Abundance. We all want to be comfortable in this life, don’t we? What that requires for each of us varies. Unfortunately, when we achieve a desired level of comfort, we too often look around and still see others with more, so start wanting more again.
Some of us even want more so we can do more for others. That’s not bad, right? But how does wanting more affect our perception of our blessings, and our ability to receive God’s abundance?
If I’m Good, God Will Bless Me
Do you think we get our concept of abundance wrong? When we think about abundance in this life, are we focused on the wrong things?
It’s easy to see how name-it-and-claim-it prosperity-gospel wolves in sheep’s clothing can pull the wool over their followers’ eyes. Who doesn’t want a God that longs to give the only good (from their perspective) things in abundance? It’s Scriptural! Right?!?
Ask any of the many Christians in restricted nations, practicing their faith at the risk of their lives, what they think of their genie-in-a-bottle Jesus.
In October, for our theme of Trust, we read Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith. It tied together many of our readings about men and women who chose to trust God and move ahead in faith. Parts of it sound so good to our comfort-loving ears. But much of it is hard. Very hard. Moving ahead on the paths God called them to did not bring many of these heroes the type of peace or blessings we want.
These died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
Hebrews 11:13, NASB
Others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
Hebrews 11:35b-38, NASB
Poverty, ridicule, imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom are all better than settling for the sparkly things we chase after, and the comfort we think we deserve.
How arrogant to think we know better than God what is good for us, and how He would be best glorified in our lives.
Abundance in Lack
The suggested memory passage for November and our look at abundance is a statement by Paul to the Philippian church. In it he shares his ability to content with much, and with little. Being satisfied with what we have doesn’t come naturally to most of us. We need to choose to look at life with the understanding that our perspective is limited, and we have all we need for what we need to do.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13, NASB
Times of plenty can indicate and illustrate God’s favor, as He promised to bless the Israelites in the Promise Land as they obeyed Him, and He has promised to bless them in the future. But we’re not guaranteed temporal riches, or even comfortable lives, as we follow Him. God’s greatest blessings in this life are His presence, intimacy with Him, and knowledge that one day we will be united with Him for eternity.
In fact, we’re guaranteed trouble in life in this fallen world, but God has overcome suffering. He has overcome death. And His victory is our inheritance.
How is it that the Living Water promised to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:3-30) doesn’t satisfy? Jesus promised that those who drink the Living Water He provides would never thirst again.
But sometimes I’m overwhelmed by thirst.
Everything in me cries out to be filled, and I wander a desert stumbling after mirages. And that’s the problem. We want Living Water AND…
Jesus is more than sufficient, but it’s from His well we need to drink. All those other things not only can’t satisfy, they dry us out, desiccating our heart and spirit.
To Me for… You?
After Jesus revealed His identity as the promised Messiah, the Samaritan woman went back into her city and told the people about Him. And they listened.
From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”
John 4:39-42, NASB
Everything I have or don’t have is only through God’s grace. Nothing God entrusts me with is for my benefit alone. We’re instructed to share with those who lack, and to look after those who cannot provide for themselves. We are to preach the good news of Christ, and teach others with less knowledge. When others suffer, we comfort them with the comfort we have received.
Freely you received, freely give.
Our November Listen When He Speaks theme is Abundance. What is Listen When He Speaks? A daily Scripture reading and writing plan, around a monthly theme… Learn more here!
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