Last week we touched on love and how our love for others must flow from the love of Christ. This week we catch a glimpse of another kind of overflow.
Picture this: A lecturer always walks into class with only the knowledge that he acquired during his undergraduate studies. This means that all the information he relays to students from different classes is the same. There is nothing new. He doesn’t know about how far the subject matter has come since he graduated many years ago. He doesn’t know of any research that has been conducted. He only goes back to the books or to his fellow lecturers to look for an answer if a student asks a question that he cannot answer, which is many a time. If we were asked to describe the lecturer, some would say that he is: incompetent, lacking dedication in his work, working for the money and not for the love of the area of study, complacent, not diligent, etcetera.
Now, let’s take the same situation but in a Christian context. There is a guy with a pulpit (a pastor, singer, poet, writer, bible study leader, emcee, evangelist, etc). He isn’t diligent, doesn’t study his bible to show himself as a good workman, rightly dividing the word of truth (2nd Timothy 2:14-16). He ‘does his thing’ and if, perchance, someone happens to ask a question that he cannot answer, that is when he goes back to look for what the word says about it. But after that, he is back to his normal routine. His is a typical case of reversed order: the pulpit takes him to the word instead of the word taking him to the pulpit. He can easily fit into the description that we gave the lecturer.
You Can Only Pour Out What You Have
Last year I was part of 200 voices Nairobi. It is a weekend-long gathering that involves a worship conference on Friday and Saturday then culminates in a concert on Sunday. (This year it runs 06th through 08th April at Nairobi Chapel Ngong Road. You’re welcome to attend). During last year’s worship conference, Pastor Banda from Crossroads Mombasa addressed the reverse order, that is, the pulpit driving you to the word instead of the other way round. While searching scripture because of ministry isn’t wrong, it cannot be our only reason. In James 1:23-25, James contrast a person who hears/ reads the word and follows through with what it says to someone who hears/ reads but doesn’t follow through. It points to the reason why we ought to be reading/ hearing/ studying scripture, which is so that we may continue in it. This word which is spirit and life, sharper than any double-edged sword is meant to transform us. If we look to it only to tell others what it says, then we might end up with a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (2nd Timothy 3:5). This word isn’t just for knowledge. This knowledge should be applied. It should graduate to understanding and wisdom. This bread of life must be nourishing us daily so we can share it out of an overflow. After all, you can only pour out that which you already have in you and you don’t have to be full to the brim to overflow.
This is for all of us who are alive and Christians, not just for those on the public stage. Studying the word must kick-start a transformative work in us first. It is for our edification first, before it is a tool used in the Great Commission. Even then, it is to be shared for the edification of any listener, whether your small bible study group, a younger sibling, a stranger on the road who will give their life to Christ or the congregation at your local gathering as you lead praise and worship or preach. This word must also be shared according to Christ’s commission of us to make disciples. You do not have to be perfect in knowledge, lacking in nothing before you can share. All you have to do, like the Samaritan woman by the well, is to drink of the living water that you may thirst no more. in so doing, you will also overflow.