I am so excited to introduce Amber Durgan from Cultivating Jewels to my blog! Today, Amber will be talking about what the Bible really says about abundant life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I have heard it said “ask 10 different Christians what abundant life is and you will be given 14 different answers”. While we may know we have abundant life, many of us struggle to define what Jesus meant when He made the promise found in John 10:10. Some will tell you God is all about prosperity and live a life devoted to a prosperity gospel. Others take on a completely opposite view and believe that we are never to truly enjoy a single moment in this life because heaven is where we will find abundance. So what then is the answer? To answer this question, let’s take a look at three myths regarding the abundant life to see if we can piece together an idea of what Jesus really was talking about in this verse.
Myth 1: Abundant life is reserved for heaven
This sounds good at face value, we know that heaven will be wonderful and beautiful beyond description, but when we let Scripture interpret Scripture (as we should) we find this idea to be false. When Jesus made the promise of abundance in John 10:10. He indeed was talking about eternity first and foremost, but that does not mean the rest of life is to be lived in mundane or worse yet agony.
Let’s take a look at Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
The Lord has gone before us to prepare a life of abundance in the here and now. Using verse four as a reference we know that there will be no death or sorrow in heaven, so it must be our live here on earth that this Psalm is referencing. God promises to prepare a table before us (to give us abundant life), not only in heaven but also in this life. Perhaps the believe that abundance is reserved for heaven stems from the fact we are promised hardship on this earth but, friend – to disprove another myth – abundance is not the lack of trial. Abundance is not synonymous with perfection.
Myth 2: Abundance is the same as prosperity
We will not be given everything we want simply because we follow after God and believe His promise of abundance. Recall the “hall of faith” (as some call it) in Hebrews 11. This chapter talks about many of our great faith heroes (Noah, Abraham, Moses…) it mentions their wins and their hardships. If it is true that abundance is not only for heaven, it must also be true that abundance is not the same as prosperity. What the prosperity gospel claims (money in the bank, a healthy body, a private yacht if that spells prosperity to you…) is wrong on so many levels. Abundance means more than material wealth. It is often in the moments where we are struggling to understand why xyz is a part of our lives that we experience God’s abundance most deeply.
For example while they were some of the most painful experiences I have ever walked through, having two miscarriages allowed me to be close to the Father in a way I never would have been without them. Having my dad die at a young age has taught me to rely on God the Father in a way I might never had learn had I had an earthly father. God wants us to live abundantly and joyfully right in the midst of our battles.
Myth 3: Abundance is reserved for the super spiritual
There was once a time I believed this myth hook, line and sinker. You have heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy” and in my case it was true. I would look around to those seemingly blessed more than I and wonder why they had xyz when I was struggling through life. I surmised that they must do a better job of living for God than I could or that they somehow were closer to Him and therefore were being given blessings I did not have. Not only was this false, it was very detrimental to my walk with the Lord for a long tine.
God does not play favorites, nor does He reserve abundance for only a certain group of His children. Now, it is true we must be living for the Lord to experience His abundance (there are only two choices – living for God or living for the enemy and remember, the enemy has come to steal, to kill and to destroy) but friend, as long as you are walking by the Spirit and daily following God you are in on the promise of abundance.
Paul might be the best person in the Bible to explain this truth. He began as Saul, a man who was persecuting and killing Christians, until God got his attention on the road to Damascus. This (quite obviously) turned His life around and He began to live for God. Paul was never elect above other Christians, in fact he would tell you (as many of his letters start) he was a servant of God.
Friend, I hope that today in looking at these myths you have been able to use what abundance is not to understand the concept of what is on a deeper level. God longs for you to experience the full life, He sent His only Son to die upon the cross for you so that you may live abundantly! We have much to celebrate.
Soli deo Gloria.