Babette’s Feast, the acclaimed film set in 19th-century Denmark, is the story of Martine and Filippa, two aged and impoverished sisters living in a house they shared with their father until his death. Babette, a penniless refugee from France, arrives on the sisters’ doorstep, hoping to serve as their housekeeper. Though unable to pay Babette, the sisters welcome her into their home, where she lives with them and volunteers as their cook.
After 14 years, Babette learns the shocking news that she’s won 10,000 francs in a lottery and can now return to her home and her life. Instead, however, Babette decides to blow the entire windfall purchasing the finest meats, cheeses, and delicacies so she can throw a grand party for Martine, Filippa, and all their friends. When the sisters discover the extravagant abundance of Babette’s sacrificial generosity, they are forever changed.
Read Ephesians 3:14-21
Before opening your Bible, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what He wants you to take away from this passage. Then read the section, jotting down your first impressions: What questions do you have? Is anything confusing? Which verses speak into your present situation, and how?
Abundance, a posture of lavish generosity, pours forth from God’s heart. Our Father is not miserly or small, nor does He operate on a shoestring budget. Rather, He owns the “cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10) and longs for the entire world to recognize—and receive—the plentiful provision available from His hand. In Ephesians 3:19 (NLT), Paul prayed that his friends might “experience the love of Christ,” even though this love is so vast and overflowing that “it is too great to understand fully.” God’s love—and all His bountiful blessings stemming from this love—is simply too much to contain, too much to comprehend. Divine love and provision can never run thin; there’s more than enough for everyone.
The apostle prayed that God’s “glorious, unlimited resources” would fill and energize everyone in need (Eph. 3:16). Unlike Babette’s funds, which were exhausted in her extravagant gift, His well won’t ever run dry. Paul insisted that God was able to “accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Eph. 3:20); there is never any worry that when we arrive asking for help, the Lord may have already dispensed all the mercy or reserves He had available.
Divine love and provision can never run thin; there’s more than enough for everyone.
In contrast, much of our culture (economic, political, religious) works off the underlying idea of scarcity—that there’s not enough for everyone so we must grasp and claw to hold on to what’s ours (money, ideals, power). However, the kingdom of God tells a vastly different story. Creation was the Lord’s act of exuberant lavishness—so many creatures, so much beauty, so much more than was necessary for humans to merely survive. Likewise, when God fed Israel in the desert or when Jesus fed the 5,000 or when our Savior hung on a cross as an act of love for the entire world, we again hear the story of immeasurable supply.
Divine abundance not only offers us hope in our many places of despair (which is another way of saying the many occasions where we fear ruin); it also offers us a new way to live in the world: openhearted, generous, and hopeful. The Lord tells us that abundance is the truth of our earthly existence, and we are set free to live in a way that conveys this reality to others.
Write your thoughts in the space provided for notes or in a journal.
• Read Mark 6:33-44, one of the accounts of Jesus feeding 5,000 hungry followers. Where do you see the interplay of these two ideas: scarcity and plenty? How would you describe the disciples’ initial response? What does the conclusion of the story tell you about the Lord’s desire for all who were there? About all who are hungry?
• Read the opening chapters of Genesis, looking for themes of abundance. What does this introduction to Scripture tell us about God’s heart for the world? Where in the human narrative do you think our path veered from the Lord’s original intent? Why do you think we are now so estranged from our beginnings, so tempted to live from the idea of scarcity?
• Read 2 Cor. 9:8. What do you notice in this text? What is the result, or the overflow, of the abundance God offers us?
• In which areas are you most tempted to view your life or the world through the lens of scarcity? Where do you feel most depleted and in need of God’s provision? Where is it most difficult for you to believe that God is generous toward you or those around you?
• In what ways have you experienced the Father’s overflowing provision? Where can you recognize, in hindsight, that you have received His abundance—but weren’t able to see it at the time? Describe how recognizing God’s inexhaustible generosity affects you.
• How does it change your posture (as you watch the news or balance your checkbook or interact with a neighbor) to see the world in light of God’s abundance rather than under the dim grayness of scarcity?
• Watch for the prevalent news stories this week. Do they seem to indicate a prevailing view of scarcity or abundance? In what ways does human greed interfere with the Lord’s openhanded provision?
• Consider doing some act for another person this week—one that carries no agenda other than demonstrating God’s abundance. Afterwards, take time to reflect on the experience and what impact it had on your heart.
• Meditate on this truth during the coming days: “My God will supply all [my] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).