What does it mean to abide?
What does it mean to abide in Christ? Perhaps we should start more simply… what does it mean to abide in anything? What is this word, abide? The Greek origin μένω, or menō, translates to “to stay, abide, remain,” so we know that it’s accurate to the origin, but it’s not helping with this question, so let’s look at a dictionary definition for a moment.
Full Definition of ABIDE (Taken from Merriam-Webster)|
1: to wait for : await
3: to accept without objection <will abide your decision>
1: to remain stable or fixed in a state
2: to continue in a place : sojourn
— abid·er noun
— abide by
1: to conform to <abide by the rules>
2: to acquiesce in <will abide by your decision>
Based on the form of the statement “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you,” it’s pretty safe to assume that the ideal english meaning of the word in this case is either “to remain stable or fixed in a state” or “to continue in a place,” which is curiously synonymous with “sojourn,” a word mentioned many, many times in Exodus, both about the Israelites in Egypt, and others that may take their leave amongst them (, , , , , , , , ), and then even more in Leviticus.
Ok, so that was curiously academic. No matter, onward! With abide meaning “to continue in a place,” it’s safe to assume that Jesus was saying, simply, “if you remain in me, and my words remain in you,” or, if you stay in me, and my words are close to your heart, then “ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”
Awesome. We have a blank check! Just remember what Jesus said, and I can get everything I’ve ever wanted! All I have to do is ask! Right?
Not so fast there, brother (or sister)! Think about that definition for a second… His words must stay in you too – it’s not just a matter of ‘remembering’ – it’s also a matter of doing, and living, those words. Just as you can’t stay in a place without being truly present there – nor can Christ’s words ‘stay in you’ without having some sort of effect.
So – if Christ’s words truly abide in you – then your actions, desires and wants will reflect that – and what you ask for, will be within the will of God.
Do you find yourself asking for things that are oft not answered?
23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. (ESV)
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (ESV)
22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” (ESV)
4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. (ESV)
19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. (ESV)
48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. (ESV)
49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (ESV)
3 along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), (ESV)
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. (ESV)
21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (ESV)
9 “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (ESV)