Thursday, September 07, 2006


Some years ago I heard about the concept of "abundance thinkers" (vs. "scarcity thinkers"). Whatever you think of Disneyland, it is run by "abundance thinkers." For example, if you tell them you're thinking about opening your own theme park, they will be happy to share their ideas with you. You can learn about their training, facilities, whatever. They're not afraid, in other words, that you'll steal their secrets or their customers, because they know there are abundant possibilities, an abundance of potential guests, and lots of money to be made. If some guests go to your theme park, if you make a little money, there will still be lots for them. Not that they're complacent; they're just not stingy.

This short section from today's reading reminded me of "abundance thinkers". Paul tells the Corinthians that he's been bragging about their generosity, and he writes this about giving:
Now remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And he is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good work.
2 Corinthians 9.6-8
Did you see that promise at the end? Isn't that cool? Always having all sufficiency in everything -- wow.

But what does this mean, really? Does it mean three European sports cars parked in the garage of my 20-million dollar mansion? Does it mean such a huge pile of cash that I never have to trust God about any material thing?

Well, it doesn't say that. It does say I'll have plenty for every good work, though. Not every good work possible, but every good work that he has planned for me to do. This is a very freeing thing, because if God wants something done, then it's got to be his responsibility to fund it. If he wants me to go on a short-term mission trip, then he will (and has) provided -- sometimes by a fortunate circumstance, like a reimbursement/rebate I forgot was coming, sometimes by others' donations, and sometimes by giving us an idea of something we can do without for a while.

And what are the conditions on this promise? Nothing very specific.
  • sow bountifully, which I take to mean widely
  • think about it at least a little
  • give cheerfully
This doesn't seem onerous; it just seems reasonable -- and I think it applies even if you don't have the gift of giving. But it will be easier to actually do the list if you have that gift.

Now why do I think the list is reasonable rather than onerous? One answer might be "because I happen to have the gift of giving," which might be a cause instead of a reason. So I'll say this. Earlier we read how Jesus was himself rich and became poor for our sakes. As the recipient of such generosity, then, generosity is something that should flow from us.

More generally, we have a beautiful world, blue sky and sunshine, the gift of language, the chance of finding God and finding meaning for our lives, we can read (anyone reading this can, anyway) and get ideas from people from all over the world. And so on.

Yes, it's possible even with all this to be discontent at times. But we don't have to be. And if we remember to think about God's generosity, then with his help we can become more generous and thus become more like him.

Which is great in itself -- not to mention the promise!

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