By, Isam Itson III
Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
I remember going to dinner during an overnight primary school trip when I was nine years old. Sixty fourth and fifth graders descending on a national chain restaurant like a swarm of locusts. A bunch of loud, hungry, children who had been out all afternoon doing I don’t remember what. But I do remember that we were hungry and happy to be going someplace that was not McDonalds. Finally the food arrived at our table. For everyone except me. Where was mine?!??!! I had been left out. Everyone was eating except for me. I felt hurt, and rejected, and angry, and hungry. Then came the hot, angry tears.
One of the teachers alerted the waitress, they rushed my order and I got to eat. But…I had to watch everyone else eat, and smell their food, while I waited. Why had I been forgotten? It wasn’t fair. Why had I been left out? Why didn’t these people care about me? What was wrong with me?
Of course I had not been cruelly singled out. Our large group had simply overwhelmed the kitchen and serving staff. And they had rushed to make things right and take care of me. But that didn’t matter to me at the time. The fact remained that for however long it took for them to make my food, I had been left out and there was nothing for me. I was crushed and my friends at my table ate in awkward silence while everyone else at all of the other tables were happy and laughing.
The most destructive lie we tell ourselves is that there is not enough for everybody. In light of this lie, we compete for whatever resources are necessary for our survival and whatever acknowledgments, affirmations, or rewards prove our worth within our social circles. The lie of scarcity justifies our competing self interests.
Therefore we justify our fear and anxiety for our own lives. We compete for our rightful share, and our share is as much as we can get. When we win, we convince ourselves and everyone else that some people just have to make do with less than enough while others, rightly, have more than enough. The winners get the biggest portion and the best life. The vast majority scramble for the leftovers. And some unfortunate (perhaps undeserving) few, get nothing. Life is a harsh struggle for survival. The fact is there is simply not enough to go around. Enough of what? Fill in the blank.
When we lose, we often get angry, bitter, and jealous. Life isn’t fair. Our hearts grow hard and we equate joy and optimism with naiveté, immaturity, and ignorance. Maybe God does not exist. And if he does exist, he can’t be good. Because if he were good, we would not be left out of all of the good things that everyone else is enjoying. We would get to win also.
This attitude is a deadly downward spiral that kills our hope, relationships, and communities. It drains us of the energy necessary to persevere and pursue God’s purpose for our lives. The truth is there is more than enough for everybody. The fact is too many people believe the lie of scarcity. We build our lives, societies, systems, and institutions around the lie of scarcity and the inevitability of competition.
The truth is we are designed by God to be on the same team. His team. We are not meant to be opponents. We were designed by God to be teammates. We are meant to oppose the lie that we can’t trust God or each other. God has not called us to win at all costs. God has created us, redeemed us, and called us to excellence in committed service to one another. Why? Because we are members of one another. When my hand puts food in my mouth that is good for my feet. In the same way, helping you helps me, and helping me, helps you. We are members of the body of Christ, the church, the people of God.
This is the truth that frees us from the tyranny of false measures of personal worth and social value. God has made certain that there is more than enough provision and opportunity for mutual service and for everyone to have enough. What we have is enough to serve one another. This serves our best interest because we are members of one another.
We are not opposed to each other. We are members of one another. Our mutual generosity is to our mutual benefit. In light of God’s extravagant faithfulness in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our mutual generosity is rational, reasonable, and wise. We thrive in cooperation. God did not make us to compete with one another for survival and prestige. God made us to discover and develop our gifts and talents to serve and honor his love for each other.
We are our brother’s keeper. We are members of one another. When we honor this truth as individuals and members of our congregations, we glorify God in our local communities.
1. How do I express the lie that “there is not enough for everybody” in my relationships within my family?
2. How do I express the lie that “there is not enough for everybody” in my relationships at work?
3. How do I express the lie “that there is not enough for everybody” in my attitudes and actions toward the people in my community?
4. How can I begin honoring the truth that God has provided enough for everybody when we personally commit ourselves to serving one another in our families, churches, and communities?