In recent years much has been taught in the church on the topic of abundant living. Thankfully the children of God are awakening to the fact that godliness does not mean taking a vow of poverty.
The extreme notion of self-denial and taking a vow of poverty began during the dark ages when the word of God was removed from the hands of the laymen and religious orders, including the monks and nuns, began to arise. The idea that spirituality requires taking a vow of poverty has done incredible damage to the advancement of God's kingdom because it has its origin in Gnosticism. Gnosticism is the pagan philosophy that the spiritual world cannot be tainted with secular pursuits, such as science, law, commerce, government, or in this case, money. This compartmentalization of our spiritual life trapped the church in a world that is controlled and managed by the ungodly. The truth is that Jesus is the LORD of everything, including money (Jn. 18:36-37).
The extreme opposite view, that God wants you to drive a new Caddy, live in a plush mansion, and enjoy the niceties of life continuously is as dangerous as Gnosticism because it is also based on a half-truth. The so-called "prosperity" gospel has had a devastating effect on countless Christians who were taught that their spirituality justified their excessive appetite for the things of this world.
So what is the truth about abundant living? Perhaps the best definition that I have heard of true prosperity is learning "the secret of being content in every situation" (Phil. 4:12) This deals with the root issue, having a content heart.
Abundant living requires a balanced perspective on money. Money is a tool, not an end it itself. Money is the fruit of our labor that is to be stewarded for the kingdom with great diligence. Money is not evil unless it is used to promote evil. Jesus promised us an abundant life, overflowing with His presence, power and passion. The key to walking in abundance is to learn the lost art of contentment. Contentment does not mean apathy or slothfulness. God wants us to serve Him with contentment, regardless of our financial condition. Let's learn from our Master -- that while He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He was content to come into this world and to leave this world in the humblest of settings. While He dined with kings, His life was given for the lowliest. True abundance begins on the inside and is never excessive on the outside.