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Every Black Friday, we hear about the sales seekers and the lengths they’ll go to to get a coveted item or items at a discounted price. They set the alarm to be up at the crack of dawn to be the first in line and beat everyone else there, proving that scarcity and plenty have a place amidst the Black Friday sales rush.

Scarcity thinking – lack or loss

  • Maybe there was a family situation where love was withheld, or we had to perform for acceptance. It’s almost like there’s a limited amount of love, goodness, money, talent, or opportunity. The thought that I need to get mine or someone else will.
  • Maybe we feel like we need to get ours from someone else by taking from them, outperforming them, or cutting them down.
  • Maybe if we feel like we’ve got ours, then we need to protect it by being defensive, stingy, insecure, or by lashing out and preemptively attacking others.

Scarcity thinking is not calmed by having or getting more.  

Scarcity quickly goes from a feeling or an experience to an identity. Those of us who struggle with this operate under the assumption that if I could get enough, achieve enough, be good enough, be loved enough, be accepted enough, or have that opportunity to be recognized by those people, be in that relationship, then we wouldn’t feel scarcity anymore.

That’s not how it works. The target always moves, and the mindset doesn’t disappear on its own.

When we believe in a God of scarcity, we instinctively look to other providers to make up the difference. Scarcity tells us to hang onto everything – like a hoarder. And most likely, someone who struggles with this is looking in the rearview mirror at a season of insecurity, uncertainty, or loss that shaped their scarcity mindset.

We hold onto things that are past their season because of the idea that we might need them in the next one. And over time, this all begins to take on the trappings of a god. It has a force with a power of its own that begins to rule us. As a result, it drains joy and goodness from our lives because we look at every turning point, person, and circumstance through the lens of scarcity.

The bottom line is you either believe God is a God of scarcity or a God of plenty.    

The world around us believes in a God of scarcity. There’s not enough, or we don’t have enough. We have to get what’s ours before it’s gone. And maybe some of us have brought that into our beliefs about our actual God. Unfortunately, there are so many Christians who practice the same scarcity mindset as the world around us and believe these falsities:

  • We have to give God his cut, or he’ll take stuff from us.
  • We have to appease Him or buy Him off.
  • Unless we perform at a certain level, God is profoundly disappointed.
  • We have to protect what’s ours.

This is all scarcity thinking.

But the gospel's good news is that it turns this upside down. Jesus speaks to this directly and shows a different way – a way to the Kingdom of God. This section of scripture is titled “Warnings & Encouragements.” There’s something we need to avoid, and there’s something we get to move toward.

Luke 12
22 Then Jesus said to His disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

How many times has someone told you, “Don’t worry, things will be fine.” We all know how often that actually helps. The reason why is that worry is not an end unto itself. It’s a means. We end up doing it because there's something else at work in our hearts.

Worry is the inevitable outcome of a scarcity mindset. The root issue is not worry… it’s scarcity.    

Luke 12
24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you – you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

The pagans didn’t not believe in a God. They put their trust and hope in different gods, the wrong gods. It’s a pagan mindset to feel like we have to keep God happy or buy Him off by sacrificing and performing.

If I give this much or do this much good, then God will bless me. So being generous is important, but we shouldn't sacrifice to get something in return.

Luke 12
32 Do not be afraid, little flock,

Being afraid falls into the same category as worry. It doesn’t just go away because someone tells us we shouldn’t be. It’s a symptom of something deeper. So why shouldn’t we be afraid? For your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

  1. your Father – God, your heavenly Father, your Source
  2. has been pleased (“has chosen gladly”) – He’s already done it joyfully, it was His idea, and you didn’t have to wrench it from His hand or placate Him or buy Him off 
  3. to give you – You didn’t have to fight for it, and you didn’t earn it
  4. the Kingdom – Royal standing and power in God’s realm and way of being in the world

This is like one of those movies where a regular citizen discovers that they’re actually a prince or princess in some country, and they didn’t know about it. As a result, there’s a different way we can live – abundantly and freely.

Luke 12
33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

One of the ironies of scarcity thinking is that the more we get, the less secure we feel. This is why insecure people who end up in a relationship actually become more insecure and controlling and why, statistically, rich people are less generous than poor people.

So, we have to move in a counterintuitive way, in the opposite direction. These are starting points, not quick, easy steps that will take years to get comfortable with and a lifetime to work out.

  1. Practice a mindset of thankfulness
    a.    Scarcity tries to get us to focus on what we don’t have or might lose. Thankfulness keeps us focused on what we have and the blessings we have been given.  

  2. Practice giving blessings away to others
    a.    Celebrating the goodness of others, honoring others, and, yes, generosity.
    b.    Illustrate this personally.

Jesus is speaking to us: There’s enough. I’m enough.  

God – the real God, not the little gods that would vie for our attention – is more than enough. We don’t have to fight and scramble, pull ourselves up and push others down, compare, or constantly be looking, watching, striving, and scheming.

Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

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