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Have you ever wanted the world to stop for a day or even just an hour, so that you could catch your breath? Of course, it will never happen. Yet, there is a way to live that allows us breathing space every day. I call it having a “margin mentality.”
When we are pressed in our finances, our relationships, our calendars, our affections and there isn’t enough time, money or “me” to go around, thoughts of inadequacy create a “scarcity mentality.” But we serve a God who is all-sufficient. In Him, there is no scarcity.
The story of Nehemiah shows us how God wants us all to rebuild our individual lives by putting God first. When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, all he saw were ruins, enemies and obstacles. But Nehemiah followed God’s Word, applied the principles and within weeks, the people were mobilized, strengthened and energized to rebuild the walls. And in so doing, he rebuilt a city and prepared the way for the exiled, oppressed and discouraged people of Israel to return to the home God promised them.
God wrote in His Word that He is a God of “exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or even think.” It’s up to us to catch that idea and let it change us. Renewing our minds to delete a scarcity mentality always starts by reading and acting on God’s Word. When we do, we begin to develop a margin mentality that gives us room to breathe in every area of our lives.
Sometimes we get in the way of ourselves. We think we don’t have the right education or we weren’t raised in the right family or we didn’t make all the right choices. This scarcity mentality puts limitations on God. It’s as if we’re trying to build our life on our own foundation, not on the foundation God wants to give us.
You can know all the right people, have the right spouse and even attend the right church, but if you don’t place God first and build on His foundation, you’ll limit Him.
The margin mentality takes the limits off of God. With a margin mentality, God works beyond your salary, beyond what your family can do and beyond your job status.
Years ago, I knew a man with a checkered background named Lenny. He had been boisterous and bullied in school. When I met him, he had been married and divorced a couple of times and was struggling to be the great dad he desired to be. His old blue pickup truck was evidence of his financial trouble.
On social media, Lenny saw that his high school friend had received Jesus as Savior and that her life was getting better. Out of desperation, Lenny contacted her. Little by little, he started attending church and reading the Bible. Lenny didn’t realize it, but he started changing from a scarcity mentality to a margin mentality.
People noticed. A woman came to church asking for marriage counseling. She said, “I don’t attend here, but my husband works with a man named Lenny, and if God can change him, God can change my marriage.”
Later, Lenny’s boss offered him a job as a salesman. Lenny moved out of the back room and became one of the leading salesmen. He engaged with his son in a new way and their relationship started flourishing. Soon, Lenny was driving a new truck.
Lenny just followed God’s Word, and it helped him establish a foundation for his life that allowed him to live with margin. He had margin in his finances, in his relationships and in his work.
Time and again, I’ve seen miracles in people’s lives who gained a margin mentality. When a car breaks down or an air conditioning system goes out, I’ve seen God show up in a phenomenal way because of people who built their life on the Word of God.
We have to remember that God is the Sovereign King of the universe. He can overcome tragedies in nations, and he can also work in your life, in your job, in your marriage, in your children and grandchildren. There is nothing too hard for our God.
Scripture states that God has the ability to supply our needs in Christ Jesus, according to His riches. It doesn’t say He has the ability to do that according to your perfect life or if your boss likes you or if you’ve got the right degrees or if the economy is up or down. It’s according to Him.
If you rebuild the foundation of your life on God’s Word, God can turn trouble into transformation. God can surprise you. God can open doors so big that you never imagined it possible.
Sure, God asks us to give, He asks us to spend time in prayer and He asks us to take food to the poor. But what He’s really doing is trying to give us something, not take something from us. Each principle of God’s Word is intended to build margin. It’s in that margin that God can truly bless and surprise us. That’s what He did for Lenny. That’s what He did for Nehemiah.
When we can’t do anything on our own, God can bring it to pass. God shows up to work in the margins when we’re faithful to build a margin mentality in our lives.
James Welch is the lead pastor of First Baptist Fort Lauderdale, a city-center church and multicultural movement comprised of over 70 different nationalities, bringing hope and equipping people to experience a Jesus First Life. Its services are translated live into three languages and broadcast online across the nation and around the world.