How can we live more fulfilling lives today and for all eternity?
To one degree or the other, most people on earth today live miserable, empty, meaningless lives. There are exciting moments here and there. There is relief now and then. But generally speaking, from birth to death, day in and day out, the majority of humanity lives tough, despondent and desperate lives. This is not what God had in mind when He created human beings.
Jesus Christ said, “The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He came that we might have abundant life now—and later on for all eternity.
You might have heard of the old saying “misery is optional,” and it really is. God did not create human beings to be miserable. Misery comes from wrong choices. Unhappiness is caused by wrong decisions.
Happiness does not depend on possessions
When you consider someone who has the abundant life, one of the words that ought to come to mind is happiness. If someone is living the abundant life, they are truly happy! Proverbs 29:18 is one of the most succinct and concise summations of the abundant life: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” Sometimes we fail and slip up. Then we must repent and receive forgiveness from God and get back on track. But in every situation and in every circumstance, we must try to keep God’s law. If we do that, we are going to be happy and blessed and live the abundant life.
Does that mean we will not have problems? Struggles and difficulties are part of the learning experience and part of building holy, righteous, godly character. Trials and challenges are part of developing endurance and showing God what kind of core values we have. But overall, God intends our lives to be happy and full of joy. That comes about by keeping His law, the Ten Commandments. All ten of them! They are summed up in two great ones—love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul; and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37–40).
When you bring up the subject of the abundant life, most people start thinking about who they are around, where they can travel and what possessions they have—the home, the car, the clothes, the job and the money in the bank. Some have a boat, a second house, a cabin in the mountains, a home on the beach. Others possess a ritzy apartment downtown, an expensive art collection, private club membership, and maybe even a private airplane. When people hear about the rich and the famous, they often look on with envy and say, “Oh, I just want to be like them someday because they really do have the abundant life.” But they really do not have the abundant life!
You can be surrounded by all those things and still be miserable. The only way a person is going to be happy, whether he has a lot or has nothing, is to base his life on God’s law, in the spirit and in the letter. Happiness and the abundant life will follow.
Abundant living is the way of life based on God’s law of love. It comes from within. Happiness does not depend on people, places or things: “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). So do we go to the other extreme and say the more poverty we live in, the happier we will be? The situation we live in is not the determining factor. The deciding factor is if we are obeying God’s law. Does it start from within, from the heart?
Circumstances, people, places and things can add to our happiness—can be contributing factors. But they are not determining factors. The abundant life is not based on what you have or who you know. Some of the happiest people do not have much. On the other hand, there are those who have a lot and are happy and some who have little and are miserable. It all comes down to attitude and outlook—positive or negative: “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart has a continual feast. Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Prov. 15:15–17).
Road map to peace
I have been to dinners in mansions where rich people are sitting around being waited on and the cutlery is the best, the china is the best and the food is the best. But there is no happiness around the table. I have been in other places where the silverware does not match, the plates are a bit cracked, the table is wobbly and the meal was peas, turnip greens, cornbread, iced tea, and homemade berry pie. But the fun, the laughter, and the joy were bountiful! Material possessions only enhance the happiness achieved by obeying God. It comes down to the way we think and what we do with what we are given.
Anyone who leads an abundant life is at peace. The whole world wants peace, but they want peace their way. How do they go about trying to achieve this peace? By political maneuvering, military development and producing lots of wealth—none of which ever brings peace! The only way anybody can ever have peace of mind and the only way the world will ever have peace is found in Psalms 119:165: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” When we obey God and follow Jesus Christ, we think about the Ten Commandments more. We try to keep them with God’s help, and the result is happiness, peace and joy, in our lives and in the lives of anyone else that has that understanding and approach—even whole nations. God gives us our needs and more. We receive unexpected benefits: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psa. 84:11). Anything, spiritual or physical, that would be good for us, God will provide in His time if we walk uprightly and keep on trying to grow and overcome. Sometimes He waits awhile so we can develop more patience, because that is also a part of the abundant life.
Abundant living is built on God’s law, kept through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. This produces the fruits of the spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (Gal. 5:22–23). Look at Micah 6:8: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” All of these qualities are based on God’s commandments.
So what does God require of us in order to be happy? What does He require of us in order to live in peace? What does He require of us in order to enjoy blessings from Him and the abundant life He wants to give to all of us and to all of mankind?
Here is what He requires—do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. That is the way of life rooted in His perfect law. That is truly living life more abundantly!
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