heart. Nothing
worth while has ever been done without sacrifice. Every good thing done
cost somebody his life. The life was given out with a wrench under some
sharp tug. Or it was given in the slower, more painful, more taxing way of
being lingeringly given out through years of steadfast doing or enduring.
Every man who has done something worth while for others has spilled some
of his life-blood into it. His work and name may have become known. Or he
may belong to the larger number of blessed faithfuls whose names are
unknown here, but treasured faithfully above. Either way, the tinging red
of his life is upon the thing he did. The nations that are freest cost
most in the making, in the lives of men. Every church, and every mission
station, has had to use red mortar as its walls went up.
Every bit of advance ground gained for liberty and truth has been stained
with the life-blood of the advance-guard. You can depend upon it that
whatever you are to do that will really help must have a bit of your own
self, your very life in it. Immortality of action comes only by the
infusion of human blood.
Sacrifice attends us faithfully from the cradle to the body's last
resting-place. The giving of one's self for others begins with the
beginning of life, and never ends till life ends. Each of us comes into
life through the sacrifice of the mother who bore us. That love-service of
hers would not have been a sacrifice, but only a joy, had sin's cramping,
restricting atmosphere not been breathed into all life. Now, with much
pain, and great danger, and sometimes at the cost of life, it becomes a
sacrifice. Yet it is a sacrifice of great sweet joy to her.
And that same spirit of sacrifice attends our baby years, and childhood
experiences, and school-days, and times of sickness, and our matured
years. The more faithfully those who make up your life-circle yield to the
law of sacrifice, and give of themselves out to you, the finer and
stronger you grow to be, and the sweeter life becomes to you. And every
selfish shirking and shrinking back by some one impoverishes your life by
A hush of awe comes over one's spirit as we recall that even for the Son
of God there was no exception to this law, as He took His place down among
human conditions. It was by His own blood that He saved men, and saves
men. It was the spilling out of His own life that brings such blessed
newness of life to us. His was a living sacrifice through all the years,
and then greatest when that life, so long being given, was given clean
That sacrifice of His stands unapproached, and can never be approached by
any other. His relation to sin was different from that of all other men.
He made a sacrifice for men in a sense that no other can. Yet, while that
is true, it is equally true that every man who follows Him will drink of
His cup of sacrifice.
But it's a cup of joy now, for His drinking drained out all the bitter
dregs. He asks us into the inner fellowship of His suffering. The work He
began isn't yet done. He asks our help. We may fill up the measure of His
sacrifice yet needed, in healing men's wounds and in throttling sin's
The Underground Way Into Life.
The request of the Greek pilgrims, that last tragic week, drew out of
Jesus wondrous words about the law of sacrifice. Their request made
the necessity for His coming sacrifice stand out more sharply to His
view - with edgy sharpness. The realness of that sacrifice of His stands
out very vividly in the intensity of His feelings, of which we get only
Listen to Him talking: 'if the grain of wheat doesn't suffer death, it
lives; but it lives alone. But through death it may live in the midst of a
harvest of golden grains. The man who turns away from the appeal of need
will live a lonely life, both here and in the longer life. (Is there
anything more pathetic and pitiable than selfish loneliness!) He who feels