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Is God stingy? A sweep through the Old Testament

Stingy…or supremely generous

When we filter God through the view of our own temperament, experiences or frustrations, we can easily act like a three-year old. I want my way! More ice cream, Mommy! And we quickly dismiss the possibility that loves often says no. We just think God’s being stingy with us.

How can I accept that God’s given me is already the right amount for this moment? That what he’s giving me is the most generous, because it’s just what I need?

I often switch roles with God. I look at him through three-year-old eyes. Eyes that can’t see the bigger picture. To counter this tendency, I often read through Scripture in big sweeps. It helps me to step back and get a “parent’s” view—the one a three-year old can’t perceive.

God, thanks for giving me not what I want, but what I need right now.

God’s overflow to us

Here’s a sweep through the Old Testament passages that the NLT translates with the concept of overflow. They help me to regain a long-view perspective. They let God define himself instead of me re-interpreting him through my biased filters.

Inside the [brackets] are my rough out-loud thoughts to help prompt our havering and wrestling together…

  1. Psalm 23:5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. [note: enemies are active and present and the Psalmist still views God as blessing him…]

Psalm 65:11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. [Easy, hard, difficult, places exist and God still transforms them, but he doesn’t remove the “hard pathways.”]

Psalm 130:7 O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. [Hope meets God’s unfailing love. The need for redemption remains and his redemption comes through his sharing with us his love in a time where hope and redemption meet in me… Got it.]

Proverbs 3:9-10 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. [It’s all his. And it’s all within his eb and flow of ups and downs. I find it funny that it says to honor the Lord with my wealth… when I know that it’s his, not mine; he’s having me check my attitude and grasp on what I claim rights to that’s not actually mine.]

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words. [I guess the advice goes two ways… be slow to speak because it quickly shows what’s inside of me…]

Jeremiah 13:17 And if you still refuse to listen, I will weep alone because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile. [I love the turning, twisting of the alone and together in this passage. I weep alone, but the shower of tears are for God and his children. I love that it is emotion linked with truth that are causing the tears.]

Hosea 11:8 “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart tears and my compassion overflows. [Ok, when was the last time compassion overflowed me? God, please tear my heart so compassion is visible in my choices and actions.]

  1. Joel 2:24 [Full Chapter] The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. [How often do I claim the fruit and curse the times of shortage. Why do I take credit for one and not the other?]

Joel 3:13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the winepress is full. The storage vats are overflowing with the wickedness of these people.” [Ouch. We can have plenty of fruit and not be drawn to God, rather it simply fuels more rebellion, wickedness and selfishness. God please give me what I need in a way that causes me to see you as provider, companion and redeemer.]

Zechariah 1:17 “Say this also: ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The towns of Israel will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem as his own.’” [Seasons of much come and go, but the real purpose of life together remains. Why do we see God in a good light in one season and not another? Oh, no…the three-year old in me is finding his way to the floor in a fresh tantrum…]

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