The trap of scarcity…

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scarcity

Scripture: Proverbs 11:24 Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. 25 A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.

Observation: This is a great illustration of the abundance of God.

Application: The church I lead in suburban Dallas has a problem right now. For the last three years our church has finished each fiscal year with a solid financial surplus, despite growing significantly in our giving every year. Our experience has been very much like the passage in Proverbs. The more we give away the more that seems to return to us. Well, this year has begun differently.

We ended April in a YTD budget deficit, not surplus. We discussed this at our Tuesday evening council meeting. No one is panicking of course as it’s still early in the year and things may turn around yet, but we are watching to see if this trend continues. We understand that if our revenues continue to fall short of expenses, we will have to cut back spending sooner than later.

A common reaction to a perceived financial shortfall, in a church or in our personal finances, is to cut back on giving to others. It makes sense when you think about it. You help your bottom line while making no direct personal sacrifices. However, scripture reminds us it is a mistake. Look again at verse 24:

24 Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. 

When we withhold our giving, even in times of economic hardship, we step out of God’s economy of abundance and back into the world’s economy of scarcity. What makes perfect sense from the perspective of financial logic leads us to “only suffer want”. It’s a trap.

Prayer: God of Provision, our passage from Proverbs highlights an important spiritual principle: abundance vs. scarcity. Scarcity thinking is rampant in our world, in our church, in our own lives. When it looks like there’s not enough to go around, we can hold too tightly to what you have first given us. Give us grace to embrace abundance even when it’s hard. You who provide all things will not fail us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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