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Living In Gracious Abundance

I'd always rationalized that I lived a life of abundance. I am blessed. I have all that I need and more.

Look in my closet.

Look in my pantry.

Look in my donation pile, for crying out loud.

I have a lot of things. I don't really know what it means to go without. I mean sure, I've wanted things that we couldn't afford. We rarely eat out, even at fast food joints, because it isn't in our budget, and I often shop and thrift and consignment boutiques for much of my clothing.

But still, I live with abundance. A lot of abundance.

Living In Gracious Abundance

Please understand me here; I'm not referring to living a life of extravagance. Extravagance and abundance are not the same thing. Extravagance refers to "excessive or unnecessary expenditure", or "unrestrained excess." We don't live an extravagant, excessive, or unrestrained lifestyle. Abundance, however, refers to an "overflowing fullness" and, I definitely live in overflowing fullness. According to this definition, I assumed that I must live with abundance.

And then I saw this quote from Bill Johnson.

"Abundance is measured by what you've given away, not by what you have."

When I first read this, my initial reaction was, "AMEN! I should totally write a blog post about this!"

So, I started writing.

Dumb idea.

I started writing about living in abundance, and about the joy that comes with giving abundantly, but can I be honest with you guys? It was so completely self absorbed. I didn't even see it at first. I was plunking out letters and words like a blogging boss. One after another they poured from my brain, down through my fingers and out onto the keyboard. But as I continued to type, a shift started to take place. I began to feel a niggling sense of disconnect. The words I was writing from my brain didn't coincide with a thought that was growing in my heart.

Abundance is measured by what you've given away....

"What have I given away that would truthfully qualify me as living a life of abundance?"

And it made me feel uncomfortable. Actually, it made me feel a little sick to my stomach, because I truly couldn't think of much. I started racking my brain, searching back over the past days, weeks, months and years, trying to figure out what exactly, I've given away. I couldn't come up with anything of real value. I can't tell you how sad that made me. So, I thought harder.

"There must be something", I reasoned.

And then I remembered.

"I gave Kyle a duffel bag with clothes, toiletries, and food."

And suddenly, a flood of understanding washed over me.

You see, when I first read Bill Johnson's quote, my thoughts initially went to material possessions. I was associating abundance with physical wealth and/or items of monetary value. In that original mindset, the duffel bag was the first thing I remembered. But, with the memory of Kyle, came a flood of enlightenment.

You see, Kyle was a homeless, 21 year old meth addict I met a year and a half ago. We developed a brief relationship and at one point, I gave him a duffel bag filled with items he desperately needed. But what I really gave him, was not something that can be measured in terms of monetary value. What I really gave him was worth so much more. Click here for Kyle's story.

"Abundance is measured by what you've given away, not by what you have."

I get it now; what Bill Johnson meant by those words. It isn't about giving away stuff from our homes that we no longer want or need. If that were the case, with the amount of stuff I've donated to our local, charity run thrift stores, I should be considered filthy rich. (In truth, according to global standards, I am filthy rich. You probably are, too.) But, I believe true, perfect abundance is measured by what you have purposefully given away, to enrich someone else's life. Living in that kind of gracious abundance, is priceless.

Do what you can with what you have where you are.

Often times, it does mean giving away physical possessions. If you know of someone who needs a winter jacket and you have an extra in your closet that you don't wear, that would be a gift that would undoubtedly enrich a person's life. And I believe that would be considered giving out of abundance. If you ever have the opportunity to bless someone this way, please do.

But please know; there are other ways to give abundantly.

Give your friendship.

Look around you. Who do you see that could use a friend? A lonely widow? A young mom? A newly married couple that could use a little extra love? All around us, people are starving for relationship. If you are looking for a way to practice living in gracious abundance, friendship is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone.

Give your time.

You could donate a few hours to a local soup kitchen or to a non-profit fundraiser. Working with local charities is a very practical way to give of your time. But don't hesitate to invest your time in people who live around you as well. Perhaps you know of a new mom who would benefit from a home cooked meal, or of an ill friend who would greatly appreciate the gift of a clean house. Giving the gift of your time can be truly invaluable to the recipient.

Give your wisdom.

Do you have a specific skill, or knowledge of a certain subject that could prove invaluable to an individual or to a group? Consider blessing others with the gift of your wisdom.

Give your forgiveness.

I believe in the power of forgiveness. For the recipient, but also, for the one who gives it. Often times, forgiveness is hard to give, especially when the hurts cut deeply. It truly is out of the abundance of the heart, that we bestow forgiveness.

Give your love.

This really is the greatest gift you can lavish on someone. Giving love though, can be costly. You may invest in loving someone who may never return, accept, or even acknowledge it. It can break your heart. But it really is, the most significant way possible to give out of abundance. And in the end, it is never wasted.

"Abundance is measured by what you've given away, not by what you have."

When I first started to think of ways I'd practiced giving out of abundance, I struggled to come up with physical items that I felt were worthy. But once I understood that giving out of abundance included so much more than just material possessions, I realized that I have indeed, at least on some level, been practicing living abundantly.

But, I also realized something else. The overflowing fullness out of which I live, comes from Love Himself, and His abundant supply is infinite.

I can live more abundantly.

I can give, more abundantly.

Abundance is measured by what you've given away....

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