As Christians we know that we have an abundant life--because Jesus said he came to give us one. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b NIV) But sadly, that is sometimes the only way we know it.
Our problem is that to recognize the abundant life that we have in Christ, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:2) While we look at things in the same old way, we miss the rich gifts that God has given us in Christ.
So, if we put the missing elements into the teaching of "abundance mentality" we come out with some teachings that are real and meaty, instead of the "encouraging" personal development teachings that lack REAL power to transform our lives.
For an example, let's look at the teaching about abundance mentality from http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Abundance-Mentality. The opening paragraph goes as follows:
"Much of society seems to be built on a scarcity mentality. It's a mentality that tells people that there is a lack in life, that opportunities are few and far between. This is, of course, useful for society because if people feel that there is a lack, then you can get them to buy stuff. And so the economy and society can continue to live and prosper by reinforcing a scarcity mentality in people."
So the mentality of abundance, or the perception of the abundant life (what we are really talking about) has an opposite--the mentality of scarcity, or the perception that our life is lacking, meager, shabby, and sad. Jesus tells us about this too, in the first part of John 10:10 (The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy) Jesus, however, comes that we may have life to the full--abundantly in the King James version. So one source of our perception of the shabby life is the thief. There are a lot of thieves in this world, but the ultimate thief is our enemy himself, the devil.
But he's not our only enemy. Even WikiHow recognizes that our other big adversary, the world, is in on this scam: "This is, of course, useful for society .... the economy and society can continue to live and prosper by reinforcing a scarcity mentality in people."
So.... looks like we need to stop conforming to society. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, says the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2 (again).
So let's look at the WikiHow suggestions for perceiving the abundance of your life, beef them up and transform them with the light of Scripture, which reveals a true abundance beyond our best thoughts and wildest dreams:
Look for symptoms of a scarcity mentality. This usually shows by an exaggerated sense of your own importance. I have to succeed, if I fail, the consequences are--GRAVE.
Too often, we think like this--in my life I know that I get feeling this way about sharing the gospel, home schooling, cleaning house, teaching a bible study--even blogging! To feel this way puts all the focus on us and our efforts--and off of God.
- "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God". (Heb. 12:2) Not just a command to put our focus on Jesus, this verse gives us Jesus's example-- how he focused on the joy before him, not on the cross, and the result was triumph.
- Remember that God is compassionate--he knows that you are dust (Ps. 103:13), so he is not expecting perfection, and if you are perfect now and then, it's not you, but him--girding you with strength, making your way perfect. (Ps. 18:32).
Focus on the abundance, not on the lack. WikiHow says, "What you focus on, you will see in your world." Since you can’t take in everything around you, your reticular activation system – your focus system in the mind – will bring into focus what you focus your thoughts on.
And the scriptures say: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things". (Phil. 4:8).
And so thinking on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy will open our eyes to a world full of things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
While we have our mind set to focus on what we don't have, we are like someone sitting in a beautiful room with a beautiful view, with a Christmas tree in the corner piled with gifts, doggedly staring at a sad black and white movie and crying. Turn off the tv and open the gifts!
Appreciate. Give thanks! ....give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Th. 5:18) Some ideas: give thanks for God's forgiveness, for his great sacrifice for our sins, what he has done for you in the past year, what he WILL do for you in the coming year, for the natural beauty of our world, for your church, for the individual people who have come to it this year, and for those who have loved you, taught you, reached out to you, discipled, or rebuked you, the pastor and leaders, Sunday School and other ministries, your family, your friends, your health, your trials, those in authority over you, your material blessings, etc. The sky isn't even the limit for someone who has been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm! Make a list of your blessings and thank God for them.
Get an abundance vibe from other people. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Prov. 27:17) Look for friends who lift you up, not who bring you down. Find what makes you wrongfully discontented with life, and what doesn't. DON'T hang out with people that make you feel jealous or discontented. DO hang out with those that infect you with optimism and gratitude.
And importantly "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." (Rom. 12:15-16). Be happy for others' successes.
Share the wealth. One very good way to acknowledge how much you have is to share it. Do you feel like you're not making enough money? Give some away. Not enough love? Give some away. Not enough validation, appreciation, recognition? Give it all away. It's hard for something to feel scarce when you're giving it away. Did you really need WikiHow to tell you that?
How about, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Cor. 9:7-8)? Giving it away ensures that you will have all you need--or that you will notice that you already do.
"Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.. . . you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. . . . And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:14-19)
Create win-win situations. Don't think that it's you against "them." Especially in the church! If we are one body, this is the only option. Win-lose is like one hand cutting off the other! So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Cor. 12:25-26) Look for the good of the whole body, in the church, in your family, even in your work. As part of the body, it will benefit you!
Remind yourself. Monitor your thoughts to see if they pass the Philippians 4:8 test.
Post verses where you can see them. Meditate on them. Teach them to your kids. Talk about it. Witness. Go to Bible Study. Be as diligent in this as big-bucks companies are in getting their marketing before your eyes! "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deut 6:6-7)
Finally, if you are starting to slip, remember the words of the Apostle Paul--who enjoyed a life of abundance even in prison--"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:11-13). It is Christ who gives us strength and a life of abundance. He is the secret.
Remember, this is not taking a worldly teaching and putting Christian clothes on it, this is reclaiming or retaking a Biblical truth that the World took from the word (stripping it of any of its true power) and putting it back in a Biblical context.
So transform your mind--have a real mentality of abundance and enjoy the abundant life that Christ has given you!