An Abundance Mentality

When the Mega-Millions lottery prize climbs into the stratosphere, like it did a couple of weeks ago, with a prize of $370 million, I indulge in ridiculous escapist fantasies about what I could do with a sudden windfall of wealth of that magnitude. What would it be like to pay off the church mortgage, to be able to fund tuition for poor students, to support various ministries with gifts that would let them accomplish their mission? I think of dozens of ways that philanthropy could make a difference in the lives of people around me. It’s fun, but foolish! But, I also know that there are lots of people who do the same, for I hear the chatter between members of the news media, in the coffee shop, and among my friends. Most of us think, ‘if I had more, then I would be more generous.’ The truth is that most of us adjust our standard of living upward when we have more resources available to us. As our income grows, we discover all kinds of ‘needs’ exist in our lives that must be satisfied – a larger home, a newer car, a vacation to an exotic location, higher quality clothing, and things like that. Generosity will not necessarily increase if more ‘stuff’ is suddenly available to us.

Generosity is an attitude that we can develop whether we are poor or rich by society’s standard. All of us have something that others need: be it love, acceptance, support, time, or a listening ear. The book of the Acts tells the story of two preachers going to the Temple to pray. Their generosity is in inspiration! Take a look.
“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John.
Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.”
(Acts 3:1-8, NIV)

Don’t lose touch with a major point of this story by focusing exclusively on the miracle! The fact that a crippled man was made whole is wonderful and usually becomes the thing we talk about in this account. However, there would have been no miracle without the willingness of Peter and John to be generous- taking note of a man’s need, getting involved, and offering to help him! What if those two preachers had pretended not to notice him, embarrassed by the fact that they were too poor to give him a dime? What if they had just pulled their pockets inside out to reveal their lack of resources and shrugged off his request? But, they didn’t! A generosity of heart and spirit possessed them because they knew they had a Rich Father, so they drew on His account, and shared the power of the Spirit that they did have with the man.

And we can do the same. Wait! Don’t be so literal that you only read that story as indicating that we should be out healing people, though that could be what God wants you to do in a given situation. Don’t limit your faith in God! Evaluate your resources and go beyond your bank account. Then, adopt the attitude of Peter and John – “What I have I give you!”

What has God given you in abundance? Hope, Love, Peace, Purpose, Eternal Life, Insight – are a few things that our Rich Father promises us. The question is – are we hoarding those blessings, or generously sharing them? Covey, in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, observes that we live in one of two mentalities. Many of us have a Scarcity Mentality that sees the pie in life as limited in size. If someone gets a bigger slice, we assume it means our slice will be smaller. So we protect our resources and live defensively. Some have grasped an entirely different way of life based on God’s provisions. They possess an Abundance Mentality that trusts God to make the pie bigger as we share. From a place of a sense of security and personal worth, founded on God’s promise to meet their every need, they are generous – with their resources of every kind. And the Word says, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25, NLT)

When God called Moses to leave the desert and his father-in-law’s little flock of sheep, to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery and to the Promised Land, he offered all kinds of excuses why he was incapable of obedience! “I stutter. I’m a nobody. They’ll think I just made all this stuff up.” The Lord asked Moses a question that I want to leave with you today. “What is that in your hand?” Moses was holding an ordinary shepherd’s staff, a stick of wood! But, God used that stick to shake up the court of Pharaoh, like a scepter of authority in Israel, and even to part the Red Sea! But, when all was said and done, Moses had to give what he had before God could use it to change the world.

What is in your hand? What resources do you have? When God asks you to share, do it generously and see what He can do with what you thought was nothing!

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