Abundance or Scarcity?

Stewardship Sunday
1 Peter 1:3-9

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, dear friends in Christ, 30 seconds, that’s it, that’s all it is, 30 seconds. As many of you are aware, later today will be the much anticipated 2018 Super Bowl. And yes, many of us are disappointed, because the Vikings are not playing in it. But did you know how much one 30 second, just 30 second, television advertisement during the Super Bowl costs? The estimates are over $5 million. That’s crazy! But even crazier, is the fact that people, companies will pay it! Who could afford such costs? Who would you say is the richest American who has ever lived? You might think it would be Jeff Bezos who has surpassed Bill Gates with a fortune of around 115 Billion dollars from the company Amazon which he apparently began in his garage in the 90s, but it’s not him. Actually, the richest American ever was J.D. Rockefeller. He lived in the 2nd half of the 1800s through the first part of the 1900s and founded the Standard Oil Company right when cars and gasoline and oil were beginning to be needed. In todays dollars his fortune totaled somewhere between 300-400 billion dollars. One day he was asked, “How much money is enough?” And you know what he responded? “Just a little bit more.”

“Just a little bit more.” Does that describe your life? Whether you have hundreds of billions of dollars or a little less than that, doesn’t it always feel like we just need a little bit more? There aren’t enough hours in a day, there’s not enough time to finish projects at work, there’s not enough energy to finish the projects at home, not enough money to get what we want, not enough friendships, we’re just a little short. That’s really our human condition isn’t it? That we’re never really satisfied, never quite have enough, we need “just a little bit more.”

There just isn’t quite enough. And perhaps the word that describes that is “scarcity.” We go through life with a kind of scarcity mentality. If I just had a little more time, just a little more energy, just a little more sleep, just a few more friends, but I’m short. Scarcity.

But here’s the problem: it’s a lie. And here’s why, Because if I don’t have enough, that can only mean one thing: that God hasn’t given me enough. And that’s a lie that Satan’s been using since the very beginning. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had absolutely everything, they had a perfect relationship with God, perfect relationship with each other, the whole earth to rule, but then the devil came and convinced them that they didn’t have enough. “if we just had that fruit, God hasn’t quite given me enough, I need something more, I need something different.” That’s where scarcity began. And what happens next? Exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden: God begins to seem like he demands more than he gives. “Did God really say you must not eat from ANY tree in the garden?” How unreasonable! How awful!

But here’s what happens when we fall into this scarcity mentality: it hurts to give. Generosity is painful. Giving has lost its joy. Here’s a test to see if you’re living in this scarcity lie: How hard is it to give your money away? If it’s difficult and painful- you’ve bought into the scarcity lie. I just need a little bit more.

But that’s not the mindset God wants us to have. He wants to free us from the lie, free us from this attitude that feels that we’re always short. The first thing he does is takes us to a farmer. “Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Think of a farmer or a gardener: If you don’t sow seeds, you won’t reap. The farmer has to give to receive. In fact, the more seeds he gives up and the more plants he puts in the ground, the greater his harvest will be. That takes trust doesn’t it? God says that He who gives, receives, and whoever sows generously, reaps generously.

How can you trust God like that? How can you trust God to give generously? Can you count on him? Listen to this: “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Did you hear that? While the devil wants to fill us with this mindset that says, “Just a little bit more, then I’ll be happy.” What does God do? He says, “all.” “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” God is not a God of “just little bit more” but of “all.” God is a God of abundance, not scarcity.

Where does it all start? It starts with this: “God is able to bless you abundantly.” What is this blessing, this grace? Grace is God’s incredible undeserved love for us in Jesus. It’s like this abounding and overflowing love “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). How do we move past this “I need a little bit more” mindset? It’s the grace of God. You have it all! “You will be enriched in every way.” Not long before this section we are told: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Whoever thinks they don’t have enough in life is missing the big picture. Jesus died for you, Jesus has forgiven you, Jesus saved you, Jesus loves you, you are rich- right now!

Being rich isn’t about how much money or time or power you have. It’s found in what you have in God. You might not have a fraction of what Jeff Bezos has, you may never have enough money to by 30 seconds during the Super Bowl, but what do you have? You have God’s peace. You have infinite worth that is not found in how much money you have, but in Jesus’ precious blood shed for you on the cross. You have a freedom that all the money in the world couldn’t buy, you have the freedom of knowing that every single sin you’ve ever committed is forgiven. You’re not short, you have what you need most in all eternity- the overflowing, abundant grace and love of God!

I want to leave you with two practical thoughts. The first is: God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others and the second is: Live with an attitude of abundance. But first, God’s blessings are not to end with us, notice what God says, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” God blesses us with everything that we need for a purpose. He doesn’t want our blessings to come to stop with us. God’s given each of us an amazing purpose in life: you exist to be a blessing for others. God’s abundance flows through us to others!

Think of it like seed money. Seed money is used to start something bigger. The financial company Thrivent gives its members a $250 gift card for seed money in order to do an event to help in the community, you put seed money in your child’s college investments in the hope that it grows. God’s blessings are like that. The money, the time, the possessions, the talents, God gives us are like seed money to sow generously. He gives us blessings to plant them so that they grow and flourish and spread and bless more people with God’s abundance. So how much should I give? What are told? “God loves a cheerful giver.” Giving to others comes from the heart. It reflects your faith. Nowhere will God tell you and me how much we are to give. Rather, God simply leaves that up to you and me. But ask yourself, “What kind of God do I have? Do I have a God of abundance or a God of scarcity? Do I have a God who gives me a little or who gives me all?”

And the second thing is an attitude: Live with this attitude of abundance. It’s so easy to fall into this mindset of not having enough, of being short, but notice what God says! “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Whenever scarcity creeps in tell yourself: “God is able, God is able, all, all, all, I am rich, rich in what really matters for all eternity!” God has given you the exact right amount of time to serve him. God has given you exactly the right amount of money to serve him. God has given you exactly the right talents to serve him. Don’t have an attitude of scarcity, but of abundance.

God is able. Though He was rich for your sakes he became poor so that you through His poverty might be rich. Being joyfully generous is our response to the abundant grace of God! Amen.