The Bible Project

Abundance or Scarcity - Generosity E1

Episode Summary

Welcome to episode one in our series on Generosity!

Episode Notes

In this series, Tim and Jon trace the theme of generosity and abundance through the Scriptures.

In part 1 (0-7:45), the guys quickly introduce the conversation. Tim explains that generosity is both a theme and a concept that is found throughout the Scriptures.

In part 2 (7:45-32:10), Tim shares from a famous passage in the gospel accounts.


Luke 12:22-34

"And He said to His disciples, 'For this reason I tell you, don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat; and don’t be anxious about your body, what clothes you put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Ponder the ravens, for they don’t sow seed or reap a harvest; they have no storerooms or barns, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life’s span? And if you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Ponder the lilies, how they grow: they don’t toil or spin clothes; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You who trust God so little! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and don’t foster your anxiety. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be granted to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'"

Tim points out that freedom from anxiety is rooted in a conception of the universe, like a safe place where I’m welcomed by a generous host. The same overabundance we see in nature comes from a Creator who shows that same generosity towards us. This mindset frees us from a scarcity mentality, releasing us to freely give resources to others. Jesus observed this not primarily as a religious principle but as one written on the DNA of the universe. Jesus sees the birds and flowers and grass and notices God’s generosity and overabundant love.


The words of Jesus sound almost irresponsible to Type A, hardworking people. Yet with these words, Jesus articulates a way of seeing the world rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures and their depiction of God’s generosity. Tim notes that often we’re the ones who need our eyes opened to see God’s generosity in creation.

In part 3 (32:10-36:30), Tim points out Jesus’ view of creation, that God created a good world that always produces enough, as long as humans live in accordance with the image of God.

In part 4 (36:30-53:20), Tim asks: What kind of tradition and culture did Jesus grown up in that allowed him to have this mindset? One passage Tim offers is Psalm 104:10-17 and 24-28:

He sends forth springs in the valleys;
They flow between the mountains;
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
They lift up their voices among the branches.
He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.
He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man’s heart.
The trees of the Lord drink their fill,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
Where the birds build their nests,
And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.

O Lord, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.
There is the sea, great and broad,
In which are swarms without number,
Animals both small and great.
There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.
They all wait for You
To give them their food in due season.
You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.


Tim points out that this is a Psalm Jesus would have grown up hearing in synagogue. Jesus believed creation is an expression of the generous, creative love of God. Genesis 1-2 shows us that God brings order out of chaos (Gen. 1) and a garden out of a wasteland (Gen. 2). These God gives as a gift to humanity.

One way of thinking of the biblical storyline, Tim points out, is as a story of giving and taking. Yahweh God creates a wonderful world, full of potential, and he gives it to humanity to rule with him through wisdom. Humanity then desires to rule on their own terms and takes creation for themselves.

In part 5 (53:20-end), Tim points out the human problem, not only on a societal level, but on a heart level. By default, we act to benefit ourselves. In the midst of this, Tim notes, the Bible’s view on wealth is complex. Jesus talks about wealth and money more than most topics—a top-three subject of conversation. Scripture is suspicious about wealth, knowing how affluence and abundance can make humans indulgent and arrogant.

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Show Produced by: Dan Gummel, Tim Mackie

Show Music:
• Defender Instrumental by Tents
• Conquer by Beautiful Eulogy
• Shot in the Back of the Head by Moby
• Scream Pilots by Moby
• Analogs by Moby

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