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When Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of His time, the Pharisees, in John 10:10, He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (New King James Version).
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “abundance” like this: “an ample quantity; affluence, wealth; and relative degree of plentifulness.” Then it gives a list of synonyms for abundance. I find these to be lots of fun. Here are just a few: oodles, passel, boatload, gobs, and truckload. If we follow Christ, this verse promises His followers life by the truckload. Love it!
If you back up and read the entire Chapter 10 of John, Jesus is speaking of Himself in metaphors. He describes Himself as the Good Shepherd who guides and guards His sheep, and the sheep follow Him. He says that kind of shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, and promises in verse 10 that He has come to give His followers life to the fullest.
I decided to try to discover what Jesus meant by life “more abundantly” in John 10:10, according to several Bible commentators. Some interpreted it to mean quantity of life. In other words, we will have life eternally with Christ. It will never end. Others added that it also means quality of life right now. That we who follow Christ experience an abundance of grace and mercy. Most concluded that abundant life also includes rich blessings in the here and now.
As an American Christian, John 10:10 sounds so good, but it’s tough for me to see it sometimes. I often feel plagued by worries, doubts, and frustrations. My husband and I discuss frequently whether we are living lives that are abundant. Yes, I have received more blessings from God in my lifetime than I can count or deserve. But life is still hard. Finances difficult. Tempers short. Children rebellious. Jobs tedious or infuriating. Health deteriorating. The list goes on.
I know I live in the richest country in the world. I have never gone to bed hungry unless I was trying to make myself diet. I have never found myself without a safe, warm, dry place to sleep unless I was on a voluntary camping or hiking trip (to the Colorado Rockies where it was forty degrees and constantly raining, but that’s another story). I have always known the love of a family and community. I have always known I am valued. Those things make my life overflowingly abundant.
So how come I often don’t feel it?
How do we recognize and live life more abundantly? What can we do to take Jesus up on His promise that He gives life more abundantly to His followers? I think there are several keys to engaging with Jesus more authentically in order to live life more abundantly as we follow Him.
If you want to live an abundant life of following Christ (because He is the one who promised it, after all), you have to know Him. Intimately. How is your Bible reading going? Are you digging into His Word daily? Are you praying often? Are you going deeper with discussion, commentary, and instruction? How about your fellowship? Do you have a church you call home and that you attend on a regular basis so you can both serve and be served by your local body of Christ? Until we get serious about growing in our faith and getting close to Jesus Christ, it’s hard to follow Him and receive His abundance.
One way to live life abundantly is to learn something new. Keep growing and learning. Develop a skill or talent you let lie dormant for too long. Challenge yourself to go deeper into a subject you are passionate about. Learn a new language or consider a new profession. Don’t stay stuck. Stuck is not abundant living. If you feel trapped in an unfulfilling job and an unfulfilled life, start praying for God to reveal what you and He can change to get you on the path to living out your passions and purpose.
You can’t always change frustrating circumstances and situations, but you can decide what your emotional reaction will be. When frustrations and annoyances come, you get to choose whether they will push your buttons or whether you will practice James 1:1-4 (New Living Translation) and, “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” If one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, I want to see a rich harvest of that fruit in my life when it comes to my emotions. I can feel anger, but I don’t have to act angry. I can feel frustrated, but I don’t have to lose my temper. If I ask God to control my emotional life instead of my hormonal self running the show, my life (and everyone who comes in contact with me) experiences life more abundantly.
It’s hard to feel like you have an abundant life if your body hurts. If it doesn’t sleep. If it is overweight and hard to even move. In order to live life abundantly, physical health is critical. That’s one of the reasons I joined God’s Greenery, to explore CBD as part of my health journey. If CBD unlocks the natural CB1 and CB2 receptors God placed in my body and helps them activate to reduce inflammation throughout my system, then CBD may be one natural addition toward optimal health and abundant living. Whole foods, plenty of hydration, physical exercise, and natural healing are key components to a healthy body. Healthy bodies can do more, experience more, enjoy more, live more. Abundantly.
How are you living life more abundantly? Here at God’s Greenery, we want to build a community of Christ followers exploring ways to live life more abundantly. Share your best practices in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear from you!
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