Abounding

Sunday, September 23, 2018

There are a number of Greek words in the New Testament that are translated into English by the word “abound.” Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible gives their meaning as “to be, become, make more; to be multiplied,” or “to be over and above.”  The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word to mean “exist in large numbers or amounts.”  

Solomon said, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings” (Prov. 28:20a). This reminds me of what David said, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68:19). In the New Testament, we are told that God's saints are blessed with “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). Do you enjoy this abundance of blessing or benefits from the Lord? Let's look at some of the things we, as Christians, are to “abound” in.

Paul told the Romans, “Now the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13). Thus, our hope is “to become multiplied” it is to be “over and above.” This is the “one hope” of Ephesians 4:5; it is the hope that serves as an “anchor for the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Heb. 6:19). Do you abound in hope?

To the “saints in Christ Jesus” at Philippi, Paul prayed, “that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Phil. 1:1, 9). If our love is “over and above,” then we will “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  We will also “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37-39). Love that abounds will be love that is not “love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). In fact, this abundant love will both cause us to “Love the brotherhood” and “Love your enemies” (I Pet. 2:17; Matt. 5:44). In I Thessalonians 3:12 Paul writes, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.” Do you abound in love?

The Christian characteristics, sometimes called “Christian graces,” are listed by Peter in II Peter 1:5-7. After listing these and showing that we are to “add” or “supply” these things in our lives as Christians, he then states, “For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 1:8). It is not enough to just have “enough to get by” of virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity; we are to “abound” in them. We are to have them in our lives “over and above.” An abundance of these traits will make the requirements of the Christian life much easier to obey. “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (II Pet. 2:9). Peter urges us to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10). Do you abound in these Christian traits?

It seems clear from just a brief survey of this word's usage in the Bible that Christians are never to be satisfied with the “status quo.” We should never try to “just get by.” This seems to indicate that one can never have “enough” of these things so that we can just rest or cease working to improve. In fact, Paul seems to give a summary of our responsibility to “abound” in at least a couple of Scriptures. First, in I Thessalonians 4:1, he wrote, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” It seems to this writer that Paul is telling us that we are to “abound more and more” in everything that teaches us “how ye ought to walk and to please God.” And then in II Corinthians 8:7, he writes, “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing.” He then names some of the things in which they abounded: “in faith, and utterance. and knowledge, and in all diligence.” He then urges them to “see that ye abound in this grace also.” “This grace” is the grace of giving as God commands us. Do you abound in giving? In every thing?

Paul M. Wilmoth