Jesus wants us to have abundant life now. How do we have this abundant life?
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ESV
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. NLT
According to the NLT, this abundant life is a rich and satisfying life. Let’s establish something up front: “Rich and satisfying” has nothing to do with material possessions or long life. It has to do with the experience of knowing Christ on a deep, deep level. In fact, Christians throughout history who have faced loss, deprivation, torture or death have experienced a closeness to God that goes way beyond ordinary life.
Our prime example is the apostle Paul. In his life, he experienced,
“…far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27
What is Paul’s response to this kind of life?
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
How could Paul have such an attitude? It has to do with what he was looking forward to. Here is the desire of Paul’s heart:
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 4:10-11
Paul had been there (2 Corinthians 12:3-4) and knew what awaited Him. The presence of the Lord was with Him, and that presence sustained him through his life and into the next. We may not go through the trials Paul did, but we can experience the presence of Christ as he did. How? By committing ourselves to Christ every day, by studying His Word with Him, by praising Him often, and by aligning our lives with Him in godliness, righteousness and holiness. We need to learn how to practice the presence of Christ.
Abba, I need to heed my own advice. May I commit my life to You today, asking You to help me make decisions based upon how they will affect me concerning godliness, righteousness and holiness. Call me higher up and further in, Lord. I want to know You more. Amen.