Abounding More and More
August 21, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
One of Paul’s favorite words to describe the goodness and effect of the gospel is “abound.” Our English translations, though, don’t always translate Paul’s Greek word the same way every time. Let me highlight how Paul uses this word “abound.”
In Romans 5:15 Paul says, “The grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.”
In Romans 15:13 Paul prays that the Roman church would “abound in hope [by the power of the Holy Spirit].”
While teaching about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 14:12, Paul emphasizes a greater priority, “strive to excel [abound] in building up the church.”
While teaching on tithing, Paul commands the Corinthian church to abound in giving. “But as you excel [abound] in everything-- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you-- see that you excel [abound] in this act of grace also” (2 Cor. 8:7).
In Ephesians 1:8 Paul says that God has abounded his grace upon us (ESV: lavished his grace).
In Philippians 1:9 Paul prays “that your love may abound more and more,” and in 1 Thessalonians 3:12 he prays similarly, “may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.”
And then in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 & 10, Paul commands the church to abound in pleasing God and loving one another. Verse 1: “We ask and urge you… that you do so [abound] more and more.” Verse 10: “We urge you to do [abound] this more and more.”
Why is this word “abound” so important to Paul?
1. It magnifies the greatness and abundance of God’s grace in the gospel. God’s grace doesn’t barely cover our sin. It doesn’t meet our need with nothing left over. God’s grace abounds. God lavishes it on us. It is more than sufficient. Never be content with a small and limited view of God’s grace.
2. It emphasizes the power of the gospel to bring new life. God’s grace received by faith brings renewal. To minimize that renewal is to minimize the gospel. That’s why Paul prays that the saints would abound in hope and in love and in pleasing God. Paul is able to command and pray for us to abound because the gospel, rightly believed by the power of the Spirit, produces the abounding. Never be content with un-abounding life in Christ.
3. It becomes a means to witness to the goodness of Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 4:12 Paul completes the sentence he started in verse 10 with the command to abound more and more in love for one another. He gives the purpose for such a command. He says, “so that you may live properly before outsiders.” Paul is concerned that the church’s love would abound so that she would be faithful in her witness to “outsiders.” How do we speak about the gospel that abounds when we do not show evidence of that abounding in our lives? Never be content with a self-centered desire for an abounding life.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”