The good, abundant life. To laugh at the days to come like the Proverbs 31 woman. Well, what I’ve have learned is that abundance is so much more than wealth or circumstances.
Abundance and living abundantly have become catchy phrases in the business world. We have probably all seen those graphics, posts or Facebook ads that promise abundance. But what does abundance mean to Christians? The world we live in has certain ideas about abundance. So often people seek fulfillment in success, material goods, and living life to the fullest. We’re going to dig into what God says about those things in Scripture in order to rightly think about and handle wealth in light of the abundance we have in Christ.
Let’s start by looking at what abundance is. Abundance, according to the Merriam Webster website, is an extremely plentiful or over- sufficient quantity or supply, overflowing fullness; affluence; wealth. Scripture defines abundance a little bit differently and that is what you need to keep in mind as we study it.
Why do we want abundance and why is it vital to understand it?
The importance of studying abundance comes down to the heart. We as humans, were given dominion over God’s creation (Genesis 1:26). Part of that dominion is the opportunity to honor God by stewarding money. Wealth can be great, when used with the right heart attitude. However, sin has affected our attitudes toward work and wealth. This means we need to be extra intentional about how we steward God’s gifts.
Because this dominion over creation was ruined by sin, greed entered the picture and the human heart. In the Gospel of Luke, in chapter 12, we read the story of a man who asked Jesus to arbitrate between him and his brother over the matter of an inheritance. Jesus says in verses 14 and 15, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” (New International Version Study Bible) Then he said to them,
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Often when we think of abundance, we think of John 10:10 where Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in full.” (NIV Study Bible) The English Standard Version says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” When we compare these two verses, we realize that the true abundant life is not about our physical prosperity, as marketers want us to believe.
Instead, the true abundant life is having a renewed heart that is in a relationship with Jesus. Since he frees us from slavery to sin, we can walk in true abundance with him. Since God is the ultimate good, being in a relationship with God again, without sin alienating us from God, means that we can enjoy abundant life because we enjoy life in Him and knowing Him.
Mark 8:35-37 sums it up well with these words:
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Where True Abundance Comes From
Because abundant life isn’t about possessions, we need to consider what it is about. Living with true abundance comes from knowing Jesus.
Our new life begins when we accept Jesus as Lord of our life and we start to walk with him. Our guilt and inherent sin have been forgiven, relieving us of the weight of the sin we carry with us. We become new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” How wonderfully delightful is that?!
We are made new once we enter into that relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit starts working in us to cultivate the changes that happen as we turn over control of our lives to Christ. If you have not entered into a relationship with Jesus, follow the link in the action items.
Do you remember how it felt when you gave your life to Jesus? I remember the feeling a weight lifted off of me. The first time I felt this way was when I accepted Jesus into my heart as an eight-year-old at Bible camp. The feeling is the same feeling I have when I turn over a worry or burden to Jesus in a prayer of surrender. I struggle with anxiety over money. I wonder if we will have enough to pay our bills and still feed the kids. Once I surrender this anxiety to Jesus and focus on his promises to provide, the weight is lifted. It feels like I have new life (again) as this is a common anxiety.
When you see advertisements about “having it all” and “being wealthy,” what does that make you think of? I know for me, I think of what it would be like to not worry about money. I also think about how it would feel to have whatever I wanted in terms of possessions. We could finally buy that Jeep Wrangler. But the thing about material possessions is that they don’t last.
Jesus offers a lasting abundance. If we continue reading in Luke 12, verses 32-34 say, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” With the focus on living an abundant life in Christ, we focus on things that are not going to wear out, rust, or be stolen.
The treasures you develop now will last forever. You will see the abundance of fruit overflow in your life and the lives of others as you continue to live in Christ. When we walk with Christ, we abound in the fruits that his Spirit works in us, things like love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, and more (Galatians 5:22-23). While worldly abundance of material goods is appealing and enticing, they cannot bring us lasting joy and peace like Christ can.
True abundance comes from knowing Jesus.
It’s Not All Roses and Cupcakes
Best case scenarios are always what we hope for. Over the last few days we have talked about how abundance is more than money and material goods, how our relationship with Jesus is the most important part, and how it is the basis for all abundance.
Recognizing that life is not all roses and cupcakes, because that’s real life, we will go through hard times in our life, just as we had before we were Christians. We may even go through more hardship now, living as a Christian. Philippians 4 is a well-known chapter of the Bible. However, when you dig into it, you may find something new. I want you to stop here and go read Philippians 4 right now.
Now let’s focus on verses 12 and 13, where Paul says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Your attitude and focus is so important in how you deal with abundance. You are able to have joy and contentment because of the strength that Jesus gives, no matter the circumstance.
My NIV Study Bible says in the notes, “Paul was content because he could see life from God’s point of view. He focused on what he was supposed to do, not what he felt he should have. Paul had his priorities straight, and he was grateful for everything God had given him. Paul detached himself from the nonessentials so he could concentrate on the eternal.” Because of this focus on his relationship with God, he was content in all of his circumstances, even while he suffered through difficult times. To put this chapter into context, Paul wrote the book of Philippians while he was in prison for sharing his faith. He was receiving support from the church in Philippi and that’s why he was writing them this letter. He was able to share with the church what he had found.
Paul’s joy was not dependent on material abundance, and ours should not be either.
I shared with you about my anxiety surrounding money. If we use that same worry as the example here, my attitude can go one of two ways. I can choose to be consumed by my worry. Or I can decide that my attitude is not a captive to my bank account, and I can continue to be joyful in all circumstances. When we make the choice to view abundance as the abundant life in Christ, He frees us to rejoice in all circumstances. It can most definitely be a struggle to keep that focus on Jesus, but it is in those times when we need to press harder into our time with Jesus so we can get comfort, strength and reassurances in who He is.
I have found that God uses some of the hardest times to help me grow in abundant life.