The narrative of scarcity is so deeply ingrained in our culture, so deeply ingrained in us, that it’s incredibly difficult to escape it. It may take the form of hoarding, as seen on reality TV. Or it may take the form of obsessively checking the stock ticker. Or it may take the form of hiding savings under the bed. But whatever form it takes, this narrative is for us like water is for fish: we don’t even realize we’re immersed in it. This is precisely why when somebody gives, really gives, people don’t get it. It’s why a couple years ago a handful of commentators criticized Kent Brantly’s decision to give his time, his energy, his money, and even his life to serve the people of Liberia suffering from Ebola. Just like so many of us they were captive to the narrative of scarcity and didn’t even realize it.
We, too, have no idea how captive we are to this narrative. Which is why if we’re going to become generous givers, just like God, we’re going to have to recognize God’s abundance. Yet even more than that, we’re going to have to learn to trust in God’s abundance. And the thing is trust in God’s abundance means more than just saying “Yeah I trust in God’s abundance.” Whether we trust or not only becomes clear when we act out of that trust. This means that to trust in God’s abundance is to intentionally commit ourselves to becoming generous givers, people who give our time, our energy, our attention, our possessions, and our money as a demonstration of our trust in God’s abundance.
In a world in which nearly everybody is trying to take as much as possible, this may be the most peculiar feature of what it means to be part of the body of Christ. And yet, make no mistake, this is what we’ve been called to do: to be generous givers, just like God—giving to each other, giving to our neighbors, giving to our co-workers, giving to strangers, giving to organizations that do good work, giving to our church family, giving what we’ve been given.
trusting God to take care of us more than trying to take care of ourselves, so we can share more than we stockpile.
Walter Brueggemann helpfully draws our attention to the narrative challenges that make it difficult for us to fully commit ourselves to the practice of giving.
More Precious Than Silver
Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of giving:
1: Whether or not you regularly carry cash, keep some extra cash with you this week (maybe a $20 bill). Wherever you go and whatever you do, keep your eyes open for an opportunity to give that money away to someone who is obviously in need. Don’t talk yourself out of it by worrying about how they might spend it. This is about us giving, not controlling the behavior of others through our giving.
2: For some of us shopping is a form of escaping (buying something new to feel better), for others it’s practically a mindless habit (almost like an instinct). Still others of us shop out of a sense of needing to keep up with the latest technology or fashions. In order to cultivate greater awareness of your spending habits and create more financial space in your life to be generous, try to make it the entire next week (or longer, like a month) without purchasing anything new that is not a necessity. See how this change in spending impacts the rest of your life.
3: Take some time this week to reflect on your current commitment to sacrificial giving (to church, charities, and individuals). Find a way to make additional sacrifices in other areas of your life so that you can increase your sacrificial giving. How does this increase in giving help you help others?
This week’s playlist features songs that dwell upon the themes of God’s provision, gratitude, and giving.