James Bryan Smith: Abundance and Compassion

Home » Meditations » Meditations » James Bryan Smith: Abundance and Compassion

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! Isaiah 30:18

“Generosity happens when a person is living from a condition of abundance or when a person is moved by the needs of others. If I have three hundred tomatoes, it is easy for me to give dozens away. I have more than I need. I am giving out of my surplus… But I can also be generous even when I have a little. I may have only one tomato, but if I see a poor woman who has none, I may very well be moved to give my last tomato to her. Generosity then flows either from a sense of abundance or a feeling of compassion. God is moved by both. God is generous because He lives in a condition of abundance — His provisions can never be exhausted — and God is moved with compassion because He sees our need.

Love and forgiveness, acceptance and kindness, are not commodities that diminish in their giving. When we offer forgiveness we do not have less of it, nor do we diminish in our capacity to forgive each time we forgive. So why do we so seldom live generously. We live from a condition of scarcity. We never got enough love from our parents, enough toys on our birthday and enough affirmation from those who know us. Our checking account is limited, and often our money is spent before we earn it. Living from a condition of scarcity, we learn that we must protect what we have. If we give it away, we might end up in dire straits… Our God, however, is constantly generous. Everything we have is a gift…the unearned provision of a lavish and loving God. We do not deserve anything we have been given. We have earned nothing. Yet God continues to give.”

James Bryan Smith in The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009) 84-85. Tomorrow I will start a meditations series called “Advent in Alexandria” as I will spend half of Advent serving in Egypt.

On the eve of Advent, in order to prepare ourselves, let’s resolve together to shed any elements of scarcity thinking in our minds. Instead, let us determine to be people who wait on God and trust in His abundant provision and are ready to extend compassion.

To renew our minds, let’s revel in His matchless love. We do this so our hearts are full of gratitude and compassion and so we have eyes to see and hands to serve with justice and righteousness. Cleanse our minds and hearts while we wait for you, Jesus.