Jesus' teaching about money is startling. I mean that it stands in such utter contrast to the commonly accepted standards out in the world, and inside in the Church, that the contrast startles one sharply.
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 or neglect.
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.