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Channeling Randy Alcorn

In a previous post I wrote about the “rich” verses of the Bible and how pretty much everyone living in America ought to be applying these passages to themselves first and foremost. Today, I read the following in Randy Alcorn’s excellent book Money, Possessions, and Eternity:

“There’s no room for making wealth a source of security, or for lacking generosity or hospitality, or for an unwillingness to share. Still, Paul leaves a door open for Christian to be “rich in this present world” - but only if they carefully follow the accompanying guidelines related to their open-handed use of that wealth. The rich are not told they must take a vow of poverty. They are told essentially to take a vow of generosity. They are to be rich in good deeds, quick to share, and quick to part with their assets for kingdom causes. In doing so, they will lay up treasures in heaven. “Who are these “rich,” and how rich are they? Nearly everyone reading this book is rich, both by first-century standards and by global standards today. As of 2002, two-thirds of all countries had a per capita income less than 10 percent of America’s.

“If you made only $1,500 last year, that’s more than 80 percent of the people on the earth. Statistically, if you have sufficient food, decent clothes, live in a house or apartment, and have a reasonably reliable means of transportation, you are among the top 15 percent of of the world’s wealthy. If you have any money saved, a hobby that requires some equipment or supplies, and live in your own home, you are in the top 5 percent of the world’s wealthy.

“A youth pastor told me, “You can’t really talk to kids about giving, because they don’t have any money.” One look at their cars, clothes, video games, concerts, movies, fast foot, visits to Starbucks, and so on clearly says otherwise. In fact, even without counting the possessions that Mom and Dad buy for them, the average Christian teenager in America has $1,500 disposable cash income - far more than most adults in the world.

“We must lay aside our illusions and realize that when Scripture speaks of the rich it is not talking about “them” but “us.””

Living Simply

Following this, Alcorn exhorts us that there are numerous ways to live more simply and provides some compelling reasons why we should:

  1. We should live more simply - and give more generously - because heaven is our home. This is our temporary residence and we shouldn’t dedicate most of our time, energy, and money on things that don’t last.
  2. We should live more simply - and give more generously - because it frees us up and shifts our center of gravity. Our life would begin to center on God and not our possessions, breaking the grip of materialism.
  3. We should live more simply - and give more generously - because we’re God’s pipeline. We are the vehicle that God uses to bring blessing to a needy world. God gives us more than we need so that we may be generous.
  4. We should live more simply - and give more generously - because of the reward we’ll receive in heaven. Jesus provides this motivator (Matt. 6:20). If you’re seeking to make an investment, consider what has the greatest and longest lasting returns.
  5. We should live more simply - and give more generously - because of the dire spiritual need of the world. Alcorn quotes John Piper: “Three billion people today are outside Jesus Christ. Two-thirds of them have no viable Christian witness in their culture. If they are to hear - and Christ commands that they hear - then cross-cultural missionaries will have to be sent and paid for. All the wealth needed to send this new army of good news ambassadors is already in the church…”
  6. We should live more simply - and give more generously - because of the world’s dire physical needs. The biblical pattern is to see a need and give to meet it. If God has entrusted with more than we need (which he has) then we should live on less in order to give to those in need. This means keeping our income above our means, but consuming less of it and giving more of it.