If the polls are correct, many Christians spend more on their pets than they give to missionaries (our pets are better cared for than our missionaries). If the polls are correct, most Christians only tithe about 2% of their income. Even if those polls are a bit off, I think it is safe to say all of us need to hold a little (or a lot!) less tightly to our cash and coin. So when I saw Randy Alcorn’s Managing God’s Money on the Tyndale Blog Network, I quickly requested a copy. I’ve not read anything by Alcorn before this one; I was happy to see he did his best to summarize the Bible’s teaching on how Christians should handle the money God has given them to utilize as pilgrims and stewards.
The book consists of six sections: 1) Money and possessions in the Bible, 2), Perspectives that hinder biblical money management, 3) Stewardship in light of eternity, 4) Giving and sharing, 5) Wisdom and money, and 6) Training our children (and churches) about biblical money management.
One part I appreciated was (in section 2 above) Alcorn’s discussion of materialism. He writes about the materialistic aspect of Western culture, how it affects all of us, and how we can fight it. Alcorn also rightly criticizes the prosperity gospel: “Prosperity theology is like chocolate-covered rat poison.” He mentions the suffering Christians are often called to and also explains that God often gives his people wealth so they can give it to others who need it. Alcorn gives a great quote by Augustine: “Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.”
One part of this book I wasn’t completely convinced by was Alcorn’s discussion of rewards in chapter 11. He wasn’t suggesting that our giving earns us a place in heaven, but he did mention that heavenly reward should motivate us to give liberally. There wasn’t anything terrible in this chapter, but it was ambiguous and could have been more nuanced and theological. I also was disappointed that Alcorn never mentioned gratitude when it comes to managing money. The book would be much better if he had discussed the gospel and how it motivates us to a life of thankfulness – including managing money in a way that shows gratitude to God for his saving grace. To be fair, Alcorn did mention the gospel and he didn’t veer into legalism – I was just hoping for a clearer grace/gratitude discussion.
Having noted my critique, I still do recommend this book. It is easy to read, full of wise biblical advice, and very applicable to all Christians. From young married couples to older Christians who want to be better stewards of the money God has given them, the book will be a good help for many. I’ll end with a few of my favorite quotes.
“God entrusts riches to us, not so we can keep them, but so we can give them” (p. 72).
“Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me to live in luxury. It’s his provision for me to help others live. God entrusts me with his money not to build my kingdom on Earth, but to build his Kingdom in Heaven” (p. 133).
“Whatever role saving has in our lives, it should always be secondary to giving. And it must never be a substitute for trusting God” (p. 194).
“The almighty dollar bequeathed to a child is an almighty curse. No man has the right to handicap his son with such a burden as great wealth. He must face this question squarely: Will my fortune be safe with my boy and will my boy be safe with my fortune?” (Andrew Carnegie) (p. 209).
Read more about this book at Tyndale’s website (here). My thanks go out to Tyndale for providing this complimentary review copy.