What is a Life Abundant?
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
We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable, that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation, they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of Happiness. ~ Declaration of Independence
Contentment is an emotional state of satisfaction seen as a mental state drawn from ease in one’s situation, body, and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could accept one’s condition and is a milder and more tentative form of Happiness. ~ Wikipedia
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:12
What is an abundant life? Is it a contented life? Yes. Is it a joyful life? Yes. Is it a love-filled life? Yes. Is it a God-centric life? Yes. Is it a life overflowing with money and power? No, an emphatic No! Jesus taught us how to live abundantly; he wrote the manual in Matthew 5,6,&7— the Sermon on the Mount. Living an abundant life is a sacrificial life and a dangerous life. Jesus did not mention fame or fortune in His sermon. Instead, it is the poor of spirit, the mournful, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the peacemakers, and the persecuted who live abundantly through their suffering.
The center of abundant life is God’s Love, a love-filled life. The loneliest people in the world sit in loveless ivory towers, clinging to the things of this world while refusing to accept their mortality. Every rich man dies and is forgotten. Every poor man dies and is ignored on this earth immediately but forever known by God. Every wise man dies knowing his death is not the end but the beginning. I pray for wisdom, discernment, and an overflowing cup of the Holy Spirit in my prayers to my Creator, my loving God. I am grateful for His blessings, and they are everything I need.
Paul spoke of his contentment in his letter to the Philippians. Is contentment a better word to describe what Happiness looks like? Happiness is elusive because it connotes feeling security through ownership of things. God has said all things under heaven and of his creation are inherently good unless these earthly things become our God—“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19. I believe contentment is powerful. Contentment requires nothing other than Christ’s Love. Contentment is to be at peace with our Creator. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13.
Should the Declaration of Independence be rewritten to say, “The Pursuit of Contentment?” No. America’s Founding Fathers declared, We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation, they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of Happiness. I would interpret the pursuit of Happiness as the Queen of Sheba understanding Happiness has one source—God. The Queen of Sheba was a foreigner, she wasn’t Jewish, but she recognized that Solomon’s people were happy and that Happiness didn’t come from Solomon; it came from YHWH, their God.
Happiness is used 87 times in the Bible, but it is unclear in the definition of Happiness. So I went to Hebrew and Greek and found that much of my Happiness is in the interpretation and use of the Hebrew and Greek words. אֶשֶׁר—Transliteration: esher—Phonetic Spelling: (eh’-sher)—Definition: happiness, blessedness. To my simple mind, it translates to Joy.
Ecclesiastes’ wisdom comes from someone identified as “Qoheleth.” It’s not sure whether this is a personal name, some pseudonym, or the title of an office. Judging from the meaning of the related verb, it would seem that the word means “convener” or “assembler”—thus the standard English translations “Teacher” (NIV) or “Preacher.”
Traditionally Qoheleth has been identified as Solomon because of the information given in the first two verses of the book. Arguing
that no one else was the “son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Yet admitting that the designation “son of David” could be used to refer to anyone in the line of David.
The debates continue, but for my pursuit of Happiness, Joy, Blessedness, and Contentment, the answers to what an abundant life looks like, I went to God’s word in Ecclesiastes:
Wealth Is Not the Goal of Life
6 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him the power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.
3 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he— 4 for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. 5 Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
All the labor of man is for his mouth,
And yet the soul is not satisfied.
For what more has the wise man than the fool?
What does the poor man have,
Who knows how to walk before the living?
Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.
This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Whatever one is, he has been named already,
For it is known that he is man;
And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.
Since there are many things that increase vanity,
How is man the better?
12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?
It is not our toil in building,
Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work, a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
It is not pleasure:
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter—”Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?”
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God ( note, To “fear him” means to stand in awe of him) and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
To Jim’s Conclusion:
After seventy-three years of living, I, too, come to the same conclusion as Solomon. Everything in this life is meaningless without Love. Nothing matters in our lives without Love. Love of God and Love for one another—this is God’s greatest commandment.
The Greatest Commandment:
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, explains life is nothing without Love:
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have Love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have Love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have Love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; Love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain faith, hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.
The year is 2023, and evil angst and hate fill the world, but if even a remnant remains of Love, it will always conquer evil.