Abundant life means living in contentment! It is not just having all the money and materials you need to get the things you need and want in life. Abundant life is living in the joy of your walk with Jesus Christ to the point it satisfies your yawning for love, direction in life, peace, comfort, security, and life’s other challenges. It is good health, fertility, timely provisions, friendship, meaningful fellowship with others in the kingdom of God, great hope, unshakable trust in God’s assurances, unrelenting determination to comply with God’s commands, the joy of giving, compassion for others, and selfless and tireless effort directed at the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth.
When you have abundant life, you begin to find purpose in everything that happens in your life, knowing that if it does not have any value to God, He would not have allowed it to come into your life. You begin to trust God completely, and continue to move even when situations in your life dictates otherwise. You come to believe the Bible that trials in your life are actually gateways to great blessings from God. You remain faithful to God, and stay on course, knowing that at His time, He will not only change any situation for you; He will also bring you good fortunes. You come to trust that God will never fail you, and learn not to be all shaken up in the face of adversities.
PROSPERITY is not only abundance of money or material as can be seen from the following passages: “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena.
We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.
I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:8-17).
Being “hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless” is not living in abundance of materials and money.
Becoming “the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment” is not becoming rich and famous.
And to correct those who might limit these living situations of the first Christians to have applied only to a few of the great apostles and disciple and only to this one moment in Apostle Paul’s writing to the Corinthians, Apostle Paul added:
“Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).
These apostles suffered throughout just like Christ suffered so they could serve as examples to us as to how to live as Christians in the face of austerity, tyranny and subjugation. So, if they lived in these conditions throughout their ministries, does it mean they did not receive the blessings that Christ promised for anyone who left family and wealth behind to follow Him? They did but not materially or monetarily:
“Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[a] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”(Matthew 19:28-30).
Was Christ mistaken in telling the rich young ruler to sell everything he had, give them to the poor and follow Him? Was the pain and suffering of the cross reserved only for those who will dedicate their entire life to Jesus while the rest of us live in materials and monetary abundance and in complete safety and security? The answer to all these questions is no! Christ is not a respecter of persons and would not treat those who love Him the most the worst. He allowed these disciples to suffer because they have given their life completely to Him and had decided to die to help provide hope for the poor, the weak and the down-and-outers of society who would easily give up and die without hope.
These men lived with unsurpassed joy for their relationship with Christ and His acceptance of the sacrifices they made. He is their portion here on earth and everywhere His name is mentioned, the names of these great human beings will also be mentioned for they were no ordinary human beings. They perfectly understood what one living in another truly means, so they live on even though they have physically departed this world.
God made them the greatest symbols of brotherly love to encourage us to follow in their footsteps. That is why Paul said: “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16).
Jesus Christ Himself says: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”(John 15:13-17).
These apostles suffered to the end so we may have life and hope, but we only become partakers in their sacrifice if we obey the message they gave their life and livelihood for. Anybody who believes that the apostles suffered and gave their lives so we may not have to go through the same difficulties, simply wants to stay on the receiving side. The Bible says of Christ:
“And he said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.'”(Luke 9:22).
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.'” (Luke 9:23-24).
The same Apostle Paul who described to the Corinthians how they had begun to ‘reign’ due to the sacrifices the apostles made on their behalf, urged all of them to imitate his “way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).
In essence, Apostle Paul was telling the disciples of Christ everywhere to follow his “way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what” he taught “everywhere in every church.” His teaching is that everyone should sacrifice for the benefit of his/her fellow believers: “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!” (1 Corinthians 4:8).
In the following passage, he continued:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9).
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:10-13).