Another season of giving thanks for the blessings in our lives calls to mind an old adage: “Don’t count your blessings; share them.” We reject a “me-first” ethic of scarcity in favor of an ethic of abundance, an outlook anchored in an attitude of gratitude. This outlook on life is reflected in the psalmist’s confidence in God’s abundance: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1), a deeply intimate and comforting expression of God’s abundant blessings, abundant love, goodness, and mercy that overflows into every area of our lives. This renders powerless the things of this world that we fear the most: death, enemies, and scarcity.
Robert Ketchum writes about this in his book, I Shall Not Want (a story recounted by Tim Hansel in Stories for the Family’s Heart). An ethic of abundance is succinctly communicated through a perceptive child: A young girl confidently responded to her Sunday school teacher’s invitation to recite Psalm 23 from memory. Although the teacher doubted the child’s ability to recite the entire psalm, the teacher encouraged the brave young student to come forward. After she had made her way to the front of the classroom, she proclaimed: “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want.”
This ethic of abundance serves as a powerful antidote to the constant barrage of messages crafted to tell us the things we want: glitzy gadgets and newfangled gizmos seductively marketed to deceive us into believing they will satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. Yet, like the prophetic four-year-old, individuals who approach life with an ethic of abundance gladly share their blessings with others. Individuals who cultivate the habit of giving thanks for the blessings in their lives are givers. They are able to look beyond themselves and to respond in gracious giving to neighbors in need; sharing gifts of their time, talents, and resources to organizations in need of donations and volunteers.
“Don’t count your blessings, share them” challenges us to approach life with an abundance mentality, an approach to thankful living in which practitioners generously give of their time, talents, and energies for the building up of Christ’s church on earth. This outlook is grounded in the belief, “The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I want.”