Weekly Bible Devotional
“Financial Freedom: The Great Lie of Scarcity”
November 10, 2019
Scripture for Sunday: Isaiah 66:10-14
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.
Notes on the Text:
Our text for this week comes from the last chapter in the book of Isaiah. This was the period dating back to the time after the exile and return to Jerusalem between 538-520 BCE. This chapter has both words of judgment and words of hope. The people needed to return to the ways of God and to see the hope that was right in front of them.
While most of the people at the time were feeling hopeless, Isaiah could see the potential of a new birth for his people. This was a time of great pain and loss. The people of ancient Israel had already returned from exile in Babylon, but instead of reforming their ways, they went right back to business as usual, with greed and violence as the norms of their society while limiting God to worship in the temple. Even the rebuilding of the temple did not seem to go very well for them. It looked so shabby compared to its old days of glory. The immediate occasion for Isaiah 66 was an economic crisis that was caused by the unethical financial dealings of the wealthy in that society who used their influence to grab land and money from others. They manipulated the application of tax and financial laws to get an unfair advantage over others. For example, during times of bad weather and drought, they would make loans at extremely high interest rates. When the poor borrower could not pay the entire amount back in one year, the next year the unpaid portion would be rolled over into a second loan which would double their interest rate. After a couple of years of this kind of interest rate hikes, the poor farmer would be left bankrupt and become a slave to the landowner. All of this was not only highly unethical but also against the teachings of the Hebrew faith as found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy about not charging interest.
So the reality was tough and Isaiah could have just shrugged his shoulders and said, “that’s just the way things are,” or “It is just human nature and that we are doomed because given the opportunity, people will always choose greed over generosity.” But that is the lie which the prophet Isaiah sought to expose. Our sense of scarcity is not natural. It is programed into us. The essence of creation and of our human nature is actually quite the opposite. Creation shows God’s abundance and creativity. We feel joy when we give. In fact, most people say that they feel more joy when they give than when they receive. That is why the prophet calls the people back to their original goodness and promises them a new birth where the city which had become a symbol of exploitation would become a symbol of nurture and renewal. He invites his people to imagine and envision the city of Jerusalem as a nursing mother who feeds her all of her children so none would go hungry. The prophet sees the potential for such a vision of abundance despite the mistakes of the past.
The words of the prophet Isaiah give us a beautiful image of a city that lives not by the myth of scarcity but the vision of God’s abundance. Even though that vision has not been fulfilled in any of our cities in the world, we can’t give up on it. I am heartbroken over the reports about pollution and the air quality in New Delhi much of which is caused by greed. Yet, I know that if we practice God’s vision of sharing and caring in our daily lives and in our own communities on a small scale, it could have an impact on our world in general. That is what Jesus believed. He knew that if enough people were transformed by his vision for the world, the norm would become that of abundance and sharing. It is up to us. If we choose to invest our time and energy into practices that are grounded in abundance, we would live in the joy of God’s abundance right now. We don’t have to wait until the whole world changes before we get to enjoy the abundance of life. We can start right now by living each day knowing that we have enough and that we are enough. It all begins with seeing the myth of scarcity for what it is: The great lie!
Here is one of the ways you can let go of the myth of scarcity. Take an inventory of your resources this week and see how you share them. Let your new awareness of your resources become the dominant script of your relationship to money and to resources. Eric Law provides the following six categories of currencies we have. He calls them Holy Currencies.
- The Currency of Relationships: This is the network of respectful connections that we have in the church and in the community.
- The Currency of Gracious Leadership: The ability to use skills, tools, models and processes to create gracious environments (Grace Margin) within which mutually respectful relationships and the discernment of the truth across differences can be built internally, among existing members, and externally, with community members. Through Gracious Leadership we get tasks done in a way that is designed to build and strengthen relationships.
- The Currency of Wellness: This is about creating opportunities for us and for others to be restored and renewed both spiritually and in other ways. We develop this currency in order to help accomplish God’s desire for each of us to experience wholeness. Growing spiritually is a key contributor to personal and emotional wellness.
- The Currency of Truth: This is the ability to listen to one another, especially to those who are often silenced by society. Truth currency is in motion, taking us to places that aren’t always comfortable; hearing truths that may hurt, and not debating them, or getting defensive, waiting until it is appropriate to speak (if it is.) When we listen to all voices, especially of those who are powerless, we become rich in this currency.
- The Currency of Money: That is something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value or a means of payment. Money is the tool we use to enhance human transactions of exchange.
- The Currency of Time and Place: This refers to the spaces we have and can provide for others and the time we give to others. How can we be good stewards of the places to which we have access and of our time and gifts?
Some of us might have more resources in one category more than others, but all of us have so much abundance when we consider the full picture of our resources. And the truth is that the more we share them, the more they expand and multiply. May God give us the courage to practice each day the wisdom of letting go of the great lie of scarcity to believe in God’s truth of abundance and grace.
Prayer by Jackie Trottmann:
In this moment, I let go of all thoughts and concerns.
When I let go, I am able to receive.
When my hands are formed into tight fists, I cannot open my hands to receive anything.
When I hang onto tight control,
When I close off my heart and my spirit,
I cannot receive your blessings for me.
I let go to receive your blessings.
Letting go in this moment, I receive your loving presence around me and within me.
Help me to let go when I am feeling overwhelmed, so that I may receive your peace.
Help me to let go when I feel fear so that in fear’s place, I may receive love and courage.
I let go of problems and challenges in order to receive your guidance and clarity.
I let go and trust you.
I will not fall.
You will catch me.
I let go and trust in the still, small voice inside of me.
Help me not to struggle but to surrender my struggle to you.
I gladly receive this gift of letting go and letting you lead me and guide me.