Scarcity mentality

Written by Charles Ekong


I recently saw a video on social media of a little girl, probably seven or eight years old, having a meltdown at the thought of growing up. It was hilariously poignant as she listed her reasons. However, the comments on the clip suggested that many were also finding adulthood tough. Several were frustrated at the state of the world and the lack of time or money to do the things they enjoy. The current news cycles of war and austerity have increased anxiety and uncertainty for many. So, unsurprisingly, people are worried about their bills, pensions, investments, savings, debts and so on. Unless we adopt an alternative worldview, facing these realities will shape our perceptions and invariably attune us to a scarcity mentality. While that mindset might make sense to the world in the current climate, it’s at odds with the message of Jesus. So, where does that leave believers?

It’s a spiritual fact that followers of Jesus have received from His fullness [John 1:16]. We also know from other passages that what we’ve received includes all we need to live a godly life [2 Peter 1:3]. These verses also affirm another truth that the believer’s sufficiency is from God, not the world [2 Corinthians 3:5], which makes sense because, in Christ, we’re members of God’s household [Ephesians 2:19], co-heirs with Jesus [Romans 8:17], with legitimate access to His wealth [2 Corinthians 8:9]. These truths and many others are promises ratified as part of the new covenant between God and those who believe in His Son, irrevocably sealed with the blood of Jesus and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:3-14, 2 Corinthians 1:20]. They are true irrespective of world events, whether or not we believe and engage them [Psalm 119:89, Romans 3:4]. 

The temptation for us is to read these truths in Scripture, mentally assent to them because they’re in the Bible, and yet fail to accept and apply them with faith in the face of anything contrary. As early as Genesis, God demonstrated His sovereignty over the conditions on earth when He caused Isaac to reap a hundred-fold harvest during a famine within twelve months [Genesis 26:12]. That same God has made even greater promises to us, and if, like Isaac, we take Him at His word, the same testimony awaits us. But sometimes, the prevailing circumstance can cause us to respond to God’s word with unbelief, like the king’s servant in Elisha’s day. In that particular story, the northern kingdom of Israel was under siege by the king of Syria. The austerity was so great that even mothers did the unthinkable [2 Kings 6:24-30]. However, when Elisha declared that the land would experience a spectacular change of fortune within a day, the king’s servant essentially said it could never happen [2 Kings 7:2]. It did happen, but he didn’t live to see it because his unbelief cost him his life [2 Kings 7:16-20].

The obvious lesson from that story is that God will always keep His word irrespective of our circumstances, and sadly, we can miss out on our testimonies because of unbelief, especially if we allow our worldview to be shaped by what we see and hear. As such, we must actively oppose any paradigms that cause us to operate from a place of lack when God has promised to meet all our needs according to His glorious riches [Philippians 4:19]. As co-heirs with Christ, we can access everything that belongs to our Father [Galatians 4:7, Ephesians 1:3]. A scarcity mentality cannot exist in a mind that knows, believes and acts upon these truths. How can you be in lack if you have access to God’s resources [Luke 22:35]? People who understand this principle give cheerfully [2 Corinthians 9:7,10] and live in the reality of Jesus’s teaching on anxiety [Matthew 6:25-34].

That’s an otherworldly mindset which grants us access to heaven’s wealth like the widow of Zarephath [1 Kings 17:10-16]. Nevertheless, I know what it’s like to live with the anxiety or resignation that you don’t have enough. There have been occasions when I’ve looked at my wallet and thought: “…but I barely have enough for me, I can’t give…”. I understand the temptation to avoid guests, so you don’t have to share the little you have because I’ve made similar decisions. Sometimes, the fear of running out causes us to deny even our children things they desperately need or put them at risk. That cannot be God’s will. I’m not advocating a lack of wisdom or carelessness with our resources. However, some of our decisions betray that we don’t believe that God can meet our needs, and that’s a consequence of allowing a scarcity mentality a foothold in our lives.

A scarcity mentality will always rob believers because it makes us tight-fisted and hinders our ability to receive. Our world often paints a picture of lack and advocates greed and self-interest. So, adopting an austerity worldview is easy if you depend on what you see and hear alone. If you believe and then act on the premise that you don’t have enough, then you’ll never have enough because Jesus said we’ll have whatsoever we say [Isaiah 57:19, Mark 11:23]. So, if you’re consistently experiencing lack, it’s worth re-evaluating your mindset, confessions and actions. 

Ridding ourselves of a scarcity mentality isn’t a passive process. We must actively renew our minds and sharpen our discernment to walk in God’s will because that’s how we receive from Him [Psalm 23:1-3, Colossians 1:9-10, Romans 12:2]. When our minds are sufficiently transformed [Philippians 2:5], our bank balance will be irrelevant. Imagine the relief! Imagine being unperturbed by inflation, famine, wars, austerity measures, etc. That’s a possibility for every believer who takes God at His word, and it’s a dimension of living I intend to experience before my days are over.

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