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Book Review

Money, Possessions and Eternity - by Alcorn, Rrandy

Rev. ed. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. 520pp.
Emily Wilson, wife of TMS student Blake Wilson

“Jesus calls us to take action that breaks our bondage to money and possessions and frees us to live under his exclusive Lordship” (Alcorn 2003,5). So reads one of the opening statements in a book which in the past year has challenged my heart more than any other besides God’s Word to live a life fully abandoned to His will. Author Randy Alcorn's premise is this: if Jesus spent more words and time teaching about money than any other topic, “what did he know about money and possessions that we don’t?” (Alcorn 2003, 4). This is not a book analyzing financial strategies or other money related topics. On the contrary, the author seeks to turn our hearts from dependence on money to focusing our desires on Christ. And what he teaches us is of real value. While the 502 page book appeared daunting, I could barely put it down and even found myself getting up a half hour earlier in the mornings to be able to read more of it before I left for work!

The book is divided into four main sections: the challenges of money, developing an eternal perspective, giving of our possessions, and finally, handling the money and possessions which we must keep for “ourselves.” I found myself most encouraged by the chapters dealing with eternity. In these, Alcorn presents an idea similar to that of John Piperʼs book on Christian hedonism, Desiring God. It is not wrong, Alcorn argues, to be one who pursues rewards. For believers, however, what we consider to be valuable rewards should be different from what the world values. As he puts it, “If we came to God and said, ʻYou owe us – we want to be paid we would be dead wrong. But there is a payoff! And here’s the kicker – it wasn’t our idea that God would reward us. It was his idea! Satan didn’t make up the idea of incentives. God did. He made us the way we are. He made us to need incentives to motivate us to do our jobs and do them well. … Of course, reward is not our only motivation. We should be motivated by gratitude to serve God” (Alcorn 2003, 132-33). God made us to long for eternity when we will have the ultimate reward: the pleasure of being in His presence and serving in His kingdom. Money, Possessions, and Eternity provides a road map for how to deal with the difficult responsibility of handling material goods in a way that displays we are indeed sojourners on this earth looking forward to our true home.

I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book and discuss it within your family, and with other believers. It will truly be a delight, but also a challenge. Be warned: your thinking will almost certainly be challenged as the author shows you verse after verse which demand a lifestyle wholly committed to trusting the Lord, especially with the money He has given you.

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