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Flip-Flop Your Concept of Giving!
Bestselling author Randy Alcorn introduced readers to a revolution in material freedom and radical generosity with the release of the original The Treasure Principle in 2001. Now the revision to the compact, perennial bestseller includes a provocative new concluding chapter depicting God asking a believer questions about his stewardship over material resources. Readers are moved from the realms of thoughtful Bible exposition into the highly personal arena of everyday life. Because when Jesus told His followers to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” He intended that they discover an astounding secret: how joyful giving brings God maximum glory and His children maximum pleasure. Discover a joy more precious than gold!
Priceless treasure is within your reach. And with it, liberating joy.
In Randy Alcorn ’s The Treasure Principle, you’ll unearth a radical teaching of Jesus—a secret wrapped up in giving. Once you discover this secret, life will never look the same. And you won’t want it to!
“Supercharged with stunning, divine truth! Lightning struck over and over as I read it.”
-John Piper , Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church , Minneapolis
“The Treasure Principle will change your life! This book is destined to become a classic.”
-Howard Dayton , Co-CEO, Crown Financial Ministries
“The Scripture passages and illustrations really ring true. Just what I needed!”
-Hugh Maclellan , President, The Maclellan Foundation
“I enthusiastically endorse The Treasure Principle. I hope millions will read it.”
-Ronald W. Blue , Founder and CEO, Ronald Blue & Company
Story Behind the Book
After years of writing and teaching on the theme “God owns everything,” in 1990 Randy Alcorn was sued by an abortion clinic (for peaceful, nonviolent intervention for the unborn). Suddenly he had to resign as a pastor and was restricted to making minimum wage. Legally unable to own anything, Randy gave all his book royalties to missions work and need-meeting ministries. He and his family have experienced the reality of The Treasure Principle—that God really does own everything, takes care of us, and graciously puts assets into our hands that we might have the joy and privilege of investing in what will last for eternity.
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Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). He is the bestselling author of twenty books, with over one million in print, including the novels Deadline, Dominion, Lord Foulgrin's Letters and the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home. His fourteen nonfiction works include ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, and the stewardship classic Money, Possessions and Eternity. He and his wife, Nanci, live in Gresham , Oregon , and have two grown daughters, Karina and Angela. He enjoys hanging out with his family, biking, tennis, research, and reading.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Preface to the Revisedand Updated 2017 Edition
When I was writing The Treasure Principle in 2000, someone on the publisher’s marketing team said, “So we’re going to ask people to spend money to buy your book so you can persuade them to give away lots of money?”
Well, there’s more to it than that, but in a way the answer was yes. It’s safe to say that seventeen years ago, when people were brainstorming book ideas with strong reader appeal, nobody—including me—was thinking, “I know—let’s do a book about giving. It’ll sell a million copies!”
Yet as I write this, The Treasure Principle has sold nearly two million copies. It has been distributed in thousands of churches and by hundreds of ministries. Businessmen and financial advisors routinely give it to their clients. The book has been translated into twenty-nine languages, including Chinese, Bengali, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Greek, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, Latvian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Polish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and Arabic.
God has used The Treasure Principle, as well as my larger work on stewardship, Money, Possessions, and Eternity1, to play a strategic role in the Generous Giving movement (www.generousgiving.org) that has touched countless followers of Christ and furthered missions and relief and development work worldwide.
I’ve received hundreds of letters and e-mails detailing radical choices, enduring life changes, and greatly multiplied joy as a result of embracing the truths in this book. One reader wrote, “I picked up The Treasure Principle and started reading aloud, and the Holy Spirit worked with lightning speed. I had perfect clarity of mission. It wasn’t about me anymore.”
A mother e-mailed, “My eleven-year-old son gets five dollars per week. We taught him that fifty cents was his tithe. He chose to give a dollar. After reading The Treasure Principle, I asked, ‘If I were to raise your allowance to six dollars a week, how would you use the extra dollar?’ He immediately said, ‘I would give two dollars.’ This is just a small part of what is going on in our household.”
My favorite letters are from young people, such as this one: “I am twelve years old. The Treasure Principle encouraged me to give at my church every week. It helped me learn that God owns everything and I just take care of it. It helped me to give more and not spend as much on things I don’t need.”
Responses describing the far-reaching joy from the adventure of giving are especially gratifying. Some write of large-scale life changes, including selling their real estate, jewelry, and collections, and giving the proceeds to missions.
They express deep thanks to God for the infusion of happiness that goes far beyond all expectations.
Whether the changes have been sweeping or seemingly small, these readers have experienced what I intended this book to be mainly about: enhanced joy from giving.
Honestly, at times I’ve been overwhelmed by the impact. I’m profoundly aware that anything God has done through The Treasure Principle is a work of grace on His part, and to His glory. I know without a doubt that He has used the God-breathed Scripture highlighted throughout the book to joyfully transform hearts.
I’m grateful, too, that all the book royalties have been and will continue to be given away to further God’s kingdom. If my wife, Nanci, and I didn’t personally know the unrivaled joy of giving, I wouldn’t have been able to write The Treasure Principle.
To revise a work that many people have said changed their lives is daunting. I am adjusting a book that has traveled farther and wider than perhaps any work I’ve ever written, with the possible exception of Heaven. What if my revision reduces, rather than enhances, the book’s power? But by making clearer some parts that readers occasionally have misunderstood, I hope I’ve made it better. My prayer is that the revision, which includes the all-new chapter “Was Jesus Really Talking About Financial Giving?” and a Q&A section, helps both new and old readers.
I also want to thank again my wonderful wife, Nanci, who has walked this path of giving with me. Our hearts are filled with gratefulness to God for all He is and all He has given. We thank Him for all He empowers His people to give for the good of others, for the good of the giver, and for the glory of the ultimate Giver:
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14).
All your life, you’ve been on a treasure hunt. You’ve been searching for a perfect person and a perfect place. If you’re a Christian, you’ve already met that person—Jesus. And you’re headed to that place—Heaven.
But there’s a problem. You’re not yet living with Him in that place!
If you’ve asked Jesus Christ to forgive your sins, He’s rescued you from eternal condemnation and given you new life. Your salvation isn’t dependent on anything you have done or will ever do. Rather, it’s God’s gift to you, secured by Christ’s death and resurrection. This is the Gospel, the “good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7, esv), the “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10, esv).
Being saved from your sins is not about you giving to God; it’s about God giving to you.
If you don’t know Him, placing your faith in Jesus is the best choice you can ever make. By God’s empowering grace, I pray you’ll do it soon.
However, it’s possible you already have a relationship with Jesus but feel you aren’t experiencing the joy God intends. Maybe you attend church regularly, pray, and read the Bible. But life can still be drudgery, can’t it? You dutifully put one foot in front of the other, plodding across the hot, barren ground, longing for an elusive joy you can’t seem to find. You sense something is missing, but you don’t know what.
Jesus addressed that missing element when He told a story about a hidden treasure that, once discovered, brings life-changing joy. But before we start on our journey, I want you to know something. Some books try to motivate giving out of guilt. This isn’t one of them.
This book is about something else—the joy of giving. The Treasure Principle has long been buried. It’s time to unearth this simple yet profound idea—one with radical implications. Once you grasp it and put it into practice, nothing will ever look the same. And you won’t want it to.
When you discover the secret joy of the Treasure Principle, I guarantee you’ll never be content with less.
He is no fool who gives what he cannotkeep to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot
A first-century Hebrew walks alone on a hot afternoon, staff in hand. His shoulders are stooped, his tunic stained with sweat. But he doesn’t stop to rest. He has pressing business in the city.
He veers off the road into a field, seeking a shortcut. The owner won’t mind—travelers are permitted this courtesy. The field is uneven. To keep his balance he thrusts his staff into the dirt.
Thunk. The staff strikes something hard.
He stops, wipes his brow, and pokes again.
Thunk. Something’s under there, and it’s not a rock. The weary traveler’s curiosity wins out. He jabs at the ground. Something reflects a sliver of sunlight. He drops to his knees and starts digging.
Five minutes later, he’s uncovered a case fringed in gold.
By the looks of it, it’s been there for decades. Hands shaking and heart racing, he pries off the lock and opens the lid.
Gold coins! Jewelry! Precious stones! A treasure more valuable than anything he’s ever imagined.
Some wealthy man must have buried the treasure and died suddenly, its secret location dying with him. There’s no homestead nearby. Surely the current landowner has no clue this ancient treasure is here.
The traveler buries the chest and marks the spot. He turns to head home—only now he’s not plodding. He’s skipping like a child and smiling broadly.
What a find! Unbelievable! I’ve got to have that treasure! But I can’t just take it. By law, whoever buys a field assumes ownership of all that’s in it. But how can I afford to buy it? I’ll sell my farm . . . and crops . . . all my tools . . . my prize oxen. Yes, if I sell everything, that should be enough!
From the moment of his discovery, the traveler’s life changes. The treasure captures his imagination. It’s his reference point, his new center of gravity. The traveler takes every new step with this treasure in mind. He experiences a radical paradigm shift.
This story is captured by Jesus in a single verse: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44).
Some believe this passage speaks of people finding the The treasure of Christ. Many believe it speaks of Jesus giving His life to obtain the treasure of the people and kingdom He rules. In either case, it certainly portrays the joy of finding eternal treasure with value that far surpasses the costs to obtain it.
THE MONEY CONNECTION
The parable of hidden treasure is one of many references Jesus made to money and possessions. In fact, 15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic—more than His teachings on Heaven and Hell combined.
Why did Jesus put such an emphasis on money and possessions?
Because there’s a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. We may try to divorce our faith and finances, but God sees them as inseparable.
I came to this realization years ago while reading Luke 3 on an airplane. Among the crowds that gathered to hear John the Baptist preach, three different groups asked him how they should prove their repentance. John gave three answers:
1. Everyone should share clothes and food with the poor (v. 11).
2. Tax collectors shouldn’t pocket extra money (v. 13). The
3. Soldiers should be content with their wages and not extort money (v. 14).
No one had asked John about finances! They wanted to know how to demonstrate spiritual transformation. So why did John’s response center almost exclusively on money and possessions?
Sitting on that plane, I realized something John wanted his audience to know: Our approach to money and possessions is central to our spiritual lives.
Soon that truth jumped out at me in other passages. Zacchaeus said to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).
Jesus responded, “Today salvation has come to this house” (v. 9). Zacchaeus’s new approach to money proved his heart had been transformed.
Acts tells of Jerusalem converts who eagerly sold their possessions to give to the needy (2:45; 4:32–35). Ephesian occultists proved the authenticity of their conversion when they burned their magic books, worth millions of dollars in today’s currency (19:19).
The poor widow steps off the pages of Scripture by giving two small coins. Jesus praised her: “She out of her poverty has put in everything she had” (Mark 12:44, esv).
In stark contrast, Jesus spoke of a rich man who spent all his wealth on himself. He planned to store up for early retirement and easy living.
But God called the man a fool (Luke 12:20). The greatest indictment against him—and the proof of his spiritual condition—is that he was rich toward himself but not rich toward God.
When a rich young man pressed Jesus about how to gain eternal life, Jesus told him, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). Jesus knew the man couldn’t serve God until he dethroned his money idol.
But the seeker considered the price too great. Sadly, he chose lesser and fading treasures, walking away from greater and lasting ones.
SMART OR STUPID?
The rich young man wasn’t willing to give up everything for a greater treasure, but our traveler in the field was. Why? Because the traveler understood what he would gain.
Do you feel sorry for the traveler? After all, his discovery cost him everything. No, we aren’t to pity this man; we’re to envy him! His sacrifice pales in comparison to his reward. The cost-benefit ratio is compelling!
The traveler made short-term sacrifices to obtain a long-term reward. “It cost him everything he owned,” you might lament. Yes, but he gained far more than he lost.
If we miss the phrase “in his joy,” we miss everything. The man wasn’t exchanging lesser treasures for greater treasures out of dutiful drudgery but out of joyful exhilaration.
In this parable Jesus is appealing to what we do value—temporary, earthly treasure—in order to make an analogy about what we should value—eternal, heavenly treasure. We should think of the treasure hidden in the field in Matthew 13 as representing the true and lasting treasures we find in Jesus, the gospel, and God’s eternal kingdom. Any earthly treasure we part with to obtain that far greater treasure is well worth the exchange!
In Matthew 6, Jesus fully unveils the foundation of what I call the Treasure Principle. It’s one of His most neglected and misinterpreted teachings:
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 andsteal. For where your treasure is, there your heartwill be also. (vv. 19–21)
Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” Why? Because earthly treasures are bad? No. Because they won’t last.
Scripture says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:5). Next time you buy a prized possession, imagine it sprouting wings and flying off. Sooner or later it will disappear.
When Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on Earth, it’s not 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.
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