Overflowing Lives

Many of the verses of Scripture that I memorized as a child were not due to diligence on my part, but on hearing them quoted at me frequently. When I would try to wriggle out of reprimand saying that what I said was not that bad because I was only kidding, the verse that I heard was, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mat 12:34). It was quite a while before I understood that the ‘abundance of the heart’ meant that whatever the heart was filled up with, is what would spill out of the mouth. Newer translations use the word ‘overflow.’

It only makes sense that what a container is filled up with, is that which will spill out when jostled. What we need to look at is what our containers are filled with. One of the qualities of a container overflowing is that anything near said container is going to get a taste of what is overflowing.  Imagine someone walking through a very crowded room with two buckets that were continually overflowing with water.  Everyone would be getting wet that got anywhere near. Now imagine the buckets filled with vinegar, or acid. People are still going to get wet, but nothing good will come of it.  Another way we commonly use the term overflow is when a river overflows its banks.  Everything around the river gets saturated. Paul uses the word ‘overflow’ regarding several different qualities, all of them good. Other translations use the word ‘abound.’ Both words mean more than enough. The first one sets up the reason or the means of all the others.

Romans 5:15, “But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.”

Here, God’s gift to us in Christ is His grace, and it is overflowing.  Many will be gotten ‘wet’ by the overflow of grace.  None of the other qualities that should be overflowing from our lives is possible unless we have been affected by that abundance of God’s grace.

Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Paul prays here for us specifically that we overflow with hope.  Anyone coming near us will be splashed with hope.  But if you look to the beginning of the sentence, he is praying that the God of hope will fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him.  So how do we get to be overflowing with hope.  First the source is God, because He is the GOD OF HOPE.  Then, as we trust in Him, the God of hope will fill us with joy and peace, SO THAT we may OVERFLOW WITH HOPE. God will fill us with JOY AND PEACE, and then HOPE will OVERFLOW. This by itself could keep us quite busy for a while.  But Paul keeps adding qualities that we should be overflowing with.

2 Corinthians 4:15, “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 9:12, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” Colossians 2:7, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

As Christians, when we hear that the overflowing of God’s grace is reaching more and more people, it causes THANKSGIVING TO OVERFLOW.  This is not generic thanksgiving, it is first off, overflowing, but secondly the thanksgiving goes to the glory of God.  Our thanksgiving needs to be directed at the source of the grace, and that is God. In the second verse cited above, the people had been generous towards other believers.  But supplying their needs was not the only good to come out of that action.  The recipients were overflowing in thanks to God.  Again, the thankfulness had a destination- God. Colossians 2:7 has a lot going on, which is true of many Paul’s sentences. He is telling us how to live our Christian life.  We are to continue to live in Him in the same way that we initially received Him, i.e. by grace through faith.  And as we continue to live in Him this way, we will be rooted and built up in Him, then we are strengthened in the faith just as we were taught. So, we will have roots, a foundation, we will then be built up, have a building, and then strengthened in faith.  Imagine an ancient oak tree by a river; deep roots, huge trunk and wide spreading branches, or again a castle with deep foundations, high and thick walls.  This is what our Christian life should be like, that is, if we live in Him the same way we came to Him, by faith.  The result of all this will be an OVERFLOWING WITH THANKFULNESS.

Moving on, Philippians 1:26 says, “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” 2 Corinthians 8:2 says, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

Paul in Philippians had been debating the merits of living as opposed to going to be with the Lord.  His conclusion was to remain for their sake, for their progress and joy in the faith.  He was wanting their JOY to be such as that it would, in CHRIST, OVERFLOW.  As Christians, when we progress in the faith, so should our JOY, to such a point as it is overflowing. In 2 Corinthians, Paul is speaking about the grace that God had given the Macedonian churches.  Not only was their JOY OVERFLOWING, but so was the SEVERE TRIAL AND THEIR EXTREME POVERTY. Everything was maxed out.  What was the outcome of these three overflowing conditions?  GENEROSITY welled up like an Artesian well that continually overflows.  So, their JOY was OVERFLOWING, as was their GENEROSITY OVERFLOWING.  This happened in the midst of severe trials and extreme poverty, so our circumstances, severe and extreme, are not an excuse for a lack of JOY or GENEROSITY.

1 Thessalonians 3:12, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as our does for you.”

In Thessalonians Paul says only good about them.  He only adds, “May you do so more and more.”  In this particular verse Paul is asking the Lord to make their love increase and overflow.  First, we could say, “I love the brothers in Christ.” Fine, says Paul, do so more and more.  May our love not only increase, but overflow.  And that not only for the brothers, but for everyone else.   We must enlarge our hearts, and still ask God to increase our love and let it overflow, then again enlarge our hearts, increase our love still more, and let it overflow.

2 Corinthians 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Here Christ’s sufferings are overflowing into our lives.  But there is a point to this, it is so through Christ our COMFORT OVERFLOWS.  Previous to this statement, Paul says in this passage that they are comforted so that they may turn around and comfort others with the comfort they have received.  We are to let the sufferings of Christ flow over us, so that we may be comforted and with our own OVERFLOWING COMFORT, COMFORT OTHERS.  So, in this study of qualities that should be overflowing in our lives, that first proceeds from the GRACE that overflowed from God, we are to be splashing around, getting everyone near us wet to the point of saturation with the overflow of our hearts.  Remember, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks:  What should be splashed around, just to recap: GRACE, HOPE, THANKSGIVING, JOY, GENEROSITY, PEACE, LOVE and COMFORT. 

As David said, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil, my CUP OVERFLOWS.”