How to Become a Great Giver!
About the Guest
Randy Alcorn offers some words of wisdom for those wanting to bless others through their giving.
Randy Alcorn offers some words of wisdom for those wanting to bless others through their giving.
How to Become a Great Giver!
Bob: The Bible has a lot to say about money. There’s a connection between our relationship with God and our finances, but some people have gotten ideas from the Bible a little mixed up. Here’s Randy Alcorn.
Randy: God’s not a genie. You know, we can’t say, “Well, if we give this much, then God is obligated to return this much.” Remember, it's His asset—it belongs to Him. If we really believe it belongs to Him, then we just need to be faithful. He will give us those promised returns, in eternity, for sure. Sometimes, He gives us the short-term blessing, as well; but we certainly can't hold Him accountable for it because He's God, and we're not.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, December 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If all we have, really, is God's money, maybe, we ought to pay a little more attention to what He wants for us to do with His money. We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. Have you been busy in the kitchen? Have you made the black bean soup yet?
Dennis: I’m working on it. This is a several-day adventure—my world-famous—the world’s-best, in all humility,—[Laughter]
Bob: Yes, of course!
Dennis: —black bean soup. It takes forever to make this stuff! I mean, you’ve got to take a turkey carcass—a bird gave up his life for my black bean soup. [Laughter] And you boil that carcass until there’s nothing left of it—there’s just broth—
Dennis: —smoky broth! Ahhh, it’s delicious—hickory-smoked!
Dennis: Then, you get rid of all the bones and leave a little of the meat in there. Then, you soak the beans in it. Then, you’ve got to cook the beans for about three or four hours—at least, the beans I’ve got. I don’t know where they come from.
Bob: So, this is an all-day process?
Dennis: Oh, yes! Oh, yes. In fact, there are those who would travel many miles to have my black bean soup.
Bob: Now, let me just say here, folks—because I know you’re listening to Dennis go on and on about his own cooking.
Dennis: But you’ve had my salmon!
Bob: I’ve had the salmon.
Dennis: Tell them the truth about my blackened salmon.
Bob: I’ve had the soup, too.
Dennis: Oh yes; what do you think about the soup?!
Bob: It’s pretty good soup. [Laughter] So—
Dennis: And you’re a soup man.
Bob: I am a soup man.
Dennis: That was one of the real surprises when I hired you. I didn’t think you were a soup guy. [Laughter]
Bob: Well, this is not FamilyLife Cooking Today.
Dennis: No, it isn’t.
Bob: We’re going to talk about money instead of talking about the kitchen because we’ve got a guy, who we sat down and talked to, not long ago, who, I think, has a great perspective—very practical thoughts—on how we handle our money.
Dennis: Well, there’s a reason why he’s got a good perspective. He is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries. Randy Alcorn is a friend. He’s also a husband, a father, and a grandfather of five. He’s also a donor to FamilyLife.
Dennis: He’s got a great view of money. In fact, one of his books—that I’ve given away to a lot of people, called The Treasure Principle—is really going to be a classic, I think, in just grasping how—where we invest our money is really a statement of where we, ultimately, have our values.
Bob: Well, and as it turns out, this conversation kind of syncs up with where FamilyLife is right now because we’ve got a few days left before the end of the year. We are asking God to give us what we need to go forward into 2014 and finish 2013 strong.
Dennis: Bob, we have prayed a lot—the month of December—about asking God to stir our listeners to stand with us, financially. I just need you to know that we’re here on the cusp of some very important days. We need you, as a listener—to go online—or pick up a phone, and call 1-800-FL-TODAY, and say: “I stand with you guys in your statement—your biblical statement—on marriage and family. I want to make sure you guys stand strong in the coming year.”
Bob: And one of the encouraging things that we’ve got going on right now is every dollar that is donated, between now and the end of the year, is being matched, three to one. You make a contribution—let’s say you give $50 to FamilyLife Today—that’s a value of $200 to us because of the generosity of some friends who have agreed to match dollars, three to one, between now and the end of 2013. We’re hoping to take full advantage of the generosity that they have offered.
Dennis: We are, and there’s a reason for that. We had some lean months in the fall. I want you folks to know—it’s very tight here right now. I want to be able to stay on every one of these radio stations across the country because, personally, I have never been more convinced that our country has reached the tipping point. It needs voices—biblical voices—who are not ashamed of the gospel because I think that’s the real solution people need—
but also, those who are not ashamed of the biblical blueprints for marriages and families—not folks who want to pick a fight. We don’t do that, here on FamilyLife Today—but, with love and compassion for all people, we want to stand up and represent the truth about marriage and family—not only for this generation—but for the generations that follow.
Bob: You can make a year-end contribution to support FamilyLife Today. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I CARE.” Make an online donation, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to stand with us. Make a donation over the phone. We look forward to hearing from you, and we appreciate your support of this ministry.
We think you’re going to appreciate the conversation that we had, not long ago, with our friend, Randy Alcorn, talking about how we ought to have an eternal perspective on money and stuff.
Dennis: I have known some businessmen and their wives who have become great givers—I mean—heaven-class givers.
They didn't start out that way. They began to exert their faith muscle and began to send it on ahead. The joy that they experienced, after they flexed their muscle the first time, fueled, Randy, future decisions.
Dennis: So much so that their lives, ultimately, radically changed—I think, in large part—due to their giving.
Randy: Absolutely. Giving is an addictive behavior. It's a very positive addiction. It's one that you just love—you take pleasure in. I was talking with a wealthy couple that said, "Our son and daughter are always telling us, 'Mom, Dad, you've got to fix up the house—do this; do that.” They're spending their time traveling overseas—visiting these orphanages in India that they're financially supporting. Their response to their son and daughter is: "Why would we want to spend our time and money renovating the house here? Where is the joy in that? We're doing what we love!"
Now, that's not to say there's anything wrong with the house or renovating the house—it's just saying: “Look! Once you get the taste of giving, it's hard to go back to the old stuff.”
Bob: Talk about that for a minute because you've seen some people who went from very nominal giving—now, these were people of means—folks who were wealthy folks. They may have done their civic duty, in terms of giving; but they really weren’t philanthropic.
You've watched some of these people get radically-transformed by the idea of being aggressive givers. What happened to bring about that transformation, and what's happened in their lives as a result of it?
Randy: I think—when you give, you experience a confirming work of the Holy Spirit in your heart—a sense that this is what you were made for—this is something that gives you pleasure / gives God pleasure.
Heaven is your home, and you're acting like heaven is your home by investing in eternity. I think that's an intangible, subjective thing; but it's a very real thing.
You talk to people who are givers, and they do not look back at their past giving with regret. Occasionally, there may be a place they gave to—they wish they would have given to somewhere else—but the giving itself—having parted with funds—nobody is sitting around, going, "You know, I wish we still had that money." They have taken such joy in the strides that they've gone forward in. Certainly, one of the changed areas in their life would be in marriages / in families—relationships with kids because this truly—giving becomes a family affair.
I was with a family that was talking about they're giving and different things that they were supporting. It is something this whole family is invested in. They travel, and they show the pictures to each other when they come back. They have vested interest in God's kingdom. It's something that—once you get going on it, it's something that—you really don't want to go back to the lesser life of just hanging onto stuff.
Dennis: Randy, I want to wrap things up here by just, perhaps, reviewing some principles from your book, The Treasure Principle—but also, just talking to, again, a couple who has financial capability about how they go about getting their game plan together. It seems that one of the things that we err, on the side of, is silence, when it comes to giving. We don't talk a great deal about giving because we're afraid that somehow—well, we read over in Matthew, Chapter 6, that if we talk about these things, we could lose our reward. Certainly, that's true. The Bible makes it clear we're not to boast and not to do things to receive the applause of people.
Dennis: But, on the other hand, don't you feel like a couple of things need to happen today? First of all, we really need to hear from some—men, couples, families—that are real heroes—courageous givers. I think you called them "giving warriors."
A second thing we need today is, I think, couples—who have capability, in terms of giving—really need to surround themselves with godly counselors—godly advisors. Psalm 1 is abundantly clear: “Blessed is he who walks in the counsel of the godly,”—seeking the counsel of those, who march to heaven’s drumbeat, and can help them discern which organizations are worthy of, perhaps, large investments and what organizations aren’t worthy or wouldn’t be a good place to invest. It seems like we leave the godly counsel, at points, when it comes to making some major decisions like this.
Randy: That's right; Scripture says we are to stimulate one another to love and good works. We can't stimulate each other to something—we can't be an example to each other in an area—without people knowing some basic facts of what we're doing. My marriage and Nancy's marriage cannot be an example to people unless people see what our marriage is like. My Bible study habits can't be an example to people—your evangelism habits can't be an example to people unless they know about you sharing Christ, and how you share Christ, and how God has blessed it, and these people have come to the Lord.
Now, when you share that with us, you could have poor motivation. You could be trying to draw attention to yourself, but not necessarily. So, we've got to take the risk in this area of giving because it's like every other area. If we give testimonies about how marriages are being healed, and how people are sharing the gospel, and how somebody has learned from prayer and fasting—we can think, "Well, gee, maybe, we shouldn't be talking about that."
But the thing is—if we don't talk about it, we're not going to be able to see into each other's lives enough to know what's going on.
I was very inspired by R.G. Letourneau when I learned that he was giving away 90 percent of his income. I've been very inspired, as many people have, by the stories of George Mueller, and the way that God provided through prayer; but we wouldn't know those stories unless they'd been passed on to us. We need to be able to see each other give—enough, at least, that we know who giving warriors are in the same way we know who the prayer warriors in the church are. So, that a young person can say: "You know what? I'm trying to live my life in the right way."
In the same way that I would know who to go to to ask for advice on how to cultivate a prayer life, I want to know who to go to to learn all we can learn about giving, and the joy of giving, and, “How do you do it?” and, “How did you get started on this path of giving?”
And in order to do that, I think we need to hear some giving testimonies—carefully, thoughtfully shared in a way that doesn't feed human pride; but nonetheless, takes the risks necessary to give real examples to the body of Christ.
Bob: In your book, The Treasure Principle, you lay out six basic principles that should govern our thinking with regard to our stuff—our money / our resources—and how we ought to use it. Can you quickly go through those for us?
Randy: Yes. The treasure principle, itself, is: “You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” This is where Jesus says, "Don't lay up treasures on earth, but do lay up treasures in heaven."
Randy: You can't take it with you—you can send it on ahead. The first key is that God owns everything. I am His money manager. So I remember: “Whose assets are these? They belong not to me—they belong to God, and I have been entrusted with them to invest wisely for His kingdom.”
The second key is: “My heart always goes where I put God's money.”
Randy: And that's based on what Jesus says in that same context, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So, if I want a heart for God's kingdom, there is a way to get it; and that's to give to God's kingdom.
The third key to the treasure principle is that: “Heaven, not earth, is my home.” As long as I think of earth as my home, I am going to, naturally, lay up my treasures here; but when I realize that heaven is my home, I'm going to focus on giving—investing in eternity—laying up treasures in heaven.
Dennis: That's where you're talking about the 10,000 percent return on investment.
Randy: That's right; exactly. The problem with prosperity theology is—not simply that it thinks that there will be a payoff to serving God—it's that it looks for the payoff at the wrong place, in the wrong way, at the wrong time.
Randy: There is a payoff for genuine obedience to God, but the great payoff is in eternity.
Key number four: “I should live, not for the dot, but for the line because, you know, our life here is brief.” It begins and it ends. It's like a dot; but from that dot, extends a line that goes out for all eternity. So, if we're smart, we're not going to live for the dot—we're going to live for the line—we'll live in light of eternity.
Bob: Yes, and the Bible says our life is like a mist or like a vapor—it vanishes quickly in light of eternity—but we have to have, as you suggest, an eternal perspective.
Randy: Yes, that's right. Key number five: “Giving is the only antidote to materialism.” Materialism is really a disease. Sometimes, it's called "affluenza," you know? [Laughter]
It’s something that needs a cure—it needs an antidote—and giving is that antidote. It says, "No," to just the accumulation of stuff; and it says, "Yes," to investing in eternity.
Then the sixth and final key to the treasure principle is that: “God prospers me, not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”
The reason He has entrusted this stuff to me—I should not assume is: “Just so I can keep it,”—in the same way that the FedEx guy shouldn't assume that, “Just because somebody gave me these packages, means I should take them home.”
Dennis: Yes, really. [Chuckle]
Bob: Those are some challenging principles that Randy's outlined in his book—just as this has been a challenging and a stimulating conversation that we've been able to have over the last several minutes. But, hopefully, Dennis, it's challenged those who are listening, not just to think: "Well, that's some good thinking. I ought to think more about that," but to step out and take some action steps; right?
Dennis: Yes, I'd encourage folks to do a couple of things. First of all, realize what the bottom line is here. The bottom line—that we're trying to move you toward—is the eternal perspective of living your life for Jesus Christ and investing in what He's doing—
Dennis: —and doing that now, not later—but now—and being obedient to doing that now.
The second thing I'd say would be very important is for a couple to hammer out their plan of giving together. It's not the husband hammering out the plan and giving it to the wife—it is a shared objective of a couple entering into the joy of giving, as a unit—and then, spilling that over, third, to their children and to their family—letting their family participate in that privilege of giving. Why? Because the family is a generational training unit.
You are training the next generation to know how to give. You don't know what kind of wealth your sons and daughters may become stewards over. As a result, you want to make sure they have had the right signals sent to them—that they see what you've done, and understand what you've done, and why you did it, and the book that you're basing your life on—the Scriptures. So that, someday—maybe, they'll face a similar decision, to what you're facing, with a vast amount of money—and can make a wise choice that truly honors Jesus Christ.
Bob: Well, we've been listening back to a conversation we had, not long ago, with Randy Alcorn. It's interesting to listen back, and find yourself nodding, and going, "I still agree with that!" [Laughter]
Dennis: And the reason is it's biblical. I just want to add one more thing—we're not talking about always having to have a vast amount of wealth or a lot of money. We just need to be stewards over that which God has entrusted to us. You know what? He's not required us to be wealthy. He has required us to be faithful. That's the challenge of what, I believe, Randy was doing, as we've had this conversation.
Bob: And I hope our listeners realize, as well, that any time we address this subject of giving, our desire is that listeners will be motivated to give to kingdom purposes; however, God stirs you to do that.
Bob: It ought to first be to your local church.
Bob: I think that's a commitment—an obligation—to be involved, financially, with the local church. Beyond that, as God gives you resources, He is going to point your heart in certain directions. We're saying, “Wherever He points your heart, send your money in that direction.”
I just want to make sure our listeners know because we’re listener-supported. We depend on donations for this program to be on the air in this city and cities all across the nation. I can imagine somebody going, "Oh, I know why you’re playing a message about giving,"—because we're listener-supported, and we depend on donations to keep our ministry on the air—but we're not talking about giving because we want to try to get you to give to us. We just want you involved in giving to whatever God has laid on your heart.
Dennis: Yes. I think the reason we're talking about this is because, for the most part, even though the Christian community is incredibly generous, we've got a ways to go in terms of biblically educating and training believers—new followers of Christ—around how God views money.
That's why we wanted to put Randy here, on FamilyLife Today, because we knew he'd shake things up. Frankly, we need to cause some people to pull back and question why they are doing what they're doing; and, “What has God purposed in our hearts to do in terms of giving, as a couple and as a family?”
Dennis: Then, training your children to know how to do that. We have to raise children to be trained in knowing how to invest wisely in God's work.
Bob: And I mentioned earlier his book, The Treasure Principle, which is a book that we've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. This is a book that families could read through together. It's a small enough book—the chapters are short enough. You could use this as a way to help train your children to think, biblically, about the subject of money and finances.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy of The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you’d like to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. Ask for a copy of The Treasure Principle, and we will get it sent to you as quickly as we can.
You know, one of the reasons we wanted to have this conversation with Randy Alcorn, this week, is because I know that a lot of families consider making year-end contributions to ministries like FamilyLife Today in the last week of the year. We know that because we see more donations come in to FamilyLife Today in the last week of the year than at any other time throughout our calendar year.
We’re grateful for those of you who do help support this radio ministry. I just thought it would be good for all of us to recalibrate our thinking when it comes to giving as we consider year-end donations to ministries like FamilyLife Today—
because, really, what happens in this final week of the year will determine what kind of ministry—how much ministry we are able to do in 2014. That’s really not overstating the case. If we get a low response from listeners to our needs, here at year-end, then, we have to look at where we make cuts. If we get a generous response from listeners, then, we’ll be able to do some things that we’ve had to put on hold for a while.
So, this really is a critical week for us. I’d like to ask you to consider making a year-end contribution to help support this ministry. When you do, the money you send us is going to be multiplied. We’ve had some friends of the ministry, as Dennis mentioned earlier, who have made available a matching-gift opportunity so that every donation we receive from FamilyLife Today listeners, in December, is being matched, three to one.
Your $100 donation unlocks $400-worth of benefit to FamilyLife Today. It makes available additional resources. So, we’re asking our listeners to be as generous as you can be, here at year-end. Help support the ministry. Help us take full advantage of this matching-gift opportunity. Together, we can make 2014 the strongest year ever for FamilyLife Today,in terms of reaching people with God’s design for marriage and family.
You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make an online donation; or call, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make your donation over the phone. Or you can mail a check to us. Our address is P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223. So, simply address your envelope to FamilyLife Today. Again, P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR, 72223.
With that, we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you’re able to join us back again on Monday when we’re going to spend time with a very funny guy—his name is Michael, Jr. You’ll get a chance to meet him and hear about some of the comedy he’s doing in churches and in all kinds of places all around the world. That comes up Monday. I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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