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Unnecessary Scarcity (Goal of Giving #3)

When people are scared, they do dumb things.

We were all on edge during the first couple months of the pandemic. At one point a friend contacted me late at night saying he got a text from someone in Washington, D.C. President Trump was going to lock everything down for weeks, including grocery stores, and we needed to stock up quickly. Now there’s some frozen vegetables naming and claiming the back corner of our freezer because we are never eating those cauliflower stalks we never needed for the lockdown that never happened.

The pandemic brought out our worst fears and exposed that many of us were living with a scarcity mindset: that the world is finite and you must take care less you be left out. But even in good times, that hoarder mentality can lurk beneath the surface.

I discovered this while deep-diving into the enneagram. Most people venture only as far as knowing their “number.” But after digging into the “subtypes,” I’ve found them to be a fascinating revelation. For every number, you can be one of three subtypes: Social, One-to-one, and Self-preservation. So I’m a 3 (the Achiever), and heard it said that “Social” three’s want to impress the room, “One-to-one” is concerned with the people they care about most, and “Self-Preservation” three’s just do what they have to to survive.

I am that last one, self-preservationist. While most three’s are outgoing socialites, I’m the introvert who likes to plan things out, conserve energy, and pick my spots to perform. In high school, I liked acting in plays more than improv, and would rather do a presentation than give a last-minute toast.

And as a natural “conservationist,” living in a larger family, I learned to keep track of my own stuff, no matter if it was at home, on road trips, or at school. Being a pastor’s kid, I knew if I lost anything, it was gone. We would not buy a new one. Somewhere there’s a Teddy bear I left behind named Cinnamon living his best at a Motel 6 in Kansas City.

This crept into my giving, too. That is to say, for most my life it was non-existent. Didn’t give to the church, contribute more than $5-10 for gifts, or perform any larger act of generosity. I’d much rather do “acts of service” instead of giving up any of the little bit of money I had. That’s because I let my self-preservation mindset hold me in a trap for a really long time.

I was a stingy Christian, and my scarcity mindset was robbing me of the joy of giving abundantly. Little did I know what I was really missing out on.

In previous blogs, I’ve touched on the first two Goals of Giving. #1 Give Compassionately. #2 Give Freely. The next goal has been one of the hardest for me to learn:

#3 Give Abundantly.

God owns everything, and we are His children. He didn’t hold back, and neither should we.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Acts 17:24-25 

When your father is the God of the universe, then as his children, we have the keys to the Kingdom. But that’s not how many of us live our lives. We freak out about where we are going to live, getting a high-paying job, healthcare, relationships, etc. When all this time, God is sitting there saying to us, “What are you worrying about?”

Jesus says as much in Matthew 6, when Jesus describes how God feeds the birds of the air and dresses the lilies of the field, yet we are much more valuable than them to him.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31-35

Since our father is the Creator, how then should we use that privilege? Spread the wealth. We have been given incredible blessings in order to bless other people greatly.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-11

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Cor. 9:6

But really where we see the abundance given the most, is once again in the gospel. He gave away the riches of heaven for us.

For you know the Generosity (grace) of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 

(You can read more verses on abundant generosity here.)

Abundance isn’t about a number, but an understanding of who we are. Children of God. He’s blessed us immensely to go out and spread the blessing with everyone else. We need not hold back. Give freely, and give a lot.

*Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash. Enhanced by J.B.

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