Usually, if someone is heart-set on having an abundance of something, we tend to be rather critical of his greed and selfishness, right? Generally, that’s justifiable. In the Christian world, one of the greatest blights is the “prosperity gospel” crowd who preach that God wants you to have that big house, fat wallet, glistening Rolex, and luxurious Lexus.
Nevertheless, there are some things that we can legitimately desire to have in abundance. At the beginning of this new year, it might be worthwhile to look at a few of these, perhaps recording them in our journal (or wherever) as goals to pursue. In his letters to various churches, Paul prays for or exhorts toward an abundance in at least these five areas:
1) An abundant HOPE, that is, an unwavering confidence in the promises of God. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).
2) An abundant CONTRIBUTION, not necessarily financially, but in two ways.
First, abound in the work of the Lord, that is, your service for Him in every arena of life—home, school, work, church, community involvement. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Second, abound in the building of your local church; that is, using your gifts and abilities to serve in your church to the end that it helps strengthen the body of believers. …strive to excel (abound) in building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12).
3) An abundant GENEROSITY. This area can involve our money, but it can be more than cash. When Paul writes, But as you excel (abound) in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel (abound) in this act of grace also (2 Corinthians 8:7), he was encouraging the church members in Corinth to share financially with needy Christians in Jerusalem. So we do need to abound in generosity with our financial resources. But we can fulfill the spirit of this exhortation by simply sharing anything we own with someone in need. For example, the back end of my car is filled with coats and clothing that we’ve either outgrown or otherwise replaced, and it’s all headed to a donation center for the poor, rather than holding onto it all for a garage sale or something.
4) An abundant LOVE. Paul prays for the Philippian church that their love may abound more and more, with knowledge and discernment, so that [they] may approve what is excellent (Philippians 1:9-10). Note that the love he’s wanting is not a mere emotional sentimentalism, but an informed love that will focus on the right, best things.
5) An abundant GRATITUDE. To the church in Colossae, Paul exhorts, Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7). To another church, he clarifies, …give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Easier said than done, isn’t it. Which is why it makes a good “growth goal” for this new year! 2015 will certainly bring with it both good times and bad, comfortable and not so much. An abundant gratitude will be able to express thanks through them all.
So, for God’s glory, our good, and the benefit of God’s people, pray and pursue abundance in 2015.