In the Bible, in John 10:10 are recorded the words of the Savior when He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Ask any two people their definition of what it means to live an abundant life and their definition may vary depending on their station in life, and more importantly, their understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its teachings. The world for the most part views abundant living as having plenty of money and being able to have the best of everything that money can buy. To so many people, life is but one big continuous party. Those who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have a different outlook as they are taught that their behavior should differ from that of the world. In 1 Peter 4:2-4 are recorded these words:
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.
President Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taught:
To measure the goodness of life by its delights and pleasures and safety is to apply a false standard. The abundant life does not consist of a glut of luxury. It does not make itself content with commercially produced pleasure, the nightclub idea of what is a good time, mistaking it for joy and happiness.
On the contrary, obedience to law, respect for others, mastery of self, joy in service—these constitute the abundant life. (Thomas S. Monson, “In Quest of the Abundant Life”, Ensign, March 1988).
The abundant life is not about how rich a man can become because of his worldly possessions and wealth, but rather how rich a man can become through his faithfulness and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. On one occasion the Savior taught, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). He further taught, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). He used a parable to further emphasize these important truths as recorded in Luke 12:16-20:
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
He then went on to say to His disciples: “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. . . . .therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment” (Luke 12:21-23). Therefore, to truly live an abundant life, a person must stay the course and keep his main focus on spiritual matters of life and not on the natural matters. Some may feel that living a life that is devoted to Christ in accordance with His laws and commands is boring, restrictive, and unproductive. However, the exact opposite proves true. As a person yields to Christ’s perfect will for his life, he ultimately discovers that his life will become more exciting, successful, satisfying, and abundant than he could ever imagine otherwise.
President Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in his message titled “In Quest of the Abundant Life” published in the March 1988 issue of the Ensign magazine, commented individually on the four things which he said constitutes the abundant life – obedience to the law, respect for others, mastery of self, and joy in service.
Concerning “obedience to the law” he taught:
Let us not overlook obedience to the laws of the land. They do not restrict our conduct so much as they guarantee our freedom, provide us protection, and safeguard all that is dear to us.
In our time, when otherwise honorable men bend the law, twist the law, and wink at violations of the law, when crime goes unpunished, legally imposed sentences go unserved, and irresponsible and illegal conduct soars beyond previously recorded heights, there is a very real need to return to the basic justice that the laws provide when honest men sustain them.
One person of wisdom observed, “Laws are the rules by which the game of life is played.” In reality, they are much more; for obedience to law is an essential requirement if we are to be successful in our quest for the abundant life.
Concerning “respect for others” he taught:
Let us learn respect for others if we are to realize the abundant life. Man, by nature, is tempted to seek only his glory and not the glory of his neighbor or the glory of his God. None of us lives alone—in our city, our nation, or our world. There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor’s poverty.
It is an immutable law that the more you give away, the more you receive. You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.
Happiness abounds when there is genuine respect one for another. Particularly to those not yet married I counsel: Those who marry in the hope of forming a permanent partnership require certain skills and attitudes of mind. They must be skillful in adapting to each other; they need capacity to work out mutual problems; they need willingness to give and take in the search for harmony; and they need unselfishness of the highest sort—thought for their partners taking the place of desire for themselves. This is respect. It is part of our quest for the abundant life.
Concerning “mastery of self” he taught:
God made a computer once, constructing it with infinite care and precision exceeding that of the efforts of all the scientists combined. Using clay for the main structure, he installed within it a system for the continuous intake of information of all kinds and descriptions, by sight, hearing, and feeling; a circulatory system to keep all channels constantly clean and serviceable; a digestive system to preserve its strength and vigor; and a nervous system to keep all parts in constant communication and coordination. It far surpassed the finest modern computer and was equally dead. It was equipped to memorize and calculate and work out the most complex equation, but there was something lacking.
Then God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7.)
This is why man has powers no modern computer possesses or ever will possess. God gave man life and with it the power to think and reason and decide and love. With such power given to you and to me, mastery of self becomes a necessity if we are to have the abundant life.
And, concerning “joy in service” President Monson taught:
To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowmen. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.
Each of us can be a leader. We need to remember that the mantle of leadership is not the cloak of comfort, but the robe of responsibility. Perhaps our service is to youth. If so, I caution: “Youth needs fewer critics and more models.” One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of a car we drove, what kind of a house we lived in, how much we had in the bank account, nor what our clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because we were important in the life of a boy or a girl.
Our training, our experience, our knowledge are tools to be skillfully used. They have been self-acquired. Our conscience, our love, our faith are delicate and precious instruments to guide our destiny. They have been God-given.
Christ promises a life far better than any person could ever envision. The words recorded in I Corinthians 2:9 are a gentle reminder of this truth, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” And in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).