GIVING - The Greatest Pleasure
May 07, 2015 | Seeds
By Blake Weaver
There is indeed a vast array of commentary that exists on the topic of giving from a Christian perspective. Jesus speaks at length about this concept throughout the New Testament, which is primarily the reason why so many individuals have developed opinions, interpretations, etc. regarding this Biblical principle. Needless to say, many excellent resources exist on this topic. One particular resource that seems to have gained particular notoriety is Randy Alcorn’s book titled The Treasure Principle (Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving). In less than 15 years, over 600,000 copies of this book have been sold.
There are at least a few obvious reasons why Alcorn’s book might be so popular. One, the book is only 120 pages. It can easily be read in one or two sittings. Two, it’s practical. Alcorn does an uncanny job applying biblical principles to everyday life. Lastly and most importantly, Alcorn’s perspective is based on scripture, which is compelling. For these reasons, it’s worth considering his perspective in a bit more detail.
In his book the author contends that “In Matthew 6, Jesus fully unveils the foundation of what I call the Treasure Principle (p. 12). He then goes on to quote Matthew 6:19-21, which states:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do no break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In this passage Jesus mentions three basic principles. One, He is warning against storing up treasures on earth because these treasures will not last. Two, he advises that treasures should be stored in heaven. Three, He is saying that one’s heart and his treasure are inseparable. While these principles seem straightforward at first glance, the application of Jesus` words contains huge implications for each and every Believer.
Alcorn attempts to unpack Jesus` teaching of this topic in six “Key Treasure Principles.” These principles include:
1. God owns everything. I’m His money manager. He notes, “A steward manages assets for the owner’s benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It’s his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will” (p. 25). Furthermore, he suggests that when this stewardship mentality is embraced, giving away God’s assets is a joyful experience.
2. My heart always goes where I put God’s money. Alcorn states, “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.’” It’s important to point out that the author is not trying to reveal guilt with this statement. Rather, he is offering a brutally honest assessment tool to help an individual determine what actually matters most to him.
3. Heaven, not earth, is my home. Again, this principle is not simply the author’s opinion. He basis this on various scripture references that speak to the fact that those in Christ do not belong to this world (Heb. 11:13, 2 Cor. 5:20, Phil. 3:20). Alcorn mentions a very practical application to this principle. He states, “Suppose your home is in France and you’re visiting America for three months, living in a hotel. You’re told that you can’t bring anything back to France on your flight home. But you can earn money and mail deposits to your bank in France” (p. 47). The idea with this application is that you would not likely store up a bunch of treasures in your hotel room in America, but “you would send your money where your home is” (p. 47).
4. I should live not for the dot but for the line. He explains, “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 treasures in heaven that will never end. Giving is living for the line” (p. 51). Furthermore, this principle relates to how we view our possessions. While no one is quick to admit it, earthly possessions have a tendency to control individuals. That’s living for the dot. Indeed, this is not the way that Christ intends for His followers to live.
5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism. Alcorn admits that money is just one of the many things given to God. Therefore, stewardship and giving relate to every bit of God’s blessings. He says, “As long as I 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” (p. 59).
6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. Again, the author uses a very practical example to expound upon this principle. He notes, “Suppose you have something important you want to get someone who needs it. You wrap it up and hand it over to the FedEx guy. What would you think if instead of delivering the package, he took it home, opened it, and kept if for himself? You’d say, ‘This guy doesn’t get it. The packages don’t belong to him. He’s just the middleman’” (p. 76). The clear point here is that stewardship involves acting as the middleman of God’s blessings. The more He gives an individual, a greater responsibility to steward those things is necessary.
Alcorn concludes the book by hammering home the idea that giving from this perspective provides the greatest pleasure. He makes the full-circle connection of Jesus` words in Acts 20:35, which says, “The Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (p. 92). Experiencing this type of joy can and will happen when “you transfer your assets to heaven” (p. 94).
Alcorn, Randy. (2001). The Treasure Principle (Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving). Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Publishers.