“Who wants to settle for fleeting treasures on earth…when God offers everlasting treasures in heaven?”
Randy Alcorn’s Money Possessions and Eternity is an extensive volume exploring money and possessions from a biblical perspective. When I say ‘extensive’, I mean it. This book has almost 500 pages of material to work through. I recently read this book and found it very beneficial. Specifically, there were a few sections I found most helpful when examining ones heart, and shepherding the heart of others concerning their finances.
The Sin of Materialism
First and foremost, Alcorn argues that the human heart is the primary issue of materialism. He argues that “we [modern Christians] have failed to take materialism as a serious threat to our godliness” (74). Treating materialism as a deadly sin, the author maintains that we cannot grow in godliness until we answer these questions:
- What is it that we really long for?
- What is the deepest desire and need of our hearts?
These heart searching questions help dig deeper on issues related to possessions – enabling one to see the desire behind the “want”. Alcorn makes the case that like other sin and idolatry, materialism is a fruitless attempt to find meaning and satisfaction apart from God. The problem, according to Alcorn, is that most evangelical Christians write off materialism as characterizing other people, but not themselves.
Giving and Simple Living
As for giving, Alcorn upholds that if Western Christians all practiced healthy giving, “the task of world evangelism and feeding the hungry would be within reach” (186). Powerful point. I see this as one of the most powerful reasons for living frugally as a Christian, namely, the ability to give freely. Alcorn’s section on “living simply” is an excellent resource to think about how one uses their resources. He reasons that Christians should live simply because:
- Heaven is our home.
- It frees us up, and shifts our center of gravity.
- Because we are God’s pipeline of grace to others.
- The reward we’ll receive in heaven.
- The joy it brings us now.
- Because of the dire needs in the world.
For many this emphasis of strategic living will require looking hard at one’s lifestyle. But “better to be seen as fools now in the eyes of other people – including other Christians – than to be seen as fools forever in the eyes of the audience of one” (419).
Alcorn presents a biblical and comprehensive view of money and possessions. “The best way to check our heart’s attitude regarding material possessions to is allow all the principles of God’s word to penetrate our innermost being. (xvi)” There is plenty of biblical material in this book to do just that.