Abundance vs. Death to Self
This is a big one to tackle – but I want to address a big doctrinal rift today…
What does “abundant” mean?
No, please, not in a “churchy” way (we seem to create special definitions for everything that really skew us).
But really – what does that word mean?
Merriam Webster defines it as: marked by great plenty (as of resources); amply supplied http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abundant
So when Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)” What was He saying? Simply stated; Satan steals – I give.
Yet, I know many “Believers” who do not believe “abundant” means “abundant”. In fact, when teachers preach that God is a God who supplies abundantly, many people get upset: “You can’t say that!” “That’s carnal/fleshly Christianity!”
Well first of all, Jesus said it – so I’m pretty sure that’s ok for us to say. But I do understand the dilemma. However, beyond that I think, we must realize that this abundance isn’t in a vacuum. Jesus didn’t promise abundance, (1) without trials, nor (2) without an important balance: death to self.
In fact all the promises of God are somewhat conditional. “If you are willing and obedient, then you will eat the good of the land.”. I hear teachers who teach both sides of this, but often we won’t hear them put together. I’m not saying teachers don’t put them together – but I think we, the hearers, don’t put them together. We hear one side: “be obedient, serve, do what God says!” OR we hear the other side: “God wants to bless you, God will give you all you need.”
But it isn’t one or the other – BOTH are true. Yes, they are. In fact, they are dependent on one another.
A great example is the attempt to dissect this verse… i’ve heard it a few different ways:
Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Ps 37:4)
One person will state plainly, “God gives you what you want” and another will say, “No, God will put HIS desires in your heart and therefore give you those things”.
But in actuality; both are true.
When you “delight yourself in Him” you are going to begin to reflect Him more and more. You are surrendering self and focusing on what He desires. So, does He put desires in your heart? Absolutely. However, that’s not all. God is a GOOD Father. In fact, much of the Word is spent trying to get us to understand that fact. He isn’t holding out on us. He loves to give good gifts to his children! The issue isn’t if it’s “his desire” or “your desire” but if you are submitted to Him.
Let me clarify: God has NEVER had an issue with materially blessing His kids. It’s just he cares about the heart more. All the patriarchs of the Old Testament, King David, and on and on – all were extremely materially blessed. It’s not an issue to Him… unless it’s an issue for us. As I’ve heard it said; God doesn’t have a problem with you having money, He just doesn’t want money to have you. So the question isn’t if He is wants to provide abundantly; the question is the condition of your heart to handle it.
Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified” – my life is not my own, I’ve died. It’s not about what I want.
Yet, simultaneously, Romans 8:32 says He will, “freely give us all things.”
Folks – it’s both.
We have to live a life that’s crucified and surrendered. At the same time, actually believe that He wants to provide and take care of us. That he’s a good Father and as such, when we live in obedience He’s got us covered. Faith demands we believe what He says, not just what we’ve experienced to date or event what we think He means. What did He say?
He said “abundant” and I, for one, am convinced He meant “abundant.”