“Some of us believe that there is a ‘cosmic pie’ and a bigger piece of goodness for you means a smaller piece for me.”
Have you ever fallen prey to that belief? That’s from Glennon Melton at Momastery, whose post When Her Good News Makes You Feel Bad explores the dangers of comparison and anxiety over scarcity. She explains the mindset of scarcity this way:
“When a friend (or ‘a friend’) mentions that she’s received a promotion at work, her son won an award at school, she’s just bought her third vacation home, or recently lost ten pounds . . . how do we feel? I know we say we feel happy for her, but how do we really feel? I think sometimes we really feel a little panicked. …We feel like our friend’s news means that now we have to run a little faster, push a little harder and get more aggressive in general. Because if our friend is getting extra money, approval, admiration, and general blessings...that must mean there are fewer of those things less left over for us.”
We must, Melton writes, do away with this false premise that “there is never enough” and learn to live the narrative of abundance.
Probably the most well-known voice for Abundance over Scarcity in modern Christendom is renowned Old Testament scholar Walter Bruggemann. He writes,
“We must confess that the central problem of our lives is that we are torn apart by the conflict between our attraction to the good news of God’s abundance and the power of our belief in scarcity — a belief that makes us greedy, mean and unneighborly. We spend our lives trying to sort out that ambiguity.”
Rather than living in a scarce world with minimal resources, he argues that the Good News of Christ shows us that we serve a large God who is infinitely resourceful and bountiful.
“The gospel story of abundance asserts that we originated in the magnificent, inexplicable love of a God who loved the world into generous being. The baptismal service declares that each of us has been miraculously loved into existence by God. And the story of abundance says that our lives will end in God, and that this well-being cannot be taken from us.”
Many Crosswalk authors have also reflected on this fight against anxiety to grasp the goodness of God. Sarah Martin writes about a powerful lesson she had to learn about abundance:
“Yes, Jesus is ready and willing to give us the desires of our heart BUT only if our heart is aligned with his desires, his fame, his plans. Abundance is just what God gives...it is part of his character. He doesn't just pour a teeny tiny bit of his love on us. No. He overflows our heart with his abundance. Jesus died on the cross with YOU and ME in mind because of his abundant love."
In Dr. David Jeremiah’s Turning Points devotional magazine, he remind us that a lifestyle of gratitude and an attitude of thanksgiving are foundational to experience God’s abundance in our lives.
“If you have planted the seeds of thanksgiving in your heart, the water of God's Word will keep them alive. Ephesians 5:20 exhorts us to be, ‘giving thanks always for all things to God the Father.’ Psalm 100 verse 4 says to, ‘Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.’ The Bible tells us that whenever we come before God, whatever our purpose or prayer request, we are always to come with a thankful heart.
…The very spirit of thanksgiving transforms the life of the one who renders it. I have never met a sour, complaining, grateful person, have you? Show me a person who is thankful, and I'll show you a person who can endure the most difficult situation in life and still find joy.
William Law wrote many years ago, ‘Who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not the one who prays most or fasts most. It is the one who is always thankful to God, who receives everything as an expression of God's goodness, and has a heart ready to praise God for everything he gets. That is a saint.’”
In her closing paragraph, Melton muses,
“The amazing thing about love and attention and encouragement and grace and success and joy is that these things are infinite. We get a new supply every single morning and so we can give it away all day.”
Or, as Bruggemann puts it,
“The closer we stay to Jesus, the more we will bring a new economy of abundance to the world.”
Have you wrestled to see life as full of potential and God’s abundance? Is it easy for you to feel anxious when others succeed, because you fear there won’t be enough of the “pie” left for you to eat? Check out Crosswalk.com for articles on Living the Abundant Marriage, How to Discover God’s Abundance When You’re Broke, and much more!
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor at Crosswalk.com
Publication date: January 14, 2015