So back to the question at hand--the difference between abundance and excess. As a husband provides for his bride, even so has Jesus provided for His Bride--us, the Church. He is our provider, our source. We are joint heirs to everything that the Father has freely given to us as His family. He has not given us excess--He has given us abundance. This type of excess refers to that which is obtained so that it can be squandered. Abundance demands accountability from the steward; there is no accountability or responsibility that accompanies excess. A wise man stewards. A foolish man squanders.
Abundance is what our Lord gives to us to steward for His Kingdom. Excess is what the world seeks after. It is vanity, and is accumulated in order to be wasted. The citizens of the world seek after things so that they can lavish those things on themselves. This is covetousness and idolatry. Have you noticed how during this past Christmas season so many have placed undue stress on themselves, putting themselves in debt, enduring long lines, in some cases getting into altercations just so they can accumulate "stuff" either for themselves or to purchase as gifts? The citizens of heaven understand that their needs have already been met--this is the promise that their Father has made to them. Therefore, anything above and beyond their met needs is not to be wasted as excess. It is abundance to be stewarded and distributed according to the Holy Spirit, their guide and teacher. Through this abundance, the poor and hungry are fed, the widows and orphans are cared for. This is what the Pharisees of old and the prosperity teachers of the present fail to understand, or simply ignore--either way, this is dangerous. This is what Paul instructed Timothy to guard himself against:
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit.
These things teach and exhort.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. [1 Timothy 6:6-11]
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. [1 Timothy 6:17-19]
Be content with what your Father has provided you with and don't seek after things that can potentially destroy you--that is covetousness which eventually leads to idolatry. Do not make an idol of something that is temporary. Many are on the wide path to destruction because of this.
It is in the understanding of this truth that one becomes a cheerful giver, the person who can truly steward that which has been given to him. God has promised to supply all of our needs. Anything above and beyond that that you intend to use for yourself is a want. Those of us that are living beyond our means are trying to meet the wants -- that which the Word says that heaven is not obligated to meet. Here's a question: Can a person be a "cheerful giver" if they have put themselves in debt in order to give a gift?
The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. [Proverbs 10:22]
The "sorrow" comes from the human effort that is expended to meet that "want", such as getting a second job (or even a third) in order to purchase more "stuff" (I've been down that road, unfortunately).
On the other hand, there's the cheerful giver. The cheerful giver is so because he has received the revelation that he has been set free. The truly cheerful gives because he has given of himself first. Any other subsequent giving is a reflection of this. When you have completely died to self, you are free to give of everything that your heavenly Father has entrusted you with. You do not need to hold onto anything; you have now become a channel through which the Father's love flows. Whether you are giving treasury, time, talent or truth is irrelevant. These things have been given to you by the Father (it's all His). You give them freely and cheerfully at the Holy Spirit's instruction. You cannot be a cheerful giver unless you are truly free. Ultimately the cheerful giver's gift is the gift of LOVE. That love can be manifested in spending time with someone, showing mercy, giving money or a bag of groceries. Again, the true gift is eternal. His Love in you is what sets the recipient free as you minister out of that love. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Give wisely and cheerfully. Wisely--because it is at the Holy Spirit's direction, and cheerfully--because of the understanding that by receiving from His Hand (you) they (the recipients of your giving) is one step closer to their total freedom. New Testament giving is about setting the captives free. Money for souls. This is the real reason for abundance, bearing in mind all the while the only real and true gift is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ.
Giving is a whole lot more than money. It is a mindset. I will share something that the Holy Spirit shared with me over six months ago. It came in the form of a rebuke, but in the context of transparency, I believe that it is relevant to you simply because you happen to be reading this:
If you are not able to steward your life and your time, how will you be able to steward the finances? It is the same principle: with the same diligence that you steward one, you will steward the other. I am looking at your heart. What is the purpose of your heart?
This was a wake up call for me. If you have a heart to give, be sure that it is with a cheerful heart, not a covetous (or sorrowful) one. Also, never give out of coercion--give freely. Here's another passage of scripture pertaining to monetary giving, New Testament style. You will notice that I have made no reference to being cursed if you don't give, or giving to get a blessing. Not only is this type of teaching heresy, but is steeped in covetousness. There. I said it.
Now therefore perform the doing of it (giving); that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it (the gift) is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. [2 Corinthians 8:11-12] (Parentheses mine)
Giving is worship, and God receives your worship based on the condition of your heart. Do not let the enemy condemn you...be encouraged!