on April 11, 2002
This book is fantastic. It is concise, motivational, and profound. I read it the first time and thought it was great, and then went back and took notes for a second reading and thought it was even better. This would be a great book to study with a small group or just discussing as a book club with friends.
Alcorn does a great job of using illustrations and stories to motivate believers to think "eternally" about every giving, saving and spending decision. This is the heart of true stewardship.
The main principles of the book are important to memorize and carry them on our hearts:
Principle #1- God owns everything. I am His money manager.
Principle #2- My heart always goes where I put God's money.
Principle #3- Heaven, not Earth, is my home.
Principle #4- I should live for the line (eternity), not the dot(short life on earth).
Principle #5- Giving is the only antidote for materialism.
Principle #6- God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
I highly recommend this great book. The only drawback in my opinion is his focus on tithing and using Malachi 3:8-10 as a verse to support his belief that tithing still applies.
He makes compelling arguments for teaching tithing as a starting point (Christians give on average 2-3 percent of their income), but I believe the "Church" abuses this doctrine in most cases. The bigger message is stewardship. If believers understand that... the tithe is totally inapplicable. I agree with his heart on this issue, but disagree with his belief that the tithe should be taught.
But that is a minor deal in the overall scheme of things. The book is a treasure that I will pass out to friends, family and re-read many times until these principles are lived out in my own life.
Ashley Hodge, CFP
on March 25, 2006
-- Who wants to know why their giving doesn't work?
-- Why, when you give, is the joy not there?
-- Why, when the pastor does a series on giving at the beginning of the year is there a feeling that the church is trying to get into your wallet?
-- If we think about tithing, why is there endless debate on gross versus net?
-- Why, if we are trying to make prosperity giving work, do we feel fear that if we give, God won't give back in a large enough measure?
Dr. Alcorn deals with these questions and more in the delightful little book. This is a book for those who really want to understand God's perspective on giving. It is not "give and I'll bless you back," though He does say that He loves cheerful givers. It is not about the amount or percentage that we give. It is not about when or where we give. It is about our hearts and giving.
Are you willing to explore the thought, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal"? The Treasure Principle drills down on this thought and other key verses that help the reader understand that God is concerned about what our focus and perspective are, not on how much money we give. He is concerned about where our hearts are--compared to where they should be--not where our pocketbook is. He is concerned about the treasures we are collecting--and where we are storing them.
Armchair Interviews says: This little book packs a punch, and it is backed by Dr. Alcorn's own experience of seeing The Treasure Principle at work in his life and the lives of those involved with his ministry.
on December 29, 2001
If you are passionate about making your life count for eternity, it is essential that you read "The Treasure Principle." This book will teach you how to eternally invest your financial resources. Contrary to the health, wealth, and prosperity movement, Alcorn will challenge and motivate you from the Bible to use your money for the advancement of God's kingdom. Since we can't take any of our financial resources with us once we die, Alcorn encourages us to "send our money ahead" for the pure joy that comes from giving and also so that we will experience great rewards in eternity.
Because I'm a busy pastor and have much to read, I typically skim books but I couldn't do so with this book. Randy Alcorn is a life-changing writer who pierces my heart with his every word. When Alcorn writes, there are no singles; every sentence is a Home Run! This forces me to be an expectant reader and to discard my highlighter because everything should be highlighted. If you care about your eternal home, spend your money wisely and buy this book!
I got this book at a church. They were giving them away for free. I decided to read it, because I'm interested in giving and tithing. I have to be honest: I thought this was going to be another "Rich Christian" book, the kind that give you strategies for reducing debt, being a good steward, and investing responsibly in the stock market, giving a good portion of your profits to the local church.
I was wrong.
While there are some things about this book I don't agree with--at one point Alcorn says that financial stewardship is central to our spiritual lives(I'm paraphrasing)--the overall theme is actually pretty good. Almost two-thirds of the book is devoted to giving. But not just the usual give to your local church because you should type of giving. Alcorn calls Christians to give generously, until it hurts. He even gives an example from his own life which was quite impressive.
If you're looking for a book on giving, The Treasure Principle is a good place to start. It isn't a very deep work, but it is surprisingly refreshing in a world of "gimme, gimme" Christians.
on August 20, 2006
Hands down, this is one of the best studies ever done on the gift of giving. Randy Alcorn has done a surper job of taking a tough life issue and wraping it into a wonderful package. The treasure principle is simple: "You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead." This truth affects every aspect of our life as Christians.
on November 27, 2001
The Treasure Principle is concise and convicting. Alcorn shows that Jesus Christ, not money, is the greatest Treasure in the universe, and points the way toward a Biblical perspective on money and possessions. John Piper describes the book--and its benefits--better than I can:
"Books don't change people; sentences do. That's all we remember. And there are so many sentences in this book super-charged with stunning divine truth that readers who aren't changed would have to be sleep-reading. Mark Twain said the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. Well, lightning was striking over and over as I read. Best of all Jesus gets his due. He is the greatest Treasure. Randy Alcorn (again!) gets the greatest things right. And lives that way too." -- John Piper, Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis
Established Christians should already understand the truths brought forth in this small (92 page) book, but unfortunately, too many either do not or do not practice the truths they know. New Christians often have never heard the principles listed. Too many churches are too quiet on the subject of money. This book will make an excellent teaching tool for confirmation classes, discipleship groups, and home Bible studies.
This book does not cost much, will help Christians grow, and could help strengthen the church. The book is filled with pithy quotes like this one, "It's increasingly common for Christians to ask one another the tough questions: How is your marriage? Have you been spending time in the Word? How are you doing in terms of sexual purity? Have you been sharing your faith? but how often do we ask, 'How much are you giving to the Lord?' or 'have you been robbing God?' or 'Are you winning the battle against materialism?'" (p.81).
The only reason I did not give this book 5 stars is because it didn't present any information that was new to me.
on September 15, 2003
Wow! Should be required reading in our churches! Mr. Alcorn does not mince words here. The book lays out the clear teachings of Christ that we should not accumulate treasures here and now, but should "send them ahead" for use in advancing the Kingdom of the Gospel. This is a radical principle that should revolutionize each Christian family's finances and view of money and time. The author also includes examples of "excellent givers" who not just give a lot of money away, but who prayerfully and thoughtfully target their gifts with diligence to match the diligence of those who watch the stock market. Also abounds with examples in history of those who used the treasures they were entrusted with wisely to advance the kingdom, not pad their nests. No manipulation or guilt trips here, just solid teaching that followers of Christ should consider!
on December 31, 2005
Randy Alcorn does an amazing job in this book of pulling together many different verses in the Bible that talk about money and making the whole issue of money, giving, and tithing a whole lot clearer.
The foundation of the book is this little truth: "You can't take it with you--but you can send it on ahead." That's what Alcorn calls the Treasure Principle. He bases it on what Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20: "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 not break in and steal."
Alcorn gives six keys to the Treasure Principle. They're a good condensed summary of his book:
1. God owns everything. I'm His money manager.
2. My heart always goes where I put God's money.
3. Heaven, not earth, is my home.
4. I should live not for the dot [life on earth] but for the line [eternity/life in heaven].
5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
I really appreciated his emphasis on eternity. He points out that we so often spend all of our energy gaining treasures for the here and now, forgetting that they're going to be lost in eternity: "[W]hen Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, it's not just because wealth might be lost; it's because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. No exceptions."
The book is very readable, and can easily be finished in an hour and a half. I'd very highly recommend it for anyone. I've already bought multiple copies to give away.
on May 6, 2016
The study of happiness is one of the foremost focuses in the economic departments of a number of elite universities. Well-funded international polls track GNH (gross national happiness) indexes in many different countries and report on which countries have the happiest citizenry. The behavioral economics group at Harvard has been the source of many interesting studies, reports and talks on this topic. They, and others working in this same area of "hedonics", have recommended different ways to enhance one's sense of well being and increase one's happiness.
What do they recommend? First among many relatively straight-forward actions virtually guaranteed to make a person happier is giving: received excellent service at a restaurant? Leave an extra $100 on the tip and experience the joy of contributing to another; know someone in your family or neighborhood experiencing stringent times? Drop off a big box of groceries and maybe an envelope with $200 and some tickets to a concert and experience the joy of watching them almost visibly slip from the burden they are bearing. This topic of study, started in the 1980s in a serious academic setting by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, is now rampant in evangelical churches with small groups ponying up giant tips at restaurants and in most respects aping what has been recommended by some academics and positive psychologists for a number of previous decades. The difference is that church groups also leave a note that says something like "because we love Jesus, we love you, too." This makes the tip missional and further adds to the joy payback.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with giving to get joy for oneself. The reason for this long intro is to give context to the book's message. Discussion of Christian hedonism writ large (ala Piper) and small (ala Alcorn) is that the real topic is me (and you): how I can purchase something with my wealth that I don't currently have as much of as I would like: joy and a sense of well-being and a sense of mission and a sense of significance. If one takes out the theological slant, this material could have come virtually unchanged from Harvard's Business School faculty -- it is essentially the same topic: how you and I, as purchasers, can be happier than we are now; all it takes is money (and what we do with it -- something like a "buyers guide"). ....
So, it isn't a bad book and the discussion is interesting but its similarity to exactly what has preceded it in the academic domains of hedonics and positive psychology should be included. Bill Gates and Zuckerberg and Buffett and other well-meaning billionaires are following these same guidelines -- why? It isn't because of scripture, it is because they are purchasing something they don't already have: more happiness, a sense of purpose and significance, some personal recognition and the joy of seeing others benefited. That isn't bad, but it should be taken for what it is.
The biggest endowment that everyone has, far beyond whatever their bank balance might be, is their life. The asset we run out of that can't be corrected with bankruptcy protection or government welfare, is time. The asset that is easiest to contribute is excess money; the most challenging is ourselves: devoted, disciplined, obedient, righteous, holy, consecrated, humble, contrite, worshipful, grateful, loving,.... These are things that every christian, including first-world christians, can give -- indeed, are commanded to. Giving is a mode of expression for each of these, a way to communicate these characteristics, like a child giving back a penny to his mom from his five cent allowance -- because it's a way to say he loves her, but just one way and not the biggest; the biggest is to obey her even when he doesn't want to.
I like the book in general, but it leaves out important contextual information that would make the message richer and more integrated with real life: wealthy secular giving is limited to fungible assets and Harvard has noted that; christian giving is not -- it starts with recognition of the Lordship of Christ and obedience and devotion in every thought, every word, every action -- an amazing range of options, one act of which is giving cash for those who have been blessed with enough excess to do so. The Treasure Principle makes useful points about a very tiny aspect of the Christian life but disproportionately does so: the book's hook is at the start with "you attend church regularly, pray and read the BIble..." BUT -- but what? "life is drudgery!" Hey, I'm doing all the right stuff but where is the sizzle? the kick? It's boring, drudgery. "Well," this book essentially says, "have some extra cash?" This tells you where to spend that to address 'life drudgery:' where you can buy joy and happiness. That, I believe, is the wrong context and it vitiates the other achievements of the book.