By Brenda Rodgers, Crosswalk.com
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. - John 10:10
Around my daughter's first birthday, mealtimes became unbearable. She couldn't communicate with words yet, so she whined, grunted, and threw food. As a solution, I taught her a few words in sign language. The sign for "more" was one of them.
My daughter is now two-and-a-half and articulate for her age, especially with the word "more." If she begs for something she'll say the word "more" and sign it. I guess she thinks the sign gives her extra chances of getting what she's begging for.
As I've watched my daughter I've asked myself, "Are we much different from toddlers?" From our youngest ages, we desire more. We pine, crave, beg and covet for more. Typically we see this as negative - a part of our sin nature. But what we don't realize is that our desire for more is God's design, and He is happy to give it.
What Is an Abundant Life?
Jesus came so that we can have life because He is the embodiment of life. He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). This life means eternal life in heaven. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we now have a way to be reconciled with God and have eternal life with Him in heaven.
What Scripture Says About Abundant Living
God created us to have an insatiable thirst as we live in this world. When sin entered the world, so did discontentment with life. God desires for us to seek more out of life. The problem is we displace our desire for more because of our discontentment.
The purpose of the tension we feel with what we want and what we have is to point us to God and to eternity. We're meant to desire more of God.
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1).
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6).
God wants us to have a life of abundance. But in God's economy, it never has to do with acquiring worldly possessions that will one day vanish. Instead, it's all about what's eternal.
What We Get Wrong about Abundant Living
Instead of desiring more of God, we seek to fill our need for more with what the world can give - material possessions, fame, achievement, recognition, popularity, and accomplishments. Then we read John 10:10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly," and we misuse it to read that God will give us an abundance of those worldly pursuits we crave.
Nonetheless, Jesus not only gives us the promise of eternal life in heaven, He also gives us an abundant life here on earth. But His abundance has nothing to do with worldly pursuits and everything to do with those attributes that make us more like Him and that we can carry with us into heaven.
How We Can Have an Abundant Life in a Broken, Fallen World
Jesus gives us the fruit of the Spirit, and this is the abundant life. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Jesus wants us to have the best life possible in a world that is sometimes unbearable - a world full of cruelty, injustice, sadness, and pain. He knows that the only way that is possible is for us to take on His character of a life where inwardly we are satisfied because we know who we are through Him, who He is through God the Father, and where we are going - to heaven.
Our lives can be falling apart all around us, and we can still have an abundant life. The abundant life is a state of being from within, not a result of external circumstances. It is the result of the pruning God does to make us more like Him, and it is what we will take to heaven with us (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). An abundant life is a life that keeps on giving.
Which is Better - Abundance or an Abundant Life?
At first look, we might be tempted to say, "What? I rather have a life of abundance so I can have the stuff I want and be happy!" But when you're in a state of crisis, what's worth more - a life full of fear, anxiousness, and tension, or a life full of tranquility and the fruit of the spirit? I think we'd agree that you can't put a price tag on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
An abundant life comes from following God's ways, pursuing holiness, and seeking to be more like Him. "This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him" (Psalm 18:30). As a result, others see the abundant life in you and are led to Jesus through your example: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
God created us to want more. But which kind of "more" will we seek? Abundance in worldly pursuits or an abundant life? The more we desire God, the more abundant our life will be.
Bible Verses on Abundant Life
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. - John 10:10
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17
How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men! - Psalm 31:19
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. - Psalm 16:11
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” - Ephesians 3:20
Brenda Rodgers is the wife to a heart-transplant hero and the mama of two little girl miracles. She lives in Georgia where she enjoys southern culture and her home built in 1900. She writes at BrendaRodgers.com about being a girl-mom, mentoring young women, and life in the south. Her hope is to use her personal life experiences to show other people Jesus. Brenda would love to connect with you on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Image Credit: © Unsplash/Aziz