Every holiday and special occasion, I struggle to find the perfect gifts for my loved ones. I am not a naturally good gift giver, but I very much want to be, and the tension between those two realities can be stressful. I go back and forth debating whether or not the gift in question is adequate. Will they like it? Can they use it? Is this just going to end up in the back of their closet or for purchase at their next yard sale? But more than all of that, the most prominent question lingering in my mind is Will they know how much they mean to me when they open this gift? I want to give them a gift that makes them feel loved and appreciated. I want them to know they are priceless to me.
Money is a funny thing. It has monetary value here on Earth, but it can, when used correctly, supersede the realm of this life. And when it does, it is worth more than any price we could place on it. When we spend our money on things of eternal value, we truly make a priceless investment. These are the most important investments we can make, as they are the only ones that will stand the test of time.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
– Matthew 6:19-21
In his book The Treasure Principle, which is based on the scripture above, Randy Alcorn discusses six “Treasure Principle Keys” that teach us how to be good stewards of the money God has given us:
- God owns everything; I’m simply his money manager. We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted – not given – to us. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of considering it “my money” because we feel like we work hard and earn it. The reality is that God has given each of us the gifts and strengths we use to make money. We would not have the ability to do so without His gracious giftings, and when He allows us to make money or when He blesses us with financial gifts, He is entrusting it to us to use for His glory.
- My heart always goes where I put God’s money. Does it stress you out when your kids spill their juice and stain your expensive white carpet? It’s probably because you have invested good money in it, so you want to take good care of it. That’s what happens when we spend money – our affections go along with it. If we start putting our money towards eternal things, our hearts will be more invested in eternity.
- Heaven – the New Earth, not the present one – is my home. (Hebrews 11:16) My husband and I live in an old rental house. I am often tempted to spend a lot of money on new features to make it feel a little nicer, but every time I start to, I remind myself that we aren’t going to live in this house forever. It doesn’t make sense to invest a lot of money in a house that isn’t our permanent home. When we move from this house, we will be leaving whatever improvements we have made. They can’t go with us to our next home. The same is true for our spiritual lives. This Earth is our rental house, and we won’t be here long. We will spend eternity in Heaven, our permanent home, so that’s what we should invest our money in.
- Live for the eternal, not the temporary. Alcorn says, “We’ll each part with our money. The only question is when. We have no choice but to part with it later. But we do have a choice to part with it now. We can keep earthly treasures for the moment, and we may derive some temporary enjoyment from them, but if we give them away, we’ll enjoy eternal treasures that will never be taken away from us.”
- Giving is the only antidote to materialism. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It dethrones us and exalts Him. When we give, it says, “It’s all about you, God; not me.” It recognizes that God’s money has a higher purpose than our affluence. Giving doesn’t rid us of the things we care about; it shifts our perspective and causes us to care about eternal things.
- God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. God gives us more money than we need so we can give generously. Because God gives so generously to us, we are free to give generously in return because we know He will provide for us. He doesn’t bless us abundantly so that we can live in the biggest house, drive the nicest car, and wear the newest clothes. He does so to enable us to give!
I’m reminded of the feeding of the 5,000. A young boy gave the small amount of food he had, and Christ used it to feed a multitude. Of course Christ didn’t need a thing from anyone in order to feed the crowd – He could have done it without the little boy. Similarly, He doesn’t need our help or our money to accomplish His purposes, but He chooses to involve us in His miracles and gives us a chance to bless others and become an answer to their prayers. It’s an extraordinary, priceless opportunity that we shouldn’t pass up!