For the next several weeks we as a church will discuss and reflect upon the abundance that God has blessed us with. Christians are different from many others who grab and hoard all they can. Christians understand the concept of extravagant generosity. There is a certain graciousness in being able to give with glad and generous hearts. The New Testament speaks of people like us who follow a God who is absolutely and fundamentally a God who gives us everything. Our task is to merely return a portion of that—we call 10 % a tithe. The tithe is the biblical standard of giving. As Paul himself writes: “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11-12).
Abundance is having enough—even more than enough to get by and to thrive. We all live in a land of plenty. In fact, a majority of the world’s people envy people like us who live with the plenty we live with. These people who do not live with plenty are regularly the victims of unjust economic systems, war, famine caused by drought, and disease. The ironic thing about 21st century America, however, is that we live as if we dwell in a circumstance of scarcity.
I thought about this when I heard a story about one of the personalities on the local ESPN radio station described a scene in which team officials passed out the “per diems” for meals and incidental expenses to multi-million dollar athletes at the door of their bus. The radio commentator described the scene of these athletes gathering their “lunch money” as appearing like “a bunch of waifs and strays opening presents on Christmas morning at an orphanage.” Even people who have few worries about material security live as if they lived in a world of scarceness. The lesson for us concerns abundance as one of God’s many promises.
Those who understand how to share are those who understand that the fundamental attribute of a Christian is to share with others and share with glad and generous hearts. We call this gratitude!