An Argument for an Attitude of Abundance

What happens when resources become scarce?  Human nature displays its dark side of greed, self-protection, oppression and hoarding.  Those who have been blessed with resources naturally act to protect and enlarge their financial positions and preserve their power.  Therefore, the rich and powerful tend to get more rich and powerful, the not-so-rich are lucky to break even and the poor get poorer.

Sound familiar?

The social, political and economic reasons for the skewed wealth distribution described in the above video are many and much debated.  I’m not going there.  However, I suggest that one underlying aspect of this phenomenon is a mind-set of scarcity

A presumption of scarcity imagines a national economic pie that must be equitably sliced so that everyone gets a fair share.  The natural solution to gross economic inequity is therefore to take money from the uber-rich and redistribute it among the rest of us.  Makes sense.  I have one question: Who slices the pie?  Answer: The rich and powerful. Naturally, those who control the creation and distribution of wealth will serve themselves and the gap will only grow.  It’s human nature.  Count on it.

 I wonder what would happen if Christians started to behave out of an attitude of abundance. 

An attitude of abundance is not liberal or conservative.  It’s not trickle-down economics or Occupy Wall Street.  It’s not naïve or baseless positive thinking, and it’s most certainly not a prosperity gospel.  An attitude of abundance is a sober, well-founded, confident recognition that God is not a God of scarcity but of abundance and that his resources are inexhaustible; His resource pie is limitless.

“If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth…”  Deuteronomy 8:18 from The Message

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Jesus in John 10:10

An attitude of abundance generates generosity (I can give freely, because God’s resources are infinite) and unity (I don’t have to fight you for limited resources.  God has enough for all of us).  Scarcity thinking produces fear (I must hang on to what I have), and division (us vs. them). 

God has deposited his vast resources in his people, so when we allow a scarcity mind-set to incite fearful, protective, and divisive behavior we lock up the very resources that we seek to protect.  And we get exactly what we fear.

What if God’s people began to infect our scarcity minded culture with an attitude of abundance by acting in faith instead of fear, generosity instead of greed, and confident hope instead of anxiety?

What do you think?

19 thoughts on “An Argument for an Attitude of Abundance

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  1. These words speak to our material needs (and wants) – but they have so much application in many other areas of life, don’t they? Whether it is a church staff who expresses an attitude of scarcity when they’re begging people to sign up for nursery duty or a busy working mom who is dealing with a very real scarcity of time, we are quick to recognize our lack, and not apt to remember the faithfulness of our Provider.

    Thanks for the reminder, Judy!

    1. Exactly what I’m thinking, Michelle. God’s material or human resources are never inadequate. It is we who bury them like hoarded treasure only to find out that the real treasure is found in releasing and employing them. Hmmm…sounds like a good topic for my next post:). Thanks Michelle!

  2. This is great thinking and requires a lot of faith. I am working on this mind set! I need a lot of grace as I do work on it!

  3. Hi Judy. I’ve heard pastors also describe it as a “spirit of poverty”–in essence, it’s when people don’t grasp all the points you’ve made here: that we have a God of Abundance, who desires to give generously all good gifts to His children. Whenever we think “it’s all up to me”, we quickly run out of resources; but when we are trusting in our Heavenly Father for all our provision, we discover His endless flow, and we can REST IN HIM. Praise and the attitude of gratitude prime His pump, I’ve found! God bless you richly!

    1. You make an excellent point. Our limits are very finite, and maybe the growing scarcity thinking in our culture is a reflection of more self-sufficiency and dwindling faith. “Praise and the attitude of gratitude prime His pump.” Love it! Rich and abundant blessings back to you, Caddo!

  4. I so agree, Judy. What great thoughts in a great post.
    One of the things that was striking to me about the American church when we moved here (as opposed to the South African church we had come from), was that we found American Christians by default to have much more “abundance” thinking than the “scarcity” default position we were used to. I had grown up with any possible ministry idea being shot down within the first few minutes because “we don’t have the money for it”. It was so refreshing to be in a community where people dreamed big dreams and said “God will provide”. Scarcity thinking in the church, driven by our fear that we won’t have our “daily bread” tomorrow, can put a stranglehold on being courageous for God’s Kingdom.
    We “raise our Ebenezer” and trust that He CAN and DOES provide, so we’d best keep serving, giving, living, trusting….

    1. Thank you for your very helpful perspective, Bronwyn, and I echo your call to “keep serving, giving, living, trusting…” I don’t know how long you’ve been in this country, but I’m curious to know if you noticed any shift in that abundance attitude. From where I sit it seems churches are much more timid about investing in new ideas perhaps out of a scarcity mind-set. Any thoughts? I find it fascinating that abundance thinking will actually produce abundance if we release the wildly generous resources that God has invested in his people while scarcity thinking, as you so well point out, strangles us and results in the very scarcity that we fear. Here’s to living abundantly!

      1. My first visit to the US was in 2000, for a few months, and we have lived here since 2004. I haven’t been as involved in ministry decision making in the last 5 years as I’ve been home with my kids, but I do think it is fair to say that I think the consequences of 9/11 (in an increase of personal fear as well as a societal feeling of pressure as the economic implications of waging multiple wars are revealed) have been felt more by the year. Much grace is needed.

        1. Thanks Bronwyn. I love your closing thought: “Much grace is needed.” Yep. Thank God his grace is just as unlimited as all of his other resources!

    1. I agree, Shannon. Yet we fall into scarcity thinking with the rest of the culture even while we worship our abundant God. As usual, I am preaching to myself here:) Thanks for your thoughts!

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