Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to teaching the principles of God’s Word and assisting the church in ministering to the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled, and unsupported people around the world. His ministry focus is communicating the strategic importance of using our earthly time, money, possessions, and opportunities to invest in need-meeting ministries that count for eternity.
We were able to talk to Randy about Money, Possessions, and Eternity and how to have a biblically centered mindset regarding our treasures. Because of Randy’s rich answers to each of our questions, we’ve broken this interview into a four-part miniseries on finances. Be sure to check back tomorrow for part 4.
Vyrso Voice: When judging your relationship to money and stuff, where is a good place to start? How do you make an honest assessment of your relationship to your possessions?
Randy Alcorn: Many of us have never known what it is not to be materialistic. This is why we need so desperately to read the Scriptures, grapple with these issues, bring them to God in prayer, discuss them with our brothers and sisters, and look for and learn from those rare models of generous living in our Christian communities.
In the parable of the great banquet, Jesus describes invitations that went out to three men (Luke 14:16-24). All three declined. One said he had to go look at his newly bought field. Another had just gotten married and didn’t have the time. The third man had just purchased five yoke of oxen and was anxious to try them out. The master is angered by these excuses, and he orders his servants to “go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” Speaking of those originally invited, who were preoccupied with other concerns, Jesus said, “I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet” (Luke 14:24).
There was nothing wrong with what any of the three men were involved in. They didn’t stay away from the banquet because they were stealing or committing adultery. They stayed away because they had more pressing concerns—a new field, a new wife, a new herd. But regardless of their reasons—good or bad—the bottom line was the same: They were so preoccupied with their new treasures that they said no to the banquet giver and missed the banquet. Significantly, those without material resources were available to accept the invitation.
I think we need to ask ourselves tough questions. Including, for what seemingly good, legitimate, and compelling reasons am I saying no to God? Are my possessions and other pressing concerns causing me to miss the banquet? How would my family and I benefit, and how would God’s kingdom be furthered, if we gave away those possessions?
The only way to break free of materialism is through giving. God hasn’t entrusted us with so much to raise our standard of living, but to raise our standard of giving. So why not liquidate some assets and cut expenditures, and give increasingly more to God’s kingdom? Why not draw a line and say “this much and no more—we can live comfortably on this level of income, Lord; if you provide more than that we’re going to invest the excess in your kingdom.” If you do that, you will experience great joy and you’ll sense God saying to you “Well done.” And your children will grow up in a home that’s really about God’s kingdom.