What does it mean to live in abundance? Does it mean to live in prosperity when God blesses our pocketbook? Maybe… No doubt money or wealth can be used for good but is that really what the Apostle Paul is addressing in 2 Cor. 9:6-9? Verse 8 states; “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, SO THAT by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”
Thinking about abundance only in terms of dollars and cents limits the power of God and the expectation we have to share that abundance with others. God has provided each of us with gifts, such as teaching, speaking, writing, coaching, mentoring, administrating, organizing etc. The list is endless. There are also people who have the gift to increase their bottom line, and they use their wealth as part of their ministry of giving. They are living into their gift of prosperity by providing generous financial support to the less fortunate.
If we do not recognize our God-given gifts do we then work from a place of scarcity? How many times have we focused on our circumstances rather than the power of what Christ can accomplish in our lives? How many times do we deflect opportunities of change and growth with the phrase, “yes, but?” How easy it is for us to say we can’t accomplish what needs to be done because this or that roadblock is in the way. I will admit that there have been many times when I have said, “yes, but” especially when trying to figure out my “call” into ministry. Generally the conversation begins like this; “Listen God; how can you possibly use me in ministry? I want to say yes, but I don’t have the gift to preach or the leadership required to lead a church.” When feeling pushed, I can use the “yes, but” phrase in many ways as an excuse not to live into the belief that “God doesn’t call the qualified, God qualifies the call.”
Identifying my gifts has been a challenge and it has not been as easy as it sounds. Sometimes, as Parker Palmer states, “Our strongest gifts are usually those we are barely aware of possessing. They are a part of our God-given nature, with us from the moment we drew first breath, and we are no more conscious of having them than we are of breathing.” In recent years, I have spent time in prayer and discernment trying to identify what sort of gifts God has given me for ministry. For everyday life, I now recognize that organization, collaboration and administration tasks come fairly easy to me. Some of my best gifts like mentoring, teaching and hospitality come so naturally that I don’t think of them as gifts, therefore I take them for granted and tend not to include them in my discerning process. My challenge has always been how do I take what I have learned about my gifts and combine them with my life experiences in order to touch people’s lives.
How do you identify and use your gifts, as Paul writes “for every good work?” Have you identified your gifts and use them in your everyday life? Living into your gifts honors God SO THAT you can share this abundance in all areas of your life, with family, friends, neighbors, and community. As I continue to identify God’s gifts, my focus will to be on using my natural gifts, SO THAT I am working and living in abundance “for every good work.”