In his best selling classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey offers this insight.
“Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.”
“The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit—even with those who help in the production. They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.”
“The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth or security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in the sharing of prestige, recognition, profits and decision-making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity.”
These attitudes are not new. There have always been people worried about not getting what they believe they deserve. Of being left out. Cheated. Robbed. Of someone having more which means we will have less.
In Luke 12 we read about a man who came to Jesus demanding that He make his brother divide an inheritance. Jesus responded that His role was not being an arbitrator in such disputes. Then added this warning: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk 12:15).
We think of abundance as applying to wealth and material possessions. When we have lots of money in the bank, a large investment portfolio, a big house, fancy new cars, fine clothes, with a pantry and freezer filled with food, we believe we’re living an abundant life.
Yet, Jesus said the very opposite. Your life and mine is not all about the abundance of things. However, Jesus did say that he came that we might have life in “all of its abundance”(Jn 10:10). The Greek phrase means “a superabundance” of something. It means “superior,” “extraordinary,” and “surpassing.”
But, if a full life is not about an abundance of possessions, what did Jesus bring to provide us an extraordinary life?
The Bible teaches that we have received “an abundance of grace” through Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17). God’s unmerited favor toward us, while we were sinners, grants us forgiveness of sins. Offers divine association. Allows access to God through prayer. Gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Accords us fellowship in a wonderful family. And promises us “all spiritual blessings” in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3).
It’s no wonder the Psalmist says “the righteous shall flourish” and enjoy an “abundance of peace” (Ps 72:7). When we are at peace with God, with other people, and feel inner peace, we enjoy “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8).
Abundance has a great deal to do with our attitude and perspective on life. Selfishness, suspicion, cynicism, greed, envy, and jealousy rob us of life’s radiance. Undermine our joy and happiness. And blind us to our daily blessings.
On the other hand, a recognition of God’s goodness leads us to a deeper appreciation for our physical, material and spiritual provisions. When we grow in faith, abound in love and fortify our hearts with hope, we truly enjoy an abundant life.
If you don’t feel abundance, the problem may be internal instead of external. The apostle Paul provides a great example in this regard (Phil 4:10-13). He had experienced abasement as well as abundance. He had been both praised and persecuted. He knew what it was to both be hungry and well fed. To have plenty and be needy. Yet, he said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”
He knew that God would supply all of his needs. Paul possessed an attitude of abundance.
The 19th-century French poet, Jean Antoine Petit-Senn, made this astute observation that would improve our outlook. “Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman