What does the term “abundant life” mean to you?
For some, it is defined by great financial security, great material gain, friends, fame, and prominence in the community, corporate or social ladder. Most people believe that to have all these things is the epitome of the abundant life.
But how about Howard Hughes? He was touted as the most wealthy man in modern history, one who had everything going for him. He should have been “on top of the world” - yet he died, a recluse, a pathetic shell of a man — not someone whom you would expect to be a movie producer, inventor, and great entrepreneur - one who had the proverbial Midas Touch.
Another wealthy man who was known in ancient history, King Solomon, probably went down in history for having by far the most buying power of anyone who ever lived. He not only owned land — he owned kingdoms. He was the most prominent player in the world’s economy in his day.
Yet, Solomon, who was also wealthy in wisdom, because he asked God for it as he was about to rule Israel, spent an entire book in the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes) lamenting the futility — the emptiness of having amassed great wealth. He referred to it as “vanity and vexation of spirit.” Chuck Swindoll interpreted that phrase to be “emptiness, and trying to catch the wind.”
Solomon also made many references to life “under the sun” — it’s futility, it’s meaninglessness. His implication in that book was simply, “life is only abundant above the sun.”
But you may say, “But we’re not living above the sun, we are beneath it.” True, our position is to live under the sun — to experience life here on earth. But most people consider that life here on earth is all there is.
The Apostle Paul lived a superabundant, “above the sun” life here on earth — because he was able to count all the things he accomplished in the flesh — all the materials he accumulated in the flesh, as insignificant. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8. There you have it! This is the definition of abundant life — it is in Christ, it is because of Christ, and it is to the glory of Christ. Paul didn’t revel in his “glory” days as being top dog in the Sanhedrin Court — He placed a premium on knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection. Philippians 3:9 He wasn’t interested in a life of leisure and earthly privilege — he was interested in participating in the “fellowship of (Christ’s) sufferings and “being made conformable unto his death.” Philippians 3:10.
Please do not misunderstand the message here — The life of Christ here on earth may not be necessarily the embodiment of all the persecutions the New Testament saints endured. But you have finally grasped abundant life when you come to the understanding that what pleasures you have in this life, you could easily turn loose of — for the glory of God because you realize your joy is not in what the world has to offer. Rather, a miserable, defeated life on earth is when one clutches onto their material wealth so tightly, they cannot regard the blessings they could have, which come from “above the sun” - or in other words, from God the Father in Heaven.
It was said of Corrie Ten Boom, the great servant whom God used to hide Jewish fugitives during the holocaust, was once asked what her secret was to living a contented life.
Her answer, “Hold everything in your hands lightly. Otherwise, it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”