Monday, 6 August 2012
THE PARADOX OF ABUNDANCE
Is the abundant life which Jesus promises one of material blessing and prosperity?
Jesus who promises an abundant life * (John 10:10) also warns against greed, citing that “a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).
So is abundance a desirable goal or not? The above statement seems like a paradox.
But the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10 is that which is filled with meaning, purpose and fulfillment:
“Jesus claims that he came that men might have life and might have it more abundantly. The Greek phrase used for having it more abundantly means to have a superabundance of a thing. To be a follower of Jesus, to know who he is and what he means, is to have a superabundance of life. When we try to live our own lives, life is a dull, dispirited thing. When we walk with Jesus, there comes a new vitality, a superabundance of life. It is only when we live with Christ that life becomes really worth living and we begin to live in the real sense of the word.” (Excerpt from Barclay's Daily Study Bible).
Now please do not misunderstand. God is not niggardly. He wants to abundantly bless His children – and often materially as well (Psalms 103:1-5). But we cannot arm-twist God and insist that He blesses us materially. We should not treat Him like the genie of Aladdin’s lamp for He is not our servant but the sovereign Almighty.
If He so chooses to financially bless us in abundance, that is an added bonus. In other words, God does not promise that we will live in mansions or be driven around in limousines (Habakkuk 3:17-18, Hebrews 11:36-38).
If foxes have holes but Jesus has nowhere to lay His head, if Jesus chose to ride on a colt into Jerusalem, how can believers claim that it is their inalienable right to live in mansions and be driven around in limousines?
Now it is not wrong to possess riches. The danger is that riches consume – and possess us – instead.
Wealth is like a two-edged sword. With great wealth comes great responsibility. How many people can handle great wealth? Many get mesmerised by the gifts rather than the Giver.
Joseph, who became the Prime Minister of Egypt, could handle great wealth for he did not succumb to greed, pride or sexual immorality. But how many modern-day Josephs are there?
That’s why the Psalmist enjoins us, “If riches increase, do not set your heart on them” (Psalm 62:10). It’s so easy to be bedazzled by the gleam of riches that we lose our upward focus.
Paul also exhorted the rich “not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God … to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:17-18).
The best panacea against pride and hoarding, the twin dangers of wealth, is to be channel of blessing. We are blessed that we might be a blessing.
The focus of the Christian life is not what we can get in terms of material prosperity.
The cross, instead, should be central in the life of a believer.
Jesus challenged those who want to be His disciples: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
* “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
DOES GOD WANT US TO BE RICH?
HOW TO ATTAIN FINANCIAL FREEDOM
BIBLICAL INSIGHTS ON FINANCIAL PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT