November 18, 2017

The Abundant Life

By Dan Madrigal

It seems all too clear that the vast majority of our society has very little knowledge of what a meaningful life is. Living life meaningfully is one of the most important facets of living a successful life. Most people really want to be successful, and most people want meaning in their lives. The problem is that most of these same people haven't found meaning in life and don't know what true success is.

Jesus spoke about the abundant life in Matthew chapters 13 and 25. He essentially says the same thing in both of these passages, "and he shall have abundance. " Contrary to popular use by some people, Jesus wasn't necessarily promising an abundance of material riches. The abundance that he had reference to here refers to a life that is rich in meaning and satisfaction. The truly successful person will be the one who has lived life in a satisfying and meaningful way. Those who eventually commit suicide, in most cases, act out of despair. They don't know who or what they are.

It is no wonder that people eventually despair of life in an age where every generation is being raised on the false theory that they are the product of evolution. Common sense, and an innate knowledge of God ultimately lead to an inner conflict of the soul, which leads to further unhappiness. Paul put it this way, "because that, knowing God, they glorified Him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened" (Rom. 1:21). Ultimately, knowing one's purpose in life becomes central to happiness. This becomes very difficult when you give up God, and accept the false idea that you evolved from apes or slime. Pondering the meaning and purpose of life without consulting what God and his word say about the subject is dangerous and strikes at the center of man's unhappiness and loneliness. Without a clear and definitive answer that gives "eternal" hope, most people will end up in despair. The result is psychological suicide. The unfortunate reality is that many people are more consistent and resort to physical suicide as well. This may partly explain why so many thrust themselves into a busy lifestyle. If our society is not busy with work, there are always many things to keep our minds busy. Is it no wonder that entertainers such as "movie stars" and "star" athletes are valued so highly and paid so lucratively? Entertainment, in this way, becomes a drug in which this society become innocuous to the pitiful and hopeless state it finds itself in. What a waste! Paul said it best, "Professing themselves to be wise they became fools" (Rom. 1:22).

Therefore, for a godless society, happiness is defined by how successful materially one is. The race for worldly success begins early in life, as children are guided into "the" career, and learn by the example of their parents or other adults. Today, little girls are made to believe that to be a complete person as an adult she will have to get into the fast track and enter a competitive career. Usually we hear people speak about the "unfulfilled" housewife in this connection. Yet, the real issue is not the housewife who is unfulfilled, but people in general who are unfulfilled. Increasingly, women are beginning to realize that although they are not housewives, but in their choice career, they are still "unfulfilled, " and are thus returning to the home. It is not a problem exclusive to women, but to all people who don't know who they are, where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.

Those who have obeyed the gospel understand that living life meaningfully comes with seeking God. Unfortunately, far too many "Christians" fail to continue with the same single-minded approach to life. It is not uncommon to find Christians putting just as much emphasis on human worldly success in order to achieve some measure of satisfaction and meaning in life. This is truly sad, for Christians are the very ones who are to show the world how happy, content, and fulfilled we are. Sometimes people just simply forget who they are. Jesus said that the Christians are to be "fruit bearers." Just as Jesus condemned the barren fig tree (Matt. 21:19), so he will condemn the Christian who fails to bear fruit. Actually, I personally believe that this parable provides us with a better understanding of what it means to truly and honestly be fulfilled individuals. If a fig tree had feelings, and could reason, consider how it would feel if it understood that its purpose was to bear figs, but for some reason it wasn't. Can you imagine the utter dissatisfaction and helplessness it would create every time someone came along seeking sustenance from its branches?

It is therefore my contention that to live a satisfying and meaningful life we should be viewing ourselves as fruitbearers. There are so many people in this world seeking sustenance, and we have what they need. The gospel! Far too many of us are not letting ourselves bear fruit to the world. Consequently, many Christians are unhappy, and don't feel the sense of meaning in their own lives that comes with accepting God. Far too often we urge brethren to do personal work because its needed, and because God expects it of us. Yet, I think it much more useful to emphasize the fact that "fruit bearing" is a necessity in order for the Christian to truly achieve a meaningful and purposeful life. The problem that has arisen in our culture is that the prescription the world relies on for satisfaction and contentment has been adopted by Christians. It is becoming the norm to find Christians pursuing their careers with just as much vigor as those in the world. There additionally seems to be just as much patronage to the arts (i.e., Hollywood, TV, etc.) by brethren as there is by heathen. This is not to suggest it to be wrong to pursue a career, or to go to a movie, but when there is emphasis upon these for the pursuit of happiness, in a primary way, rather than upon our God, that pursuit is lopsided. A manifestation of this fact is seen when Christian women take jobs not because the family needs a second income but to achieve some sort of meaning and purpose in life. This is also manifested in a similar way when a Christian retires from the labor force and has to return, not out of financial need, but out of boredom. Brethren, when will we realize that if we are a Christian we can't be bored and there is always work to do and fruit to reap. Let meaning and purpose in your life come from where God intended it to come: from him. In the end, we will have found fulfillment and satisfaction in life, will never be bored or in despair, and will truly have an "abundant" life.

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 12, pp. 353, 375
June 20, 1991

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