1 John 4:18-19
Last week we talked about that self examining question "Am I walking with
God?" and about that inner joy and peace that comes with that walk.
We also talked about the fact of God being a holy and righteous God, and that God cannot permit a sinful person in His presence; yet at the same time He is a loving and merciful God who reaches out to all sinners in the hope of bringing them to repentance. And when we do truly repent, He is faithful to be there and receives us with open arms.
Today we are going to look at one of the signs, or character traits, of those who are walking with God, as well as those who are struggling to do so. Those who are walking with God seem to overflow with the joy of the Lord.
Hence, the title of today’s sermon: "Christians Are Made for Pouring."
Yes, Christians are made for pouring. We are to pour out to others the unconditional love of God, and the good news that has been revealed to us, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we start to do this, but fear holds us back, and the living water within us freezes solid, and we become as a block of ice.
Unfortunately, others also see this character trait in us, but they usually don’t recognize the fear that caused it. They just see us as hard and cold people.
Perhaps the radiance of others will melt some of that ice; but even then, the living water is usually but a puddle around an ice cube. It’s there, but it does little good, and eventually everything just evaporates.
And as a result, the world remains in its present corrupted state with its billions of suffering animals and millions of suffering humans.
Is this the way God wants us to live?
No; Christians were made for pouring out, and not for freezing.
It is probably most appropriate here to mention a Bible verse that answers the real root problem of this condition. In 1 John 4:18, it says:
18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
Why should we be perfected in love? Verse 19 answers that question:
19. We love, because He first loved us.
Some of us hear the good news, believe, and become as balloons; for we seek
only the physical gifts of the Spirit and not the whole of God. Then perhaps
one day someone sticks a pin in us, and we explode and come all apart.
No; Christians are made for continuously pouring out, and not just for a one time bang.
And sometimes we are like the previous example. We get all puffed up in some specific gift of the Spirit, and then one day someone lets go of us because we've become somewhat boring, and we just sort of go crazy, sputtering and flying off all around the room.
When we're like this, we're no better than an untied balloon that someone has let go of. And then in a few moments there is nothing left of us but a shriveled hulk. We feel defeated; and that's not what God wants.
When we get like this, we just sort of lie around waiting for someone to take pity on us and blow us up again. Unfortunately, when this happens we usually just end up in the same condition again. We must first seek the Kingdom of Heaven, not just a manifestation.
See, when we're a balloon person, others very soon realize it. They recognize us as being full of' "hot air" and covered with "synthetic rubber." To walk with God, we can't be synthetic; we must be real.
No; Christians are not made to be “air heads” or puffed up in their own pride; they're made for continuous pouring.
Note that I'm saying that Christians are made for continuous pouring.
And if we are made for pouring, then it is only logical to assume that Christians are also made for continuous refilling as well.
That's true; we are. But, being made for continuous pouring and refilling is not the same as being in that condition.
See, in order for this to happen, we also must be willing to receive and to give. Willing to receive Jesus Christ in our hearts with all the unconditional love we will ever need, and willing to give what we have received to others.
This unconditional love also allows us to feel the pain and suffering of the whole of God’s creation, and we desire to do everything in our power to free it and every other living being from the corruption that has been inflicted upon it.
And if we are not willing to be both receivers and givers, we run the risk of becoming ice cubes and old balloons.
As we read in the Epistle lesson for today, in Romans 5:5, the infilling and refilling we receive is "...because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
The key word here is "love"; God’s love. His love is boundless.
It has no end.
He will continuously pour His love into us until there is no room for more. Then the only way we can receive more is to pour some of it out to others, and then a very remarkable condition occurs. No matter how much of God's love we pour out upon others, we seem to be just as full as before, and usually even fuller.
When we share God's love with others, our hearts become larger, in a spiritual sense, and we can hold even more than before.
I believe that all of us want to be loved, but some of us are afraid to show it because we're afraid it won't be real and we'll be hurt.
But, God tells us in Leviticus 19:18 that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Yes, sometimes our neighbors will fail us, just as we may also fail them. It’s not failed love or human love that we’re talking about; it’s God’s love. And His love will never fail us.
Furthermore, God’s love does not favor any individual human; it extends to every human and animal upon the earth and to the environment in which we all live.
The more of His love we are able to receive, the less likely it is that we are going to fail someone else.
And the only way we are going to be able to receive more of God’s love is to continuously pour it out to others.
How do we do this? Our Gospel lesson for today told us some of the ways we should pour out God’s love to others. (Matthew 25:31-46)
31. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with
Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
32. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
33. and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35. ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;
36. naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
We should feed those who are hungry and thirsty.
We should provide for those who are homeless and lack proper clothing.
We should visit those who are sick and/or in prison.
And as part of this unconditional love, we should be peacefully working to free all the suffering animals that have been subjected to human cruelty and exploitation on factory farms, in slaughterhouses, laboratories, entertainment, and all other forms of human exploitation of animals.
For we and others cannot be filled with God’s love and do these things to any other living being, or contribute to it with our money.
So for the sake of our discussion today, let’s assume that we’ve done all of these things as righteous individuals.
37. “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry,
and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38. ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
39. ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
40. “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41. “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
42. for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;
43. I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
44. “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’
45. “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
46. “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In Matthew 25:45, Jesus says: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you
did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
And most importantly, we have been entrusted with a very precious gift from God: His Word, the Bible, and the stewardship of the whole of His creation.
And we are told that we, each of us, are responsible for spreading that Good News. The only way we are going to be able to do this is to read our Bibles every day. We should read the Bible in such a way as to be able to read every word in it at least once a year.
Just as we are not to shy away from the compassionate teaching of the Bible, we are not to shy away from the suffering of the animals as most of the world does.
See, when we are built up in God’s Word, God’s love also builds up within us; and we will find it increasingly easier to share that love with others.
Jesus Christ showed the greatest love ever when He died for each of us.
Who are we not to accept so great an expression of love?
And if you are not sure you completely understand what He's done for you, or desire to know Him in that very special personal way that only God can show us, then reach out to Him. Call upon His name. He is always faithful to answer.
It has always been my pleasure to share with you the love God has given me.
And if you have received it, don’t hoard it; give some of it to others, and we’ll all be blessed to overflowing.