When it comes to money and possessions, we need to think more eternally.
I agree with the writer's take that there is a big difference between Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace" and Randy Alcorn's "Treasure Principle." In my assessment, Alcorn's book is a better application of Jesus' teaching.
Jesus makes it abundantly clear in the Sermon (Matt. 5-7) that we should not store up treasures here on earth. We ought to be so careful when it comes to storing up gold, IRAs, stocks, real estate... we are stewards of what God has given us.
It's sad to me how many Christians forfeit the joy of sacrificial giving in the name of conspicuous consumption. As you may have heard it said... "Have you ever noticed how big a 20 dollar bill looks when you're giving it as an offering and yet how small it looks when you're shopping for yourself at the mall?"
Dallas Willard goes yard (once again) in chapter 10 of his book "The Spirit of the Disciplines." The title of the chapter: "Is Poverty Spiritual?" He lays out the bottom line on this issue, which is stewardship.
So to answer the original question from this reader- Leatha and I try to ask ourselves...
Is our use of money going to yield an eternal reward?
Is our 'storing up' causing us to trust God or our storehouse of money?
Why are we amassing more money?
Are we making this decision so it will help us give more later?
Can we consider our present giving to be "sacrificial"?
Do we trust the leadership and vision of the church we are giving to?
Let me issue a warning related to this...
A famous Christian leader (now with the Lord) said "it's wrong to own a vehicle over $40,000." I think it's ludicrous to start making those kind of judgments. We are stewards who will all give an account before God, not each other. You won't have to give an account to me (so I feel no need to judge you), but to God (who will judge us all). "Who are you to judge the servant of another?" (Romans 14:4)
Do you drive a convertible BMW?
Do you own a 5 million dollar house on the beach?
Do you have 12 million in your retirement fund?
My response to you is twofold-
1. I won't hesitate to challenge you not to wrap your affections around those things, but God...and to be generous (1 Timothy 6).
2. Can I take my wife on a date in your car while vacationing at your beach house?