Following are book reports on The Treasure Principle from homeschool students in Mrs. Boettcher’s World Religions class in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Reprinted with permission.
Recently I read The Treasure Principle. I’ve never had much of a problem with giving, so I thought that the book would only serve me by providing encouragement to keep on giving the way I already was. Well, I was wrong! Not only was I encouraged by it but I was really convicted through it in several ways as well.
First, God helped me realize that whenever I’d give something extra for the church or a gift to someone, in my heart I’d think “I’m being pretty generous with my money” but, then God showed me that it wasn’t my money, it was His money, and I was just the manager of it. The reason God entrusted me with the money I have was for the very reason for me to give more.
Another thing that I was convicted about is how many things I buy for myself. I’ve never really felt bad about it before, because anything I bought I’d make sure was on sale and at a really cheap price so that I wouldn’t be spending too much money. But then, I realized how the cost of all my inexpensive clothes and stuff really did add up, and how I could’ve used the money spent on them to further God’s kingdom and bring more glory to Him, rather than use it for myself in order to have a bigger wardrobe. After seeing that, God was faithful to show me ways that I could keep from being selfish, and instead use the money He blessed me with for purposes that would be more glorifying to Him.
One last thing I was convicted of was how I viewed tithing as a “chore that Christians do.” This book really helped me see that tithing shouldn’t be looked upon as a chore, but as an honor, joy and privilege to be able to give just a little bit back to God from all the blessings he’s given us.
Okay, now for what the book encouraged me in. It really just encouraged me to give more, and the great part of it is, it showed me that giving more isn’t going to be hard! The book kept underlining how the more you give the more joy you’ll experience when giving the next time, so I think that should just encourage us all to give more... I mean, we may be losing money from it, but the joy that we’ll receive when giving is way better than the joy we’ll have in keeping our money to ourselves. So really, the joy and satisfaction that we gain from having a generous heart far outweighs the joy and satisfaction we would gain if we withheld our means to give.
Amy Boettcher, Age 14
When I first read The Treasure Principle last year, I was deeply affected by it and it taught me many things I had never even thought about. At the time I read the book I was struggling with giving—not just giving, but giving with joy. To me it seemed like something I just had to do because it is what my parents told me to do, and moreover because God commanded it. I totally missed the main idea.
Reading The Treasure Principle again had an even deeper impact on me. I have recently again been struggling with giving. I deceived myself by convincing myself that since I do not have a “job”, there is no reason to tithe or give. This book once more had an impact on me and I realize how important it is to joyfully give because: everything I own or seek to own will be completely lost, the money I possess is not mine—it is God’s, and because heaven, not earth is my home.
The Treasure Principle states that “you can’t take it with you—but you can send it on ahead”. This adds a whole new way of thinking when I give. Nothing I can buy on this earth will give me joy. Nothing on this earth can accompany me to heaven. Nothing at all. Matthew 6:21 sincerely affected me where it asserts, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It had never ever occurred to me how much I value my needless possessions. The Treasure Principle not only gave me a greater realization of how much I need to make Jesus my treasure (not money or possessions) but it also gave me a better understanding of how God owns everything.
Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. I own nothing. God has blessed me with so much, but none of the possessions or money will last—they will all fade away. Furthermore, I’m simply a steward of the money God has given me. God entrusts money to me, so I must use it in the most God-glorifying way. I learned that giving this money entrusted to me gives me a joy that no possession can give. Most importantly, not only does it give me an indescribable joy now, but the joy I will experience in heaven will be unparalleled.
Jesus promises that those who sacrifice on earth will receive a hundred times as much in heaven. I never before had the concept of actually “owning” things in heaven. I have learned so much about how God rewards us with eternal treasures. There is nothing on this world that will last. However, the eternal treasures I store up, when I give here on earth, will last for all of eternity.
I want to put away my insignificant earthly treasures, and always live for one treasure—Jesus Christ.
Andrew M. DiMarcangelo, Age 15
The Treasure Principle is an amazing book that should challenge all who read it. On the back there is a quote by Howard Dayton, which says, “The Treasure Principle will change your life!” And only by God’s amazing grace, I truly do believe, that this book has changed my life.
Before reading this book, I was engulfed by the possessions of this world, and how I could obtain them. All the money I had went to buying myself new shoes, sports equipment, etc. I understand that there is nothing wrong with buying new stuff, but there wasn’t any balance in this area of my life. I never thought about giving my money to the Lord or to the needy, I really just thought that was a waste of money. I felt like I needed stuff for myself to be cool, or to look cool, but God showed me how terribly wrong I was.
After reading this book for about ten minutes, I was already deeply affected by the truths that I was reading in the first couple of pages of this book. It talks about how earthly treasures will not last forever, but the treasures that we store up in heaven will last for eternity. Randy Alcorn uses the section in Matthew 6:19-21, to prove his point. It says, “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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This verse really challenged me, and made me search my heart, and find where my treasure really was. The Lord was showing me throughout this time, that my treasure wasn’t fully in Him, but it was in the possessions of this world.
One thing Randy said that really hit me was that storing up treasures on earth isn’t simply wrong, it is just plain stupid. He used a verse in Proverbs, which 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.” He said next time you buy a prized possession, imagine it sprouting wings, and flying off, because sooner or later it will disappear. Another story that just kept pounding this truth deeper and deeper inside my heart was the story about John Rockefeller. He was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, and when he died, someone asked his accountant, “How much did he leave?” The accountant replied, “He left...all of it.” The Treasure Principle, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” is an amazing truth, with an awesome eternal value.
God really showed me through this first chapter, that I need to live with an eternal perspective, and realize that my time here on earth is short. He showed me, that it is stupid to store up treasures on this earth that will surely fade away, but what better investment of my time here on this earth than to store up treasures in heaven, which are eternal. Another thing that affected me that Alcorn said was that we need to be joyful givers. We have got to understand that God owns everything, and as Alcorn puts it, we are just His “money manager”. If we understand this concept we will be more joyful givers because we will realize that we are using God’s money to further God’s kingdom.
One thing Randy said, that I think is so true, is our giving is a reflexive response to the grace of God in our lives. He said, “It doesn’t come out of our altruism or philanthropy—it comes out of the transforming work of Christ in us. This grace is the action; our giving is the reaction. We give because He first gave to us.” It is only by God’s amazing grace, that we can give, and experience the benefits of giving joyfully.
God also showed me through this book, that I can’t worry about “losing” my money when giving. When I’m giving, I am being obedient to God’s word, and He will bless me for that. Jesus said in Luke, “Give, and it will be given to you.” The book says that He is the greatest giver in the universe, and He will prosper me. But, the book also says that God does not prosper us to raise our standard of living, but to raise our standard of giving. Paul says in 2 Cor. 9:11, “You will be made rich in every way, so that you can be generous on every occasion.” Again, this shows that it is only by God’s amazing grace that we have the privilege to give.
This book has had a huge impact on my life, and by God’s grace, it has been life changing, and I am so grateful for that.
Joshua Volz, Age 17
“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 the field” (Matthew 13:44). The Treasure Principle is a true treasure and has been of great benefit to me. Unfortunately I am not characterized by careful nor close watch over my wallet, I am free in spending and often too tight in giving. The foundations set down by the six keys has helped me to rethink the way I view and spend my, or more appropriately, God’s money. The keys that have impacted me the most have been the first and fourth keys.
Key #1 says — God owns everything. I’m His manager. For me it is important to see all that God has endowed me with monetarily as His. I have no right to spend His money on what would bring me pleasure and status. I, as His steward, am to use the money for His purpose and to His glory. Practically that would translate into, say, at Christmas time, praying and asking God what He would have me do with the money that I got (maybe invest in missions or the church’s building fund, etc.) instead of using it to buy something I wanted, but really didn’t need.
Even more helpful to me is the reminder that comes in Key # 4—I should live not for the dot but for the line. All too often my eyes are fixed on the temporal things of this earth and not on what is really important, the eternal and spiritual. “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). God promises that He will multiply what we invest in His kingdom. What Jim Elliot said rings true, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” I must remind myself that this world is passing away and the things in it will rust and burn (Matt. 6:19-20). At times it is still hard for me to see what is so tangible as temporary and trivial and “what is unseen” as what is of real importance. But with the grace of God I can change.
The Treasure Principle has convicted me of several things among which are selfishness and an unwillingness to give of what God has so graciously gifted me with. It has helped me to keep my eyes on what is truly important and has corrected my view of ownership to that of steward. For such a little book it is certainly accompanied by a large amount of conviction and I believe if all who read it applied its principles, it could change the course of history. It runs against the human nature to give away money to something that does not yield gratification with immediacy, but with the truths of this book affecting one’s heart, it is hard indeed not to desire to do so.
Matt Diaz, Age 14
My grandfather often told my mom that the best things usually come in small packages. This is true of The Treasure Principle, a small book with a life-changing message. The Treasure Principle has affected me in four specific areas: spending on entertainment, giving to the Celebration scholarship fund, donating books to our future church library, and giving God free-will offerings.
One illustration that has helped me to have an eternal perspective is Randy’s likening of earth to my hotel room and Heaven to my home. It makes more sense to forego accumulating furniture for your hotel room so you can save it for your home than doing it vice-versa. I feel that lately I have invested much time and money into entertainment, especially watching The Lord of the Rings movies, and that I could be using that money to further God’s kingdom.
The Treasure Principle gives many examples of people who knew what was most important and acted on it. I was especially inspired by the story of the child who asked his or her parents to take the money they had been saving for a trip to Disney and give it to help enslaved Christians. That child’s sacrifice encouraged me to give to the Celebration scholarship fund what I had been planning on using to buy some discounted audio books from Mars Hill.
God used The Treasure Principle to affect my heart in another way about audio books. In the last chapter, the question, “Five minutes after you die, what will you wish you had given away when you still had the chance?” arrested my attention. I considered what I valued then, and my books on CD immediately came to mind. I have decided that, like Randy Alcorn’s own books, if I donate them to our future church library, mine could bless many more people than my family and the few I have loaned them to. They are valuable in reality and in my opinion, yet they will be worth much more if turned into eternal treasure.
The Treasure Principle is teaching me that God expects free-will offerings as well as tithing. By His grace, my parents taught me to tithe when I was very small, but my giving to the church has stopped there. Mom challenged me to ask God to help me set a fixed amount to give every Sunday and then do whatever work I need to do in order to get the money. He has already given me abilities to use to make the money. He is so faithful!
It has been His faithfulness to use The Treasure Principle to teach and affect me in these ways. He gave me the convictions and ideas of how to apply what I learned. And He will give me the grace to carry them out.
Kristen Diaz (blind student), Age 17
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” This quote by Jim Elliot is my favorite quote throughout the entire book. Chapter by chapter, The Treasure Principle continuously made me aware of how great it is to give. Not only does God reward those who give, He commands that we must give in His Word.
God has changed many hearts in the Bible. Zacchaeus was a tax collector with plenty of money. When he saw Jesus one day, his heart was changed. He proved that his heart was transformed by giving half of his possessions to the poor. We must prove there is change in our lives by showing godly fruit. Jesus spoke of another rich man who was rich toward himself and not God. His spiritual condition was evidence that he was not giving himself to God completely. I find this happening to me many times a day. I see to it that my will is done instead of handing myself completely over to God and seeing that His will is done.
An area I really struggle with is storing up my treasures on earth. We should only have three treasures: Jesus, heaven, and eternal rewards, I seem to have accumulated much more than that. I find that I am too often living for friends, family, holidays, etc., instead of living for God only. There were two things that Randy Alcorn said in this book that have helped me with this struggle. The first one is, “We will never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul. Why? Because we can’t take it with us.” This is such a true statement. It may seem ridiculous at first but it clearly tells us the truth. The second statement was one of the book’s Treasure Principles. It says, “You can’t take it with you—but you can send it on ahead.” This has helped me to see that I can do something now in preparation for the future. And better yet, it is something that God is pleased in.
God owns everything. That’s as plain and simple as it gets. We are not the owner of our money because it is God’s. But we are the stewards. We should look wisely into investing His money in ways that please Him, not us. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Randy Alcorn said, “This doesn’t mean we should give only when we’re feeling cheerful. The cheerfulness often comes during and after the act of obedience, not before it.” And if we keep in mind that everything we have and own belongs to God in the first place, it should make giving easier and with more joy. Also, we do not have to be rich to give. It is a privilege of the poor, like the lady in the Bible who didn’t give much for offering. The point is that she gave everything she had and was happy to give it.
In The Treasure Principle I found out many things about giving that I had not known before. For instance, we are most like Christ when we give. Knowing this should compel us to give even more. In addition, giving is an act of worship. I love to worship God so giving is exciting now knowing that it brings Him praise. What better thing could happen then to bless someone and worship God at the same time! Hal Thomas said, “When I give I am saying, I love you Lord’.” Another wonderful fact that I learned from Randy Alcorn is that, “Because we give, eternity will be different—for others and for us.” I had never thought of it that way before.
The Treasure Principle helped me to see that money leads my heart. After I was made aware of this fact I saw that it is so true. Just as Matthew 6:21 says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” my heart goes where I put my money—God’s money. I put money into things that will bring me joy when really my joy should be found in Christ alone, not wealth. So often I get caught up in thinking that earth is our home. I lose sight and forget the big picture. Earth is not our true home, heaven is. Why am I storing up things for here when they will do me no good in heaven? Because I fall into that trap that leads me to believe that this is my home. But more and more God has helped me to see my real home, Heaven.
Once I started reading this book I wondered where to begin giving and then I came to chapter 5, which tells me to begin by tithing. I have regularly tithed for years but this chapter just encouraged me to tithe more. I saw how God doesn’t just look at what we give but also what we keep. I realized that yes, I could give more. And that no matter what God will always provide. God doesn’t bless us for our pleasure. He blesses us so that we can give and give in proportion to how He’s blessed us.
Jaimie Miller, Age 14
I was half way through the book when I read this passage,
“Jesus told his disciples to use worldly wealth (earthly resources) to gain ‘friends’ by making a difference in their lives on earth. Our friends’ in heaven will be those whose lives we have touched on earth, and who have their own heavenly dwellings.”
As soon as I read these words I was struck. Mr. Alcorn was talking about giving financial to help the needy. What I thought was this should be carried a step further. I can’t just give money to missions and leave them to do the work. I need to be willing to give up my life so that I can affect the lives of others and tell them about the heavenly dwelling that can be theirs. I have always known that as a Christian I must be an evangelist, but when I read the words, “Our friends in heaven will be those whose lives we have touched on earth, and who have their own heavenly dwellings.” I was convicted for my lack of passion for the lost.
Yes, I have shared the gospel before. And yes, it was a great joy to do so. However, I felt like sharing was just something we do. We live our lives and when the occasion arises we share our faith. What I felt God say is, “Your life is not your own. Are you willing to lay it down so that you can touch the lives of others? Are you willing to cast aside your idols and follow me with all that you got?”
My future is a huge idol in my life. I have it all planned out, what college I will attend, what profession I will pursue, and who I want to marry. I want to attend Rutgers, graduate with honors as a history major, and get married right after graduation. Then life would just go. I would work, be part of a local church, and raise a family.
Now don’t get me wrong these are all good things. However, my hold on them is too strong. Would I be willing to forget college, live as a single, and devote my life to preaching God’s word no matter where that took me? Sadly the answer to that question is no. If God called me to be a missionary to Africa I don’t think I would be willing to walk away from all of this and do His will.
In the past it has always been easy to say, “Lead on God and I will follow.” However, in my heart of hearts what I am really saying is, “Lead on God and if it fits into my plans I’ll follow.”
I must be willing to lay everything down—my dreams and my sinful habits. I need to forsake all and count it as rubbish. The very things that hinder me, I have been holding onto. I must allow myself to be no longer shackled by my own aspirations and by my craving for ease. My flesh has been crucified with Christ. I am no longer a slave to my desires. He liberated me for a purpose—to free other slaves. I must live for this purpose no matter the cost. It must be my very life. Without condition I need to be able to say, “Here I am God. Send me.” I need to do this, with this goal in mind, that the way I live here on earth can affect the way others will live their lives in eternity.
Jeff Boettcher, Age 17
I was excited when I received the assignment to read The Treasure Principle and write a paper about it. I had read the book before and had greatly benefited from it.
When the book was talking about how the Macedonian Christians had rich generosity, with overflowing joy, during severe trial and extreme poverty, I was greatly convicted. Giving is not a luxury of the rich, it is a privilege of the poor.
God has blessed me so greatly and I am so selfish. There are people all over the world who do not even have food in their stomachs and roofs over their heads and I wake up every morning and am not even grateful for what I have. Giving should be a privilege and a joy.
When I give out of joy, I find that God blesses me more then when I give out of duty. When I begin to have the “I am such a good worker that I get so much money” mentality, I definitely see that God reminds me that He is the one that provides everything for me. It is only by His goodness that I am not poor and homeless.
If it becomes a chore to give, it probably means that my heart is lingering too long on the things of this earth and that my thoughts have been dwelling on things of my life here. I need to constantly remember that heaven is my home. This earth is only a short part of my life, when I think about it with an eternal perspective. This is not my home. I am going somewhere far more spectacular than this. I need to remember that—I so easily forget.
Even though everything about giving for eternal rewards sounds quite selfish, it’s something God commands. He keeps track of every smallest act of kindness and we will be rewarded for it. When giving becomes more of a hassle than a joy, I need to remember that God sees it and it will not go unnoticed. If I handle His money faithfully and I am a good steward of what He has given me, Christ will give me true riches—eternal ones!
I cannot be reminded enough to give with an eternal perspective. Five minutes after I die, will I wish that I gave more generously, will I wish that I was more generous with my time? I cannot wait until five minutes after I die to answer that question. However, I can answer it now for the actions I made five minutes ago. Was I being selfish? Was I thinking about myself more than I was thinking about anyone else? I cannot see as clearly now as I will then, but I still need to live the next five minutes like it’s my last five minutes.
Betsie Bond, Age 14