Nothing will deplete your faith like looking at what you lack.
I find that the more I fixate on my lack of resources, the strengths I don’t have, the weaknesses I do have, the heavier the weight of unbelief becomes and the harder the race of faith becomes (Hebrews 12:1).
Looking at a deficit fuels our fear and drains our hope. A deficit says we don’t have enough to make the payment, meet the need, make the deadline, preach the sermon, fix the marriage, instruct the child, counsel that hard case, defeat the sin, or overcome the weakness. We don’t take risks with a deficit in view.
Looking at a surplus, on the other hand, fuels our courage and fills us with hope. A surplus means there is more than enough to meet our needs. And a surplus encourages expansive dreaming and generosity toward others.
You Have No Deficit
Left to ourselves, we have deficits that are horrifyingly real. Without God in this world we would have very good reason to feel hopeless (Ephesians 2:12).
But the good news is that if you’re a Christian, you no longer have any deficits. None. Christ not only paid your unfathomable sin debt (Colossians 2:14), he also purchased for you “all things” (Romans 8:32). That’s all things! What you have is an oil jar of God’s provision that will never run out (1 Kings 17:14). You have a bank account you cannot overdraw.
If this hasn’t been our experience, we are tempted to qualify this nearly incredible claim. But we cannot qualify it and be faithful to the Bible. This is not some prosperity theology’s over-realized eschatology. It’s what the Bible unequivocally and unapologetically tells us we should expect to experience right now in this age:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
They are astounding promises. They aren’t promises of unfailing health (Philippians 2:25–27) or extravagant wealth (Philippians 4:12). But they promise that God will provide for every need so that we will abound in every good work and be “enriched in every way to be generous in every way” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
The Key to the Storehouse
These promises of provision are unequivocal and unapologetic, but they are not unconditional. The condition is faith (Matthew 17:20; John 11:40; James 1:5–7). We open the jar of God’s provision and access God’s bottomless bank account by exercising faith. We must act on the promises, or their contents remain untapped.
Unbelief looks at what we perceive to be a deficit and loses heart. Unbelief doesn’t think there will be anything in the jar and so doesn’t open it. Unbelief doesn’t think the funds in the account will be available and so doesn’t draw against them.
Unbelief can exist with alarming ease alongside an assent to sound doctrine. We can affirm the truth of these promises, but if we are unwilling to act on them they do us no good. Because we don’t in fact believe them.
In these promises, God shows us his storehouse of abounding provision. Faith is the key that opens the storehouse. And God wants us to open his storehouse! He wants us to have his abounding grace! Yet he requires faith because “without faith it is impossible to please him . . . [but] he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Stop the Deficit Review
Now, if you’re like me, at this point you say, “I know! But telling me that I don’t have enough faith doesn’t help me have more. It just shows me my deficit and makes me feel defeated! Show me how to have more faith!”
Good! When we’re sick and tired of being a disciple with “little faith” (Luke 12:28), we’re ready to take steps to change.
And change begins by stopping our deficit review. We must stop looking at our lack: our lack of resources, wisdom, and power, even our lack of faith. Our deficits discourage and defeat. Our deficits deplete faith. That’s why Satan accuses you, tries to point out your bankruptcy, and overall encourages you to think about yourself as much as possible. He does not want you to look to Jesus and all the abounding grace that he purchased for you.
Seek First the Kingdom
But if we look to Jesus, he shows us how to increase our faith. First he says,
“Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12:29–31)
Jesus tells us not to look at the world’s deficits, but to the Father’s kingdom. Make kingdom priorities our top priorities and he will provide every need of ours. What specific priorities? Ask God and look to the Scriptures. He will make that clear.
Then Jesus says,
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32–34)
Jesus tells us to exercise faith by actually divesting ourselves of our security idols and giving away more than we believe we can. Jesus’s challenge: Put the promise to the test and do not be afraid. Our Father delights in giving us the kingdom and all its treasures!
Lay aside the weight of your deficits by:
- Looking away from deficits
- Instead, look to your Source of abounding grace and never ending surplus, which is available to you right now
- Seek the Father’s kingdom first
- Take steps to liquidate your false securities and give with radical generosity.
God’s promise is that if we do this, we will see him act and our faith will increase.