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The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn a book review

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, a book review

Matthew 6:19-20 – “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.”


The Treasure Principle is the most Biblical book on giving that I have ever read.  And yet even as I say that I am aware that it is more than just a book on giving, it is a book on living.  Living life for the glory of God and not being content to be bogged down with the things of the world.  Living life to make an eternal difference and not to be satisfied with just getting from day to day.  It is a book that calls for radical trust, radical love, and radical giving.

The subject of giving is a fairly difficult one in the local church, but it is one that needs to be addressed, provided it is addressed in a Biblical manner. This book is born out of Alcorn’s own struggles in life.  He was arrested for a non-violent protest at an abortion clinic and had a significant penalty levied against him.  Since he was a pastor at the time, the levy also applied to the church and as long as he was pastor the church would have to give a certain amount of money a month for his garnishment.  Rather than have that happen, Alcorn resigned.  He went from making a very nice salary at the church to working for minimum wage, but in the process he discovered the joy of giving.

He calls the discovery, “the treasure principle”.  And it really is just a practical way of looking at Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-20, that talks about “not laying up treasures on earth, but laying up treasures in heaven.”  In order to do this we have to live with an eternal perspective and we have to realize that we really are “just pilgrims on a journey.”  We shouldn’t be concerned with worldly things because this world is not our home, and in addition to that we should realize that every thing that we have is a gift of God, we are not the owners of our possesions, we are just the stewards.  These two truths should radically change not only our approach to giving but our approach to life.

One of the illustrations that Alcorn uses that really hit home was the illustration of the dot and the dash.  He said imagine that your life is the dot and that the dash reaches into eternity.  Many people choose to live for just the dot, and the things that they do have no eternal impact.  In other words they don’t impact the dash at all.  However when we live the way the Bible instructs us to and we make giving a priority and even a joy then we have a chance to impact the dash.  Our gifts can have eternal implications.

The money that we give to a missions offering.  A gift we give to a ministry (provided it is a true Christ following and exalting ministry, not just a money making enterprise).  The regular amount we give to the church, all of these things can impact the Kingdom of God.  Someone who is lost may be found.  Someone who is hurting may find comfort.  A struggling church may find help.  Someone else may be encouraged.  All because you gave!  All because you did not give in to the lure of the world and its materialism, but chose to live with an eternal perspective, realizing that you are just a steward of God’s money.  This makes all the difference in the world.

Alcorn also talks about celebrating our giving in our churches.  About telling giving stories.  I’m not sure I agree with him on this.  I think the principle is good, but when people are sharing how much the give the very real temptation becomes pride and legalism and these are things that the church must stay away from to if we are going to impact the world today.  Visitors in our churches don’t need to see us talking about our gifts because it might lead them to believe we are only concerned about financial matters.

We should however give as Alcorn says generously and joyfully.  This book is a book that will encourage you to do just that.  What a privilege it is to be able to give to kingdom work, and when we view it that way, we really will be “cheerful givers.”  And that’s good news because as the Bible says, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.”