Yesterday, I shared the beginning of Mama's Sunday School lesson on how to live an abundant life. (Click here to read part one) Today, I am sharing part two … pay attention to the last point … it is the one that really got to me.
“Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
One of the main characteristics of someone who understands what it really means to live abundantly would be their willingness to lay down their life for someone else. Of course, Christ is our supreme example of this, but we can see the importance of this type of attitude in our own lives. In order to be able to die for someone else, you must be able to see that they have a need for someone to stand in their place. This cannot be seen if we are constantly focusing on what we see as problems in our own lives. If we are content with where we are, however, we will be able to see the needs of others much more easily. We can also serve the Lord better when we have a sacrificial spirit. Someone who is not totally committed to the work of the Lord, such as to lay down his life for a friend, will have a hard time doing all that the Lord might call him to do. Consequently, if we are not doing all that the Lord has called us to do, we are not really living an abundant life. We must be willing to sacrifice ourselves to be a blessing to others.
2 Kings 4:1-7
“Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? Tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children on the rest.”
The final point we need to look at is obedience. This is certainly a common thread that runs through what we have already talked about. Paul was obedient to the Lord throughout his ministry in all manner of circumstances. The Lord Jesus was obedient even unto the death of the cross. Here in this very practical illustration, we have yet one more example of the connection between obedience and the abundant life. Here we have a lady who is down to nothing and she is about to lose even that. Desperation is an appropriate term, I think.
She cried out to God in search of hope. The reply she received might have seemed foolish, but that was all she had to go on. She obeyed what the Lord told her through Elisha. Because of her obedience, the Lord blessed her. She had an abundant amount of money so that she could pay the people she owed as well as provide the essentials of life for herself and her family. Her obedience yielded an abundant life.
How many blessings do we miss for failure to yield to the command of God? This woman did not know why she was to fill the jars with oil until she had finished. Her instructions were given in pieces. How often do we choose not to obey God because the outcome is not clear or the instructions seem impossible? Perhaps we have never been in a place such as this woman was in; a place where depending on God was all we had. We should not wait until we are on the absolute bottom to begin listening to God. Surely He speaks to us before we get there, we just can't (or won't) hear Him because we are too busy listening to the other noise in our world. Perhaps the only way for some to enjoy the abundant life is to come to a place where they are far too aware of their need for God's hand to sustain their life. Until we see our need to obey God in all points, we will have no idea what Christ meant by us, His children, living abundant lives. John 10:10 will simply be another verse that we don't see as having any real application to our lives.
Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep his commandments:
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
These are only a few points that seem to be a must for a truly abundant life. There is one final passage of scripture that seems to cover all areas of life. The last two verses in Ecclesiastes leave no question about what our lives are to be like. Christ said that we would have abundant life and Solomon sums up how to do that. Solomon was the man who had it all. Whatever life had to offer, Solomon had it. Not only did he have all the material possessions of life, he also had more wisdom than anyone else. It was his wisdom that enabled Solomon to see all the material things of life as mere vanity. To him, they amounted to nothing because they would only be left behind at death. He was also wise enough to know that his wisdom was nothing because whether a person is wise or is a fool, both die the same. What is the point? He wasn't really being negative about life; he just saw things for what they were. Solomon was a man who lived an abundant life. He knew that all is in vain if one does not see the need to fear God and keep His commandments. All that we do shall be judged one day and no amount of fame or fortune or wisdom will make a difference at that time. Are you prepared to stand before the Lord on that day? If you are not, you need to be. At that time, you will be alone. You won't have your husband or wife or mother or father to help you. You will be responsible for yourself. Be sure you are ready. Be found living the abundant life that Christ died to give you when He returns to get you. Claim the promise that has been made to you!
I hope that these words that my Mama wrote so many years ago, probably sometime in the mid 90's, have touched your heart as much as they have mine. Though I didn't read these words until after Mama died, I watched her live them during her years of battling cancer. And for that, I will be forever thankful.