Living the abundant life doesn't mean God wants to make you rich

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Many singles are confused about what living the abundant life means.

The idea comes from a statement by Jesus found in John 10:10, in the King James Version of the Bible:

"The thief cometh 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."

Was Jesus talking about money? Did he mean that people who follow him will enjoy material wealth?

That's what some preachers will lead you to believe. They're teaching that if you obey God, he will bless you with all the material things you want. Sometimes they call it "God's favor."

So why was Jesus poor?

You won't find one verse in the Bible that says Jesus of Nazareth was materially rich. You will, however, find plenty of verses that tell us to imitate Christ--to model our lives on his.

Jesus was the perfect human being, the standard that all Christians aspire to. The Bible repeatedly tells us that God wants to conform our character so that it resembles his Son.

Does that mean that living the abundant life by having a lot of money is wrong?

Here's the key: Being rich doesn't necessarily mean that God is smiling on you. Many rich people are completely godless.

Jesus was poor because he focused exclusively on doing his Father's will. Making and increasing money takes time and effort. In most cases, the more money you have, the more time and effort you have to put into it.

That's why Jesus said we can't serve two masters, God and money. There simply isn't enough time to do both, and even if there was, we'd be giving money equal status with God, which is always wrong.

What does this have to do with being single?

To many singles, living the abundant life means succeeding in their career and having status symbols to prove it. If you don't have love and affirmation from a spouse, you may try to get it by impressing others with your worldly success.

Personally, I've noticed that parents like to brag about their children's success, and that often centers around wealth and achievements. But what if you're not rich and haven't stood out in your career?

Parents can fall into the worldly trap of equating success with living the abundant life. After all, how many parents brag that their son or daughter is a devoted follower of Jesus?

You get my point.

What Jesus actually meant

Jesus never said that being rich is an infallible sign that God approves of you. On the other hand, he did say that being poor doesn't mean that God is cursing you.

When he talked about living the abundant life, he was speaking spiritually. He was talking about God's grace, mercy, acceptance and love. After all, those are the things that last through eternity, not money.

We're to lay up "treasures" in heaven, he said, where moths can't destroy them and they can't rust away. We do that by following Jesus' example.

One of the dangers for singles is that many of us are trying to prove something. We're trying to get our self-esteem from somewhere other than God.

Living the abundant life despite appearances

When a person is spiritually wealthy--behaving as Jesus wants us to--it's not always outwardly obvious that they're "rich" inside. Contrary to old paintings, no one walks around with a halo over their head, even saints.

With spiritual maturity comes wisdom, that invaluable ability to discern between what is true and what is not. The spiritually mature person sees through status symbols and realizes that God is not impressed by them.

That's really what it comes down to: whether we're concerned with trusting in God or trusting in money.

This is a matter of attitude, a desire to put God above everything else, and also the ability to appreciate the wealth God does give his followers in peace of mind, confidence, inner joy, and love. Many rich people never find those things. Many poor people do.

Sometimes, when we put God first, our finances prosper, but that isn't always the case. Some of the most committed Christians are also among society's poorest people.

We shouldn't love and obey God because we're expecting a financial payday. We should love God for himself, for his mercy and grace, and for the fact that he loved us first. It's difficult at first, very difficult, because we're still worried about what others think. But this is a beautiful secret between you and God.

Once you get your attitude about God right, you'll discover that living the abundant life is possible whether you're rich or poor.

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