I just recently finished reading a great book by Randy Alcorn titled “The Treasure Principle”. This little book is page after page of biblical truths and convicting arguments regarding personal finances, and the worshipful act of giving. I strongly believe that every Christian should read this book. That might seem a little presumptuous, but I believe I can make that claim for two reasons. First, it’s very short, and takes very little effort and time commitment to read. And second, it is deeply rooted in scripture. So, I strongly encourage you to give it a read on your own.
However, in case you don’t read it, or procrastinate reading it, I want to share the books main points with you now. Randy Alcorn outlines six main points which he calls the keys to the treasure principle. And they are these (descriptions mine):
- God owns everything. I am His money manager.
Here, the lesson is essentially what you will find in Luke 19:12-27. This is the parable that Jesus tells of the servants who were given money by their master, to be stewards over. Two of the men are good stewards and work hard with what they’ve been given, eventually multiplying their master’s money. The third, however, is lazy and unwise; instead deciding to horde his money, not using it for any good. For this misuse of his money, the master is very angry, and punishes his servant. The lesson is this: God, our Master, has blessed us with much so that we can use it for His kingdom and glory, not to keep to ourselves.
- My heart always goes where I put God’s money.
In a great video, Mark Driscoll explains this principle much better than I could here. The main point, in both book and video, is that your money and your heart are inherently and eternally linked. Your money will follow your heart, and (maybe more importantly) your heart will follow your money. (Click here to watch that video.)
- Heaven, not earth, is my home.
How many times have you heard someone say: “It’s all gonna burn”? I am blessed to have been raised by parents who are extremely generous. When my dad decided to give one of our vehicles away to someone in need, I remember my sisters objecting that he should charge something, if only a small amount, and that this was a very poor financial decision. He just responded with that age-old saying. 2 Peter 3:10-13 affirms this truth. The old heavens and the old earth are going to pass away, along with everything you ever owned. You are going to die, and you are (by Christ) going to spend eternity in your true home. Don’t get too attached to what you have here. It’s not yours anyways.
- I should live not for the dot but for the line.
This point closely relates to #3. Eternity is a long time. One analogy that I’ve always liked is this: Imagine if the entire Earth was made of steel, and in the entire world there was only one little ant. However, this ant was special in that it was indestructible and did not age. Now imagine how long it would take for that entire Earth made of metal to be eroded away, down to nothing just by the friction of that ant’s little legs on the Earth. That amount of time is just the beginning of eternity. A popular saying is that our lives are but a vapor (James 4:14). And it’s true. Imagine that our lives here on Earth and our lives in Heaven are a dot and a line. The line goes on for forever. So which one are we living for? When we give to God what is already His, we are saying in effect “I will live for the line”.
- Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
If you haven’t yet, now would a good time to watch that video I mentioned. Someone wiser than I once said: “Materialism uses people to get things. Christianity uses things to get people.” Your heart will follow your money. So pray that your money would follow God. If you have a desire for missions, but you want God to grow your heart in it, start by giving more to it. Think about this: Scripture teaches us that furthering the kingdom is more important that food, shelter, or comfort (Matthew 4:4, Luke 9:58, 2 Corinthians 11:24-29, etc…). Yet, scripture also exhorts us to take care of those in need (Luke 14:13, Acts 10:4, Galatians 2:10, 1 Timothy 5:3, etc…). These two lessons could seem contradictory. Does God want me to help the poor by giving to them, or by evangelizing to them? Maybe God commands us to do both because He knows that when we give to those in need, our heart for them will follow, as will the gospel.
- God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
Seriously, watch the video. Matthew 6:19-21 tells us to store our treasures in Heaven, not Earth. This implies that there are situations where we have a choice. We are undoubtedly the richest people group to ever walk this earth. I once heard that if you were rich enough to afford college, you are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. God has historically blessed people with the tools and abilities they need most in their time. I believe that in times of war, God has blessed His people with traits like strength and perseverance. Or that in times of disease God has blessed us with compassion and healing. Now imagine a time in history when the Gospel has its greatest potential to reach every corner of the globe. A time when information can travel at the speed of light, and people can be sent to the most remote locations. However, this massive venture isn’t cheap. What might God bless His people with?