May 21, 2013

Blessed* with Enough

In our current message series title Blessed* we have been looking at what the Bible means when it says that God wants to bless us, and we have also looked at some things that get in the way of our ability to fully receive God’s blessing.

This series was birthed out of a desire to understand what we mean by blessing. We throw that word around a lot. We get a raise, we get a new car, something rather fortunate happens to us, and we say, “I was blessed with...”

The problem arises when we look around the world at so many other people who are whole-heartedly seeking after God, and they have none of the comforts we would call blessings in the United States. Yet Christians everywhere would talk about being blessed by God. We must be careful in how we define and use the word “blessed.” We can make it seem like millions of people who suffer from war, famine, poverty, and sickness are not as loved or blessed by God simply because they were not born in America.

So I started digging, and I have come to the conclusion that it is not so much God’s goodness or blessing that is in question, but how we measure it that is causing all the problems. His blessing is so much deeper than our material possessions, though those are included.

The problem comes when enough is not enough...

Relevant Online recently ran an article titled, “The Socially Acceptable Sin.” It names gluttony as the church’s and America’s most acceptable sin. The author writes, “There’s one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought, and that is the constant hunt for more over what is enough. Or, in an uglier terminology, what is known as gluttony. And gluttony has never been merely an addiction to food. If we look its original definition and context, gluttony hits closer to home than we’d like to admit...At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess. It occurs when taste overrules hunger, when want outweighs need.”

Have you seen the AT&T Commercial where the guy interviews the children, and the one girl says, "I want more! I want more! I want more!" That commercial says it all...doesn’t it. It describes what could be the most overlooked sin of our culture and one of the biggest blocks to our ability to receive God’s blessing...the sin of never enough.

We want more...we want more...we want more...Every television, newspaper, and billboard ad is designed to encourage a desire for more than we have and more than we need. And we have obliged...

We live in a very wealthy country. Even our poor, globally, are better off. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the poverty line for an individual in United States was $10,830 in 2010, but our poverty line places them in the top 14% of income earners globally.

And no matter how little or how much we make we see a desire to get and consume more...

The U.S. represents 4.5% of global population and consumes 30% of the total GDP. 

U.S. household consumer debt profile:
Average credit card debt: $15,204

One of the major contributors to the housing bust was when people who were not making as much as they should have been were given credit for home that cost way more than they could or should afford.

I am not a subscriber that all debt is bad...most of us would be uneducated, walking and homeless if we didn’t have some debt. Many business owners couldn’t operate if they didn’t carry some debt...but I think we would all agree that too often we have taken on debt and trouble in our lives because of our desire to get and have more. We wanted more than was necessary or adequate...and it got us into trouble...or is getting us in trouble.

But over and over again, the Bible reminds us...

Our desire for more causes us to miss the blessings of God.

So often we miss out on God’s blessings because we suffer from the sin of never enough when God is in the business of blessing us with enough.

As I studied for this message, I was struck by how often the Bible talks about God’s ability and desire to satisfy or to make us full. The problem often comes when what God provides does not satisfy because we are not content with enough...

Ecclesiastes 5:10, discussing money, says, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”

You see that desire for more than what is necessary causes dissatisfaction with what God provides. When John D. Rockefeller was asked “how much would be enough?” he answered “just a little bit more.” At that time he personally controlled 2% of the wealth of America.

That author of Proverbs 27:20 says it like this, “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.”

Have you ever been window shopping? Maybe you were watching one of those Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous type of shows?

I have a bad habit of window shopping, and there are times when my desire for more creates such a dissatisfaction with what I have that I cannot enjoy the blessings God has already given me. What the desire for more creeps in it doesn’t matter how much good stuff is going on in our just isn’t enough.

That is what greed, lust, and gluttony do...they plant dissatisfaction in our lives, and what we already have is not enough. That car isn’t good enough...we need the new one. Our house isn’t good enough...we need that house. Our job isn’t good enough...we need another one. And more than likely...they were good enough...until we saw the better one...and the desire for more crept in and took root.

Another thing that happens is...

Our desire for more keeps us from being a blessing to others.

We are going to spend more time on this idea next week from a different angle, but listen to James 4:1-3,

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

“You do not have receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures...”

Every time the Bible talks about God giving us more than we immediately connects it with God’s call for us to live open-handedly toward others. When God gives us more than we need it is meant as an opportunity to extend that blessing to others...and receive more blessing in the process.

God’s blessing is so deeply connected to our willingness to bless others, and when we allow our desire to have and consume and keep more than what satisfies and what is necessary we cannot fully enjoying the blessings of God. It causes us to hold on to what we have and not let it go, and we miss out on the extended blessing of giving.

But, you might say, I know a lot of stingy people who have plenty of money and want for nothing in this world...and seem to have a lot of blessings from God. You are right. They have a lot in the way of finances, but remember God’s blessing is more than just the number of dollars in our bank account.

God’s blessing is first found in a deep satisfaction with He has provided...with what is enough. And secondly, it is found in the blessing of giving generously from how God has blessed us.

When we learn to live within the bounds of enough, the Bible says that so many things are taken care of...

God’s ultimate goal is to satisfy.
The Bible often uses the word Saba to mean to satisfy or to fill up, and the Bible is full of examples of God’s desire to fill us satisfy our deepest longings.

For many in the Bible it included food and shelter because they needed their basic needs met, but it meant so much more...

Isaiah 55:2 is a good example of this, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”

Isaiah is talking about more than just food. He is talking about God’s desire to meet our deepest needs...those things that cause our hearts to ache and cause us to stay awake worrying at night. His desire is to satisfy.

John 10:10 says this, “The Thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life to the full!”

Psalm 145:16, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

Psalm 107:9, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

These are the promises of God...that He will give us what we need. He will satisfy and fill us. God is in the business of giving us enough, and when the sin of gluttony, lust, and greed creep in...we lose the blessings of God because we begin thinking that enough is not enough.

To close, I want to give you a few starter steps for learning to live with enough...

Look at what you have not what you don’t have. Make the most of it. Learn to be content with what you own.

Don’t make comparisons. The minute you compare yourself to someone else or what someone else has...that is the minute greed and lust and gluttony all slip in. You find yourself comparing your worst to their best and feel insecure. You feel as though you are not enough.
Accept your imperfections. No one is perfect. No one has it all together. Accept them and work on them.

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