For this post, I want to discuss something that I think we all struggle with in one way or another. There is no hard and fast rule for this to be sure, but if you are reading this I promise what I am about to say can apply to you in one way or another. I can say that because I was going about my daily routine thinking that I didn’t need to hear this. I felt like I had wisdom, but I was wrong. It’s so nice when God shows up with wisdom that actually changes your thinking, your feelings, and your actions. We just have to be humble enough to receive it. (He’ll help us there too!)
In order to put us on the same page I would like to first define economy. For our purposes, economy will mean “all of our resources, including financial, physical, mental, relational, emotional, and spiritual ones, along with how they should be viewed and approached.” The phrase “Economy of Heaven” will then mean “all of our resources along with how they should be viewed and approached from God’s perspective.” My desire is for us to improve how we approach every aspect of our life, not just our finances, by coming from God’s perspective.
A few weeks ago I had some conversations with Kayla about the tone of my voice. Quite often I sound serious or intense when I am passionate or just not thinking about the tone of my voice. Actually, I can’t even control it when I try! I often get annoyed by it and then would think about why that is such an issue for me. I also had a tendency to ask Kayla to calm down when she is really extraverted because I just couldn’t handle it. I had reasons for why I needed all these things and it all made sense. My goal in these conversations was a “meet-half-way” approach. I’ll try to change or deal with it and she will give me grace with my tone or calm down a little when I need her to.
I thought this was wisdom and quite often it may be, but sometimes when God’s wisdom comes you realize that you just sounded smart. I don’t want to sound smart. I want to have God’s actual wisdom.
The Disciple’s Wisdom
At church a few weeks ago during the offering a woman shared about what she called the economy of heaven. I know I’ve heard the phrase before but it felt pretty empty to me. She jumped to the story in Matthew 14 of Jesus multiplying the bread and fish. I’ve since gone back and looked at it after feeling tugged to by the Holy Spirit.
Now, for some context, the disciples felt like they knew what was going on. To be a disciple of anyone back in that time meant a lot. You were on your way up! Thankfully Jesus came to teach them and us the wisdom of heaven.
Here’s the situation. Jesus encountered a large crowd of hurting people. Many of them needed healing and so Jesus chose to stick around the crowd all day. The disciples were there and had a pretty wise idea: there are thousands of people (probably closer to ten thousand than five thousand since women and children weren’t counted) and these people need to eat, so they should send the people away to get food from the nearby villages. Pretty smart of them to think of all the people they were ministering to.
After they share their recommendation, a dialogue ensues. Here is how it went.
Jesus replied, “They do no need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. Matthew 14:16-18
So here’s where it gets interesting. Jesus isn’t stupid. When Jesus told them to give them something to eat, He didn’t have to ask and see if they had enough. He knew that they didn’t come with much! In the Mark version of this story give us another way of looking at it. Jesus asks “How many loaves do you have?” The apostles heard, “Do you have enough bread?” Jesus was asking “How much was given to you for this?” Jesus, following the heart and prompting of His Father, took what they had and used it to feed thousands of people. They had enough. They only thought they didn’t. That’s why they used the word “only.” Scarcity existed in their mind but not in reality.
A Mindset of Scarcity
The only people in this story who didn’t think they had enough were the disciples. They had what I call a mindset of scarcity. They were thinking about “how much?” when the command was given by Jesus to feed the crowds rather than “what have we been provided?” to use for the task.
This is the same thing that I was experiencing. I didn’t feel a grace to change my tone, intensity, ability to be silly, or anything because of various reasons. What I had to realize is that I was the only one who didn’t have enough. God and Kayla both thought I had enough. My mindset kept me from embracing the grace to change.
Here is the summary of the matter: if Jesus gives direction and you don’t feel like you have the resources to accomplish what was asked of you (or even the strength to take one step in that direction) you are wrong.
Here is a quick testimony for you. It wasn’t until the fall semester of my senior year in college that I decided to be a high school teacher. I looked at the requirements for enrollment with an alternative certification program at the university and I didn’t think I could meet the curriculum requirements for the certification I wanted, Math & Physics 8-12. I didn’t apply and decided to look for other options. At my church’s annual missions conference I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to apply for that program anyway and see what happened.
As I looked over the curriculum requirements I was again confident that I didn’t meet it. I decided to apply for a Composite Science 8-12 certification since I had biology, physics, and chemistry classes on my transcript. A few days later I got an email back from a rather confused advisor. It turns out that I accidentally clicked the button for “English 8-12 Certification.” (If you know me you should find that quite hilarious.) She followed that up by telling me the only certification that I qualify for is the Math & Physics 8-12 Certification! It turns out, the only person who didn’t think I had enough was me!
When God gives His children directions, He does so confident that we have all that we need. Often we are the only ones who think we don’t.
If God gives direction and we feel like we lack the resources to follow Him, we are wrong.
And quite honestly, none of this is new.
Genesis speaks to this issue with the first sin. The serpent’s deception of Eve was completely centered around making her think she lacked something she had all along. The serpent said that when she eats from the tree she “will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5) It is also recorded that Eve thought she lacked wisdom when she “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for…gaining wisdom.” (Genesis 3:6) In reality, she was already carrying the image of God and had unhindered access to God, who is wisdom. It is clear that we have been dealing with this mindset of scarcity for a long time and it is directly connected in our faith in God to show up and provide.
Here are some highlights for you to look at on your own of this theme throughout the Bible: Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), Hagar & Ishmael (Genesis 16), Jacob (Genesis 27, 29, 32), Moses (Exodus 4), Entering the Promised Land (Numbers 13 & 14), People of Israel (1 Samuel 8), David & Goliath (1 Samuel 17), Esther (Esther 4), and the list goes on and on!
Jesus came to us, as a human, to give us God’s perspective that we can practically apply to our lives. Jesus didn’t see the five loaves and two fish as too little. He saw it as the provision that God gave Him so it had to be enough. And by a miracle, it was!
This godly pattern of faith has also been seen throughout the Bible. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, the son through which God’s promise of nations would come, Abraham had to logically reason between God’s command and what God provided. Here is how the author of Hebrews explains Abraham’s mindset when it seemed like the command and the provision didn’t overlap right.
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17-19
Abraham chose to cling to God’s promise and God’s command to the point that a miracle must be God’s provision. Sometimes the miracle comes in the form of the supernatural, and other times the miracle comes in the form of unseen provision with its horns caught in the bushes right where you need it. The trick between the mindset of scarcity and the mindset in line with the economy of heaven isn’t what you think about, but it’s the order that you think about it.
Eve thought about and committed to what she needed, then chose what to do.
Abraham thought about and committed to what God told Him to do, then He looked at how His resources lined up with it. And He didn’t change His commitment even when His resources didn’t fit the task!
Our task, therefore, is first to be led by God. Is He leading you in a particular direction? Your resources shouldn’t come in the way of your obedience. If God tells you to do something, your resources should not decide if it is the word of God or not. That is what the Bible, wise counsel, and community is for.
For example, the early church had many poor members, including the homeless and widows. Jesus said “Love each other.” So how did the church respond? They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need to the point that some of them were now in need. And this is what the apostles continued to teach. (See 2 Corinthians 8:14) They made their resources work in order to help them obey God.
Sometimes Often obeying God provision looks like foolishness until you see the miracle. Other times He provides through what He has already given you.
For me, money isn’t the issue here and I think that’s important to point out. I have never been in lack and have even been stretching myself in being able to give away more financially than I feel like I should. My need has been different, typically emotional. I haven’t felt like I have had the emotional strength to speak differently, or change my attitude. God certainly wants me to control it (see Matthew 15:11), so apparently I do have everything I need. My little excuses for why I couldn’t fix my tone were sin patterns where I wasn’t believing God’s provision in the resources that He gave me. Simply repenting and changing my mindset to align with what God is saying has made it so much easier for me to obey Him. And it will work the same for you!
So what is it for you? Here’s what you can do to grow in a mindset that lines up with the Economy of Heaven.
First, ask God what you need to obey. Where or into what is He leading you? Write it down. Think about it in every realm or just start with one! (I consider the realms to be Physically & Financially, Emotionally, Mentally, Spiritually, and Relationally)
Then, think about your resources. Are you responding to God fully? Do you feel like you have enough to respond and obey God? If not, God gives grace! Ask Him to show you where your mindset is off and where the resources are. If you still feel like you don’t have enough, then obey anyway. The resources are there. You just don’t see them yet. Have faith and do it with Jesus.
I could give testimony after testimony of how people obey God when they feel in lack and God provides through means they never expected. This perspective is key to following God rather than stumbling into a prosperity gospel. God always has provision for you as long as it lines up to His direction and purpose.
I also recognize that provision, God’s leading, and having the correct mindset is multi-faceted so I do not expect this to answer all of your questions. My goal with this was to raise your awareness for the non-financial places where we need to get rid of our mindset of scarcity. Feel free to comment or Contact Me if you’d like to talk more.
We must reflect on what God says first, and then respond knowing that He will cause our resources to meet the need.