Randy Alcorn writes a wonderful book on what the Bible teaches on giving.
And he does it in less then 100 pages! I not only enjoyed this book, but also got a lot of practical and spiritual guidance from it.
I highly recommended it to everyone.
He shares six Biblical keys, he calls treasure principle keys.
Here they are:
1. God owns everything. I'm His money manager.
We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted - not given - to us.
2. My heart always goes where I put God's money.
Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things.
3. Heaven, not earth, is my home.
We are citizens of 'a better country - a heavenly one.' Heb. 11:16
4. I should live not for the dot but for the line.
From the dot - our present life on earth - extends a line that goes on forever, which is eternity in heaven.
5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It dethrones me and exalts Him.
6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
God gives us more money than we need so we can give - generously.
In each chapter he elaborates on these points. In the first chapter he tells us what the treasure principle is based on.
He says here:
"Of course Christ Himself is our ultimate treasure. All else pales in comparison to Him and the joy of knowing Him (Phil. 3:7-11). A person, Jesus, is our first treasure. A place, heaven, is our second treasure. Possessions, eternal rewards, are our third treasure."
Jesus tells us to store our treasure in heaven. Why? Because we can't take them with us.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Randy continues here:
"Jesus takes that profound truth 'You can't take it with you' and adds a stunning qualification. By telling us to store up treasures for ourselves in heaven, He gives us a breathtaking corollary, which I call the Treasure Principle:
You can't take it with you-
but you can send it on ahead.
It's that simple. And if it doesn't take your breath away, you're not understanding it! Anything we try to hang on to here will be lost. But everything we put into God's hands will be ours for eternity...
If we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, we store up treasures in heaven that will never stop paying dividends. Whatever treasures we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive."
In other words, the only way to store up treasure in heaven is by giving. Keeping for ourselves, what God has entrusted to us, only stays here on earth.
In the second chapter he shares his personal story on learning that God owns everything, even us and we are His money managers. It was a story I hadn't heard before and really made me more appreciative of Randy Alcorn and his ministry.
The third chapter moved me the most. It's on the second principle: My heart always goes where I put God's money. This is based on Matt. 6:21. (look above for verse)
This was the principle that made me examine myself the most. Where am I spending my money? Because that's where my heart is.
Randy says here:
"By telling us that our hearts follow our treasure, Jesus is saying, 'Show me your checkbook, your VISA statement, and your receipts, and I'll show you where your heart is."
This chapter also reminded me of people like Brother Andrew, Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael, people who
surrendered all to Christ and who gave generously. Their hearts were on eternal things and God always
provided for them and their ministries.
In chapter four, Randy talks about Heaven being our home, not earth. He says here:
"We know that Christ commands us to give. and we know He offers us great rewards for giving. So why is it so hard to give?...
I'm convinced that the greatest deterrent to giving is this: the illusion that earth is our home...
Where we choose to store our treasures depends largely on where we think our home is."
Chapter four also talks about principle key #4: I should live not for the dot but for the line. The dot being earth and the line being eternity.
Randy explains here:
"Right now we're living in the dot. But what are we living for? The shortsighted person lives for the dot. The person with perspective lives for the line...
The person who lives for the dot lives for treasures on earth that end up in junkyards. The person who lives for the line lives for treasure in heaven that will never end.
Giving is living for the line."
Lastly in chapter four he talks about the 5th principle: Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
I really love what Randy says here about giving:
"The act of giving is a vivid reminder that it's all about God, not about us. It's saying I am not the point. He is the point. He does not exist for me. I exist for Him. God's money has a higher purpose than my affluence. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. Giving affirms Christ's lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me.
As long as I still have something, I believe I own it. But when I give it away, I relinquish control, power, and prestige. At the moment of release the light turns on. The magic spell is broken. My mind clears. I recognize God as owner, myself as servant, and others as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me.
Giving doesn't strip me of vested interests; rather, it shifts my vested interests from earth to heaven - from self to God.
Of course, money isn't all I can give. Time, wisdom, and expertise are wonderful gifts. Giving in any form breaks affluenza's fever. Giving breaks me free from the gravitational hold of money and possessions. Giving shifts me to a new center of gravity - heaven."
Chapter five starts out with this beautiful quote by Martin Luther:
"I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess."
In this chapter Randy shares principle #6: God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
When I was teen back in the 80's, prosperity teaching was everywhere in the church. 'God wants you to be rich! It's a blessing, spoil yourself!' It makes me ill just thinking about all those teaching I listened to. I'm so thankful God reveals truth to those who seek Him.
Here's what Randy says on material blessings:
"God has given you considerable material blessings. Have you ever asked yourself, Why has He provided so much? You don't need to wonder. Paul tells us exactly why He provides us with more money than we need:
"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. you will be made rich in every way so that..." (2 Cor. 9:10-11)
So that what? How will he finish this sentence? Prosperity theology would finish it, 'so that we might live in wealth, showing the world how much God blesses those who love Him.'
But that isn't how Paul finishes it. He says, 'so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.'
God comes right out and tells us why He gives us more money than we need. It's not so we can find more ways to spend it. It's not so we can indulge ourselves and spoil our children. It's not so we can insulate ourselves from needing God's provision.
It's so we can give - generously.
When God provides more money, we often think, This is a blessing. Well, yes, but it would be just as scriptural to think, This is a test."
I'll leave you with these questions Randy asks in the last chapter. Ones I'll ponder and pray about myself.
"When you leave this world, will you be known as one who accumulated treasures on earth that you couldn't keep?
Or will you be recognized as one who invested treasures in heaven that you couldn't lose?"
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