Bernie May, in Learning to Trust, writes of the Mazatec Indians, located in southwestern Mexico. Their culture is marked by the concept of “limited good.” The concept of limited good is that there is only so much good, so much knowledge, and so much love to go around. Accordingly, because good is limited, it is wise not to share it.
The concept of limited good has its ramifications. Seldom will anyone greet someone with a “Good day.” Knowledge is not shared freely, including the basic arts of village life, e.g., making bread. To teach another means you might lose your competitive advantage.
It seems that the concept of limited good flows from the root idea that there is not enough. While it would be easy enough to chide the concept as primitive, perhaps we should give it more credence.
Indeed, how often do we limit our good? We can’t serve in church because we don’t have enough energy. Or we can’t have a neighbor over because we have too many soccer practices. Or perhaps, we don’t have enough time for the Scriptures because we didn’t get enough sleep.
Limited good is not just cultural. It is a concept of the heart, and it prompts other basic questions: Will I ever say I have enough? Is it enough for God to be my supplier?
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Published January 24, 2011