Abundant Life–Gifts of the Good Shepherd, Day 8

Yesterday, I posed the question, “What is abundant life NOT?” The first answer I want us to think about is:

  1. Abundant Life is NOT equal to material wealth.

You see, our Western Christianity sometimes equates abundant life with material wealth. Some take this to the extreme by implying that if you do not have material wealth, God has not blessed you. This is simply not true.

Yes, He does provide for our needs. (Philippians 4:19)

Yes, He does own the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10-11)

Yes, He does often crown our efforts with material success. (Proverbs 3:6)

But these verses cannot be separated from other verses,

which tell us blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3),

which tell us how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, (Matthew 19:24)

which tell us to sell our possessions and give to the poor. (Mark 10:21)


There is a wonderful promise found in Malachi 3:10

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

In this verse we learn of the concept that when we trust God with our finances enough to give generously and joyfully, we will receive back so much blessing we will not have room enough to store it. Sometimes this includes material wealth. But more importantly, it includes spiritual and emotional wealth. If the blessing does indeed include material wealth, we must remember we are blessed to be a blessing. Our blessing from God should overflow to others. That is our response to abundant life.

Back in the late 80’s, my best friend and I lived in Costa Rica as missionary teachers. We taught in a Christian school in San Jose, but each Saturday morning we caught a bus to a refugee camp called Los Guidos. Los Guidos consisted of hundreds of makeshift, dirt-floored houses, built of scraps of wood or pieces of tin. Basically, they were simply shelters from the daily rain. Over several months, we began to develop friendships with the children, many of whom waited faithfully each Saturday for our bus to arrive. One of these faithful children was a 12-year-old boy named Enrique. Enrique attended our Bible school each week, regardless of which sector we were scheduled. One Saturday, after Bible school, Enrique invited us to walk to his house to meet his family. We agreed to go, and he joyfully led us on the dirt road to his house. When we arrived, we saw a 1-room shack, built up on stilts to avoid the mudslides of the embankment on which it was built. We climbed the muddy hill to get to the entrance, thankful that we had chosen to wear our hiking boots that day.

When we entered his home, we were greeted by his mother, father, and 3 siblings, all who lived together in the 1-room home. The home was mostly empty, except for a worn sofa and a few other belongings in the corner of the room. There was one big “window” on the back wall of the home, which was simply a big rectangle cut out of the plywood wall.   The window had no glass, and I just assumed that they must cover the space with a piece of cloth or plastic when the rain came.

Enrique was obviously so very excited to have us as guests in his home. The rest of the family greeted us with sincere hospitality, and we were amazed with the joy exuding from their home, despite their obvious poor conditions. I could tell that Enrique was anxious and excited to show us something, although I could not see what that could be, considering the sparseness of the room. We followed him over to the back wall where the opening was cut for the window. With a grand sweeping motion, he presented the object of his excitement. What he was so anxious to show us was the view of the mountains, which could be seen from the opening. It was breathtaking! We all stood for several minutes taking in the scene, pausing to focus on the beautiful details, which Enrique obviously considered his own precious treasure.

My life was changed that day. I began to see things differently. I began to see things with Enrique’s perspective. Enrique did not focus on what he did not have. Enrique focused on the great blessings that had so richly been bestowed upon him. I have read that “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what we want, but the realization of what we already possess.” My friends, pray that God opens your eyes to the abundant life He has already given you.

Praying for you today!


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