(2) But wealth, Christ tells us, may minister not merely to the physical necessities, but to the beauty and happiness of life. When Christ was invited to the marriage-feast at Cana of Galilee, when Matthew the publican made for Him a feast in His own house, He did not churlishly refuse, saying that such expenditure was wasteful and wicked excess. When in the house of Simon the leper Mary “took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus,” and they that sat by murmured, saying, “To what purpose is this waste? for this ointment might have been sold for above three hundred pence and given to the poor,” Jesus threw His shield about this woman and her deed of love: “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on Me.” These words, it has been well said, are “the charter of all undertakings which propose, in the name of Christ, to feed the mind, to stir the imagination, to quicken the emotions, to make life less meagre, less animal, less dull." Do not let us speak as though the only friends of the poor were those who gave them oatmeal at Christmas, or who secure for them alms-houses in their old age. There is a life which is more than meat, and all heavenly charity is not to be bound up in bags of flour. He who strives to bring into the grey, monotonous lives of the toilers of our great cities the sweet, refining influences of art, and music and literature, he who helps his fellows to see and to love the true and the beautiful and the good, is not one whit less a benefactor of his kind than he who obtains for them better food and better homes. Man shall not live by bread alone, and they who use their wealth to minister to a higher life serve us not less really than they who provide for our physical needs.
Much, however, as Christ has to say concerning the noble uses to which wealth may be put, it is not here, as every reader of the Gospels must feel, that the full emphasis of His words comes. It is when He goes on to speak of the perils of the rich, and of our wrong estimates of the worth of wealth, that His solemn warnings pierce to the quick. Christ did not live, nor does He call us to live, in an unreal world, though perhaps there are few subjects concerning which more unreal words have been spoken than this. The power of wealth is great, the power of consecrated wealth is incalculably great; and this the New Testament freely recognizes; but wealth is not the great, necessary, all-sufficing thing that ninety-nine out of a hundred of us believe it to be. And when we put it first, and make it the standard by which all things else are to be judged, Christ tells us plainly that we are falling into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts; we are piercing ourselves through with many sorrows. For once at least, then, let us try to look at money with His eyes and to weigh it in His balances.