Excerpted from Randy Alcorn's book The Treasure Principle.
Asking specific questions of God is a great tradition in Scripture.
At a pivotal point in his life (2 Samuel 2:1–2), David asked the Lord two very specific questions:
“Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked.
The Lord said, “Go up.”
David asked, “Where shall I go?”
“To Hebron,” the Lord answered.
As God’s children, we should ask and seek and knock (see Matthew 7:7). His answers won’t always be as direct as they were to David, but He invites us to ask Him nonetheless.
When it comes to financial stewardship, how God leads you will be different in many details than how He leads me. He hasn’t handed each of us a standardized checklist with boxes to mark off. Rather, He has provided us His Word with stewardship principles we must wrestle with. In the process of this struggle, God expects us to seek His face and to pursue counsel from godly believers.
Financial stewardship decisions require wisdom beyond our own. Scripture says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5).
Do you truly desire God’s wisdom and empowerment in making difficult stewardship decisions (and evaluating your own heart)? Then ask. He won’t leave you in the dark. He has given you His Word and His Spirit to guide you.
The following thirty-one questions are designed to assist you. After each question, I’ve listed a key passage of Scripture as well as other passages I’d encourage you to look up. (You can ponder consecutively as many as you wish or meditate on one per day for a month.) God promises that His Word won’t return to Him without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it (see Isaiah 55:11). So in each of these brief meditations, focus first and foremost on the scriptures and secondarily on the questions.
Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and give you direction. He will. Count on it.
1. Lord, in Your Word, You make a direct connection between experiencing grace and expressing grace through giving. So does the degree of my giving suggest that I have recognized and embraced Your grace?
See that you also excel in this grace of giving.… For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:7, 9)
See also 2 Corinthians 9:15 and Romans 8:32.
2. Father, have You raised me up for such a time as this? Is it more than a coincidence that You have entrusted me with many financial resources in a time when the poor and unreached have such pressing needs and there are unprecedented opportunities to help them?
“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, ESV)
See also Acts 17:26 and Ephesians 2:10.
3. Father, what am I guarding and keeping for myself that’s preventing me from depending wholeheartedly on You? Which of “my” assets can I give to You, so that You, not money and things, will be my center of gravity?
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:13)
See also Psalm 42:1–2 and Matthew 5:6.
4. Lord, am I honoring You as owner of the assets You’ve entrusted to my care? Or am I treating You as a mere financial consultant, to whom I pay a fee (2 percent, 10 percent, or…)? Have I been acting as if I own the store and You work for me rather than recognizing that You own it and I work for You?
“The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” (Leviticus 25:23)
See also Deuteronomy 10:14 and 1 Chronicles 29:11–12.
5. Where in my community do You want me to participate in meeting physical and spiritual needs through Christ-centered ministries? The inner city? Prison ministry? Pro-life work? Is a short-term missions trip or long-term service overseas part of Your exciting plan for me and my family?
“[Josiah] defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” (Jeremiah 22:16)
See also Proverbs 28:27 and Romans 10:13–15.
6. Lord, why have You entrusted me with greater financial blessings than I once had? Is it to raise my standard of giving? Do I really see myself as Your delivery person, or do I assume You put things in my hands so I can keep them?
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11)
See also 2 Corinthians 8:14 and Acts 11:29.
7. Lord Jesus, have I overaccumulated? Have I allowed unwise spending and accumulating debt to inhibit my giving to You? Have I said, “There’s not enough left to give,” while maintaining spending habits that make sure there’s not enough to give?
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9–10)
See also Proverbs 22:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2.
8. Lord, I’ve sometimes wondered why You’re not blessing me more financially. Could it be that I’ve been spending money on myself first rather than giving You the firstfruits? Have I placed myself under Your discipline?
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it…
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.” (Haggai 1:4–6, 9–10)
See also Malachi 3:8–11 and Luke 6:38.
9. Lord, have I fallen for the lie that I don’t have enough to give, despite the fact that the greatest examples of giving in Scripture were poor people?
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43–44)
See also 2 Corinthians 8:1–4 and Galatians 6:9–10.
10. Father, would it honor You if I determined a basic level of income sufficient to live on, then simply gave away whatever You provide beyond that? In the process, would You teach me to be more grateful and content?
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10, ESV)
See also Hosea 13:6 and Philippians 4:11–13.
11. Lord Jesus, since financial assets will burn at Your Second Coming, will the assets I’ve stored up on Earth be wasted if You return in my lifetime?
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? (2 Peter 3:10–11)
See also Ecclesiastes 5:15 and 1 Corinthians 9:24–25.
12. Lord, does the fact that You entrusted Your money to me indicate You want me—during my lifetime—to invest it in eternity rather than passing along that responsibility to my children? Once my children have finished college or are working on their own, would inheriting my wealth (beyond items of sentimental or heritage value) be a complicating or even corrupting influence?
An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed in the end. (Proverbs 20:21)
See also Proverbs 13:11 and 17:26 and 1 Corinthians 4:2.
13. How can I be sure that the assets You’ve entrusted to me will serve You after I die? How can I know that those to whom I leave these resources will use them to advance Your kingdom? If my children are adults and independent, should I just give away now what I can and, when I die, leave most of what remains to my church and missions or ministries that are close to Your heart?
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. (Matthew 25:34–35)
See also 1 Peter 1:3–4 and Colossians 3:23–24.
14. Father, what’s the eternal downside in giving as much as I can give to You now? In contrast, what’s the eternal downside of minimizing or delaying my giving?
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10–12)
See also Luke 19:17; Mark 10:29–30; and 2 Corinthians 5:9–11.
15. Lord, if I delay giving now, is it possible the money may disappear or I may die before I get a chance to give it?
“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.” (Psalm 39:4–6)
See also Ecclesiastes 5:13–14 and 8:8.
16. If I don’t release my resources now for Your kingdom causes, will I be in danger of becoming more wrapped up in earthly, rather than heavenly, treasure?
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:17–18)
See also Matthew 6:21 and Hebrews 3:15.
17. Lord, will I rob myself of joy and reward, and rob You of my trust, by holding on to significant assets I could have joyfully given to You?
Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. (Philippians 4:17)
See also Hebrews 9:27 and Ephesians 6:8.
18. Father, Wall Street can’t touch the eternal returns of investing in Your kingdom. So why are my eyes so often focused on temporary, earthly investments with such pitifully small returns? Lord, please broaden my perspective, increase my faith, and expand my eternal-investment mentality.
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)
See also Hebrews 6:10 and 2 Corinthians 4:18.
19. Lord, please help me to see clearly where best to give Your money. How can I determine which recipients will most benefit from the money I give and which will likely mismanage it? Help me be not only a generous giver but a wise one.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best. (Philippians 1:9–10)
See also 1 Timothy 5:3–5 and Proverbs 14:7.
20. You commended Zacchaeus for giving away half of all he had, seeing it came from a transformed heart. We are Jesus followers, just like those people two thousand years ago. You’ve never changed Your opinions about giving generously, have You? God, would You empower me to trust You enough to act in obedience to You, for the good of the needy?
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:8–9)
See also Matthew 19:21 and Luke 14:33.
21. If I were to make a list of all the assets You’ve entrusted to me, Lord, and ask what You want me to give away, is there anything—house, car, real estate, retirement funds, bank accounts—that I’m treating as untouchable?
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)
See also 1 Corinthians 6:19, Psalm 50:12, and Haggai 2:8.
22. Father, without realizing it, am I making money my God-substitute? Am I failing to experience the pleasures that can be found only in You?
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1, NASB)
See also Colossians 3:4–6 and Psalm 34:8.
23. When I meet You face to face, will I wish I had given away more? God, help me by Your grace to close the gap between what I’m giving now and what I’ll one day wish I had given.
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15)
See also 2 Corinthians 8:7 and Acts 10:1–4.
24. Lord, I know you call me to be wise, but am I focused on saving to the point of hoarding and stockpiling like the rich fool, instead of trusting You?
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
See also Proverbs 3:5–6 and Philippians 4:6, 19.
25. Father, are material assets competing with You for lordship over my life? Have I been giving enough to experience a joyful liberty from the tyranny of money and things?
For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness. (1 Timothy 6:7–11, ESV)
See also Ezekiel 28:4–5 and Revelation 3:17–18.
26. What specifically am I hanging on to that You want me to give away? Since You promise me, “It is more blessed [happy-making] to give than to receive,” what happiness awaits me by letting go and becoming more of a giver?
A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)
See also Acts 20:35 and 2 Corinthians 8:13–15.
27. Jesus, how can I better communicate with and pray with my spouse and children so we can walk together down this exhilarating road of giving?
So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (Deuteronomy 11:18–19, NLT)
See also 2 Corinthians 9:7 and Ephesians 5:22, 25.
28. What am I doing—and what should I be doing—to train the children in my sphere of influence to be regular, joyful, and generous givers?
Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
See also 1 Corinthians 11:1 and 16:2.
29. Lord, I realize that in most places around the world, I would be regarded as extremely wealthy (even if I am lower- or middle-class in this place and time). Have You put so much into my hands because You have blessed me with the gift of giving? What have I been missing out on by not exercising this gift to a greater degree?
In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously. (Romans 12:5–8)
See also 2 Corinthians 9:7 and Galatians 6:9.
30. If I am a giver, whom have I been teaching and mentoring in giving? In a spirit of humility, how can I share with others the joy of giving?
For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. (2 Corinthians 9:2–3)
See also 1 Chronicles 29: 1–14 and Hebrews 10:24.
31. Father, please empower me to live each day here like I will wish I’d lived five minutes after I die. Help me look forward to Heaven and the New Earth and to storing up treasures there. I long to hear from You: “Well done, good and faithful servant.… Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21, NKJV). What steps can I take to make this happen?
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)
See also Proverbs 19:17 and Matthew 10:42.For more, see our other resources on money and giving, as well as Randy's related books.
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