Living In the Overflow
Updated: Apr 11
When I became a Christian at 24 and began studying God's Word, I wondered how it could be possible to love God with all my heart and still love others as He tells us to. I'm an analytical thinker, so you could say this was a bit of a quandary for me. I just didn't see how it was possible to love others without giving up part of my heart in the process. What I didn't understand was that God's love changes everything we know about love. As always, His way of doing things is nothing like the world's ways.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." 1 John 3:16
The world doesn't understand this love. Many refuse to try and understand it because they like the freedom to define what love is for themselves. It's no different than wanting earthly control over any other area of our life. But God's love is different from anything we will ever experience. His love is the purest form of love we will ever know - an unselfish, "I will die for you" kind of love, full of mercy and grace. Jesus is God's love in human form, unhindered by the sin of this fallen world and He showed us the power of that love on the cross. This is the love our souls long to feel and know. That perfect, safe, all encompassing, eternal love that we were created to live in and reflect. It can't be found in earthly things or other people, it will only be found through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The first time I understood the feeling of unconditional love was when I held my first child after she was born. I knew at that moment that I would give my life to protect her. I loved her more than I ever thought possible. When I was pregnant with my second child, I didn't see how I could love another child as much as I did the first, but I did! And then the third as well! It's hard for me to imagine a love greater than the love I feel for my children. But God.
God's love for us is so unfathomable that He was willing to send His only Son to die for the sins of mankind. I can't imagine loving anyone on earth enough that I would be willing to give the life of my child for them, especially if I knew they would never love me in return or perhaps tell me they love me yet never care enough to get to know me. And perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that Jesus willingly bore all the pain and suffering on our behalf - and in the midst of His agony, while he hung dying on that cross, He cried out to God to forgive those who had hung Him there. What kind of love is this? That kind of sacrifice, that kind of forgiveness, would take an indescribable magnitude of love that we can't humanly comprehend. That's the love of God for you and I.
When we each understand for the first time what Jesus did for us personally and the Holy Spirit draws us to a saving faith in Him, we surrender our old life and we are given the amazing gift of a new life in Christ - and most of us are excited and on fire for the Lord at the beginning, but life is life. It's messy and difficult, full of ups and downs, good days and bad days, pain and sadness as well as joy and laughter. There are twists and turns and toilets to be cleaned. If we're not careful, we can allow the things of life - our responsibilities and things that need to be done - to pull us away from our relationship with Jesus. Satan loves nothing more than to distract us from living out God's plan and purpose for our lives.
I love the parable of the sower in Mathew 13. Jesus tells us that the seed sown along the path is like those who hear God's Word and don’t understand it. Satan snatches it away and it's as if they never heard it. The seed sown on rocky ground is like those who hear God's Word and immediately absorb it with joy, but because their faith is undernourished and weak, when difficulties or conflict arise, they fall away. And let's not dismiss the reality that there are many who believe in Jesus but have never placed their faith in Him. I was in that head knowledge boat for quite a while! The seed sown among the thorns is what I have seen far too many times as a pastor's wife - those who hear God's Word, but the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth strangle any effort to live by faith - to live out God's truth in their daily lives. These are those who may go through the motions of church and maybe even Bible Study. They may have a fish magnet on the back of their car and their kids may go to a Christian school, but there's very little evidence of a walk with Jesus in their day to day lives. But then there is the seed sown on the good ground. PTL! These are the ones who not only hear and understand God's truth, they LIVE IT OUT!
When we choose to put God first in our lives, seeking to know Him more fully and live out our faith, He fills us with His love so completely that it begins to overflow from our life into the lives of those around us. When we're living in the overflow of His love, our striving to love others in our own ability ends and the outpouring of His love through us begins. His love is what enables us to see and love others the way He sees and loves them. He gives us a kind of love that’s not natural for most of us, full of mercy and grace. It's an unselfish love that changes our purpose and the dynamics of our relationships, because we want others to experience His love too. Living in the overflow of His perfect love is where a heart for the lost is cultivated. Having a heart to see others come to faith in Jesus Christ is a product of God's love changing the way we love and who we love.
This non stop, self absorbed, tech consumed culture can cause the best of us to choose "survival mode" over "abundance mode." It is so easy to buy into Satan's lie that there are more important things to get done - things that are more beneficial than growing in our relationship with Jesus. And by default, whether we acknowledge it or not, we choose the chaos of this world over the peace our soul is longing for. We can strive to do life on our own, but we will never find the fulfillment we're looking for. We can even try to make up for not growing in our relationship with Jesus by serving at church or doing ministry for Him, trying to love others in our own limited ability, but that only produces exhaustion and frustration. Only Jesus can take our human efforts to love Him with our whole heart and expand our capacity to love others more than we ever thought possible. Loving God with all our heart doesn't take love away from others, it gives us the ability to love them even more!
Our relationship with Jesus is the only thing in this world that we NEED. He is the one who brings order to the chaos and peace to the conflict in our lives - and He is the only one who can bring life to what is dead. I know, because I've experienced new life in Him. I know the power of His perfect love. I have lived through difficult, pain filled, strength draining seasons in life that left me feeling utterly alone and empty - and He breathed new life back into my dry bones through His perfect love for me. A love full of unending mercy and grace. I've seen Him breathe life back into relationships the world would say are "too far gone" through His perfect love poured out in hearts surrendered to Him anew - and His love is still changing lives every. single. day.
The moment you make the choice to place your faith in Jesus Christ, the floodgate to His perfect love opens - and His love is not only a game changer, it's an entire life changer! As we grow in our knowledge of who He is, seeking to love Him with all our heart, we will find that abundant life He came to give us - lived in the overflow of His perfect love.
To know Jesus is to know the power of perfect love.
To love Him with all our heart is to live in the power of His perfect love, unhindered.
Lord, your word tells me that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation are able to separate me from your love, but so often I get caught up in the busy-ness of this life and everything I need to get done and I choose to put so many things in this world before You. Please forgive me for trying to do it all on my own. Please help me to love you more fully and make growing in my relationship with you my priority, so that I can experience the abundant life you came to give me, a life lived in the overflow of your love for me. I know that it is so much better than anything I can do on my own! Thank you for your grace and mercy - and for loving me so perfectly!
"Whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked." 1 John 2:5–6 (CSB)