Q. When a Christian says that they want the ‘abundant life’ what exactly does that mean? It seems to me that over the years the meaning has changed. Please, would you site scripture to help me understand this?
A. The phrase abundant life comes from the King James version of John 10:10 where Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
The Greek word translated abundantly means exceeding our needs, over and above what is necessary. Obviously, every believer has a spiritual abundance. Here are a few verses that help us see there’s a material side to this promise as well.
One, we are not supposed to allow our desire for an abundant life to become more important to us than our love for the Lord (Matt. 6:19-24).
Two, we are not supposed to strive for an abundant life independently of the Lord, but to seek the His will for our life and let Him provide it for us in the manner He chooses (Romans 12:1-2).
And three, we are supposed to use a portion of our abundance to help others. Jesus said that our generosity toward those in need will determine His generosity toward us (Luke 6:38). And Paul said, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, but whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6) .
Having more than we need is what allows us to help those who have less. God is just. He wouldn’t promise to reward us for helping others without also giving us the ability to do so. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).