I have a love-hate relationship with money. I think most people do. On the one hand money is a necessity–a resource we depend upon, a resource we need if we are to live and thrive in this world. On the other hand money is spiritually captivating, a resource that offers a particularly insightful look into our hearts. Money is the topic of Randy Alcorn’s book Managing God’s Money. This is a biblical guide to managing our money with an eye to eternity.
Many of you know that this is not Alcorn’s first book on money. I believe it is actually his third, so let me tell you how it fits into the Alcorn canon. While I haven’t read Money, Possessions, and Eternity or The Treasure Principle, my perception is that this book fits right between the two. In the book’s final pages Alcorn writes, “I wrote Managing God’s Money to serve as a small and inexpensive resource that covers a lot of ground in addressing financial stewardship with an eternal perspective.” More ground than The Treasure Principle but less than Money, Possessions, and Eternity. To that end it is printed as a mass market paperback and priced at just $5.99 (or $3.99 for Kindle).
Let me tell you how Alcorn goes about addressing this issue. He does so in six sections: Money and Possessions, Perspectives that Impede Faithful Money Management, Our Stewardship in Eternity’s Light, Giving and Sharing God’s Money and Possessions, Wisely Handling God’s Money and Possessions, and Passing the Baton of Wise Stewardship. As you would expect, he progresses from biblical teaching on the foundations of money to the way we use our money to the way we teach others how to use their money.
A few principles underlie much of what Alcorn teaches.
- Ownership: all of our money belongs to God.
- Stewardship: we are to be faithful managers of God’s money.
- Morality: money is not evil; however, it can be used to expose the evil that inhabits our hearts.
- Materialism: we are drawn toward desiring and idolizing money and possessions.
- The Treasure Principle: you cannot take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.
These are a few of the most important big-picture principles that bind the book together. Working in his trademark question and answer format, Alcorn teaches how we can (and must) handle our money and possessions in a way that honors God. This is no-holds-barred stuff; he teaches that most of us have neglected our responsibility to give deeply, consistently and generously. He rebukes the materialism that inhabits the church to almost the same extent that it inhabits the world. He calls for a radical rethinking of the way most of us relate to our money.
Speaking personally, I found the book very convicting. I read it in the run-up to a series I am building on this very topic, and this book has given me a lot to think about. There may be times in which Alcorn overstates the case just a little bit, but even then, I need to do more study to really determine if this is the case. My impulse as I finished the book was to empty my bank account and give it all away. If only it were that easy. A couple of days later my thoughts have (thankfully) moderated a little bit. But I don’t think I’ll lose the heart of what Alcorn teaches here. The primary takeaway for me is a simple one, but one I needed to ponder: All I have belongs to God; he is the owner and I am merely the manager. My house, my car, my bank account–all of these belong to him. it is my responsibility to ensure that I am seeing them not as my possessions but as his. This then puts me in the proper context of a manager. That is a critical difference that is already changing the way I think about all that he has entrusted to me.
Managing God’s Money is a powerful little book and a very helpful one. It’s priced low enough that just about anyone can afford to buy it and read it. And if you read it, I’m sure you’ll benefit from it.