That’s the thesis of Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2001).
Also available are an audio book, study guide, and DVD presentation:
The Treasure Principle is a short, pocket-size book (122 pp.) that one can easily read in one sitting. It’s very edifying.
Alcorn calls this “the treasure principle”: “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.”
He supports this with six “treasure principle keys”:
- “God owns everything. I’m His money manager.”
- “My heart always goes where I put God’s money.”
- “Heaven, not earth, is my home.”
- “I should live not for the dot [life on earth] but for the line [eternity in heaven].”
- “Giving is the only antidote to materialism.”
- “God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”
Two portions are especially memorable.
1. Re principle #2:
Suppose you buy shares of General Motors. What happens? You suddenly develop interest in GM. You check the financial pages. You see a magazine article about GM and read every word, even though a month ago you would have passed right over it.
Suppose you’re giving to help African children with AIDS. When you see an article on the subject, you’re hooked. If you’re sending money to plant churches in India and an earthquake hits India, you watch the news and fervently pray.
As surely as the compass needle follows north, your heart will follow your treasure. Money leads; hearts follow.
I’ve heard people say, “I want more of a heart for missions.” I always respond, “Jesus tells you exactly how to get it. Put your money in missions—and in your church and the poor—and your heart will follow” (p. 44).
2. Re principle #5:
Every item we buy is one more thing to think about, talk about, clean, repair, rearrange, fret over, and replace when it goes bad (p. 54).
One minor disagreement worth noting is Alcorn’s argument that tithing is the minimum amount required from Christians (pp. 63–67, et al.). I’m completely sympathetic with his reasoning (esp. as applied to affluent people like the ones who are likely to read his book!) but not exegetically convinced. Cf. some of the resources listed in my previous post “What We Should Do with Our Money.”
1. Alcorn’s website hosts dozens of Money and Possessions Articles, divided into seven categories:
- Biblical Perspective
- Money Management
- Money, Possessions and Eternity
- Questions and Answers
- The Treasure Principle
- Theology of Money Class
- Tithing and Giving
2. Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity (2d ed.; Tyndale House, 2003), 520 pp.