A Life That Overflows
God’s blessings won’t be complete in our lives until we’re willing to give what we receive
By Charles F. Stanley
Our fast-paced culture can make it difficult to live generously, which the Lord calls us to do. As life demands more of us at work and in the home, our time becomes increasingly valuable. With so much on our plate, it’s no wonder we can see other people’s needs as unwanted interruptions—something to protect ourselves from instead of welcomed opportunities to help.
This mindset also affects our willingness to give financially. Fears of what could happen in the future prompt us to keep for ourselves any money or goods we have. What if my health fails, or I lose my job? Then I won’t have enough to meet my needs. Added to all this is the instability of our world: terrorist attacks, natural disasters, global conflicts and unrest—the possibilities of what could go wrong are enough to make you lose sleep. But they’re also enough to make you selfish, sometimes without realizing it.
God has a bigger purpose for our lives. When Jesus ascended to the Father, He left His followers on earth to function as His body. We’re His ambassadors, representing Him to a lost world. He didn’t leave us here simply to take care of our own concerns. We are to be about His business.
Jesus summarized His role on earth in Luke 22:27, “I am among you as the one who serves.” Everything He did confirmed this mission—healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, teaching the multitudes, training His disciples, and even raising the dead. But His ultimate act of service was giving His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).
If we’re going to be followers of Jesus, we need His servant spirit. The Christian life was never meant to consist of just an hour or two spent in church on Sunday mornings. It’s supposed to be a continual lifestyle of service—at home, work, school, or wherever you are.
Sharing God’s Blessings
Developing a servant lifestyle is really just a matter of passing on to others the blessings the Lord gives us. This is not simply about giving money. The ways we serve are as varied as the gifts He gives.
Employment: If you’re employed, the Lord has specifically placed you in your workplace to bless those around you. Imagine how Jesus would do your job. Can you see Him showing up late, gossiping during a coffee break, doing halfhearted work, or grumbling throughout the day? Remember, you are His follower and may be the only example of Christ your co-workers will ever see.
Talents and abilities: Maybe you have some specialized skills to share—construction experience, medical training, financial planning, or something else. Even if you don’t feel exceptionally talented, there are still a variety of ways to give of yourself. For example, if you drive, you could give a ride to a neighbor or fellow church member who has no transportation.
Spiritual gifts: The Holy Spirit gives every believer at least one spiritual gift to use for the common good of the church (1 Cor. 12:7). Unless you use it, you’re robbing fellow believers of the benefits God intended for you to provide.
Experiences: The Lord can use every experience we go through, whether negative or positive, to help those who are facing similar situations.
Knowledge and wisdom: Education should never be an end in itself. If God has blessed you with understanding—especially in the area of biblical wisdom and insight—you have a responsibility to share it with others.
Acting According to God’s Blessings
Now that we’ve enlarged our vision of what we can share, let’s look a little deeper. Consider all the wonderful things God has done for you. A responsibility toward others comes with each blessing.
God has saved us (2 Tim. 1:8-9). Before returning to the Father, Jesus gave His disciples these instructions: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Don’t think that this verse applies only to those called to minister in far-off places. Wherever you are, God desires that you share the message of salvation with people around you.
The Lord loves us (John 13:34). Christ’s love for us is so great that He commands us to share it with others. In fact, Peter considered love a priority in the Christian’s life (1 Peter 4:8). This kind of devotion always expresses itself in actions that benefit others.
Christ forgives our sins (Eph. 4:32). Jesus forgave us freely, and that’s exactly the way we’re to forgive others. Just think how gracious and merciful the Lord has been to you; then extend that same grace to those who offend you. There should be no limits to our forgiveness—no matter what was done, who did it, or how often it happened.
God provides for us (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Don’t fall for the world’s philosophy that the goal in life is to accumulate enough to guarantee your security. Riches can quickly vanish. The only way to have a sure foundation is to store up lasting treasure in heaven by giving generously to those in need (Luke 12:33).
The Lord teaches us truth (John 17:17). If you’ve learned anything from the Word of God, you have truth to share with others. You don’t have to be a trained teacher. Simply share with someone else what the Lord has taught you. Although you may feel inadequate, remember that you have a Teacher living within you—the Holy Spirit. He’ll reveal divine truth if you’ll open the Bible with a humble, receptive spirit.
God comforts us in our afflictions (2 Cor. 1:3-7). The Father promises to comfort us in our afflictions, but it’s not supposed to end with us. Our experiences of divine consolation equip us to comfort others. Even if you don’t understand all they’re going through, you can offer a listening ear, an assuring prayer, or a supportive hug.
The Lord encourages us (Rom. 15:5). Following the Lord’s example, we’re called to come alongside those who are struggling. An email, call, or letter could do wonders in lifting the spirits of someone who’s feeling sad or discouraged. Sometimes just letting a friend know that you’re thinking of him goes a long way. Remember, to walk with the Lord is also to walk with one another.
Christ accepts us (Rom. 15:7). Believers are told to “accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us.” This doesn’t mean we have to approve of everyone’s behavior or agree on every issue, but we can still value each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our common ground is the cross.
God admonishes us (Ps. 81:8). At times, we need a warning from the Lord to keep us from going in the wrong direction. And sometimes He wants to use us to deliver a warning to someone else. To say nothing when you see a friend heading down the wrong path is unloving. Perhaps a gentle admonition or a challenging question could cause that person to consider, What does God think about this?
Christ is patient with us (1 Tim. 1:16).Whenever you’re tempted to become impatient with someone else, stop and remember how God has worked in your life. Because maturity is a slow process, the Lord is willing to gradually and painstakingly bring each of us along in our walk with Him. Shouldn’t we do the same for others? Patience says, “I can wait for this relationship to improve, for that situation to change, or for God to work in the life of a loved one.”
The Lord is kind to us (Rom. 2:4). As those who have experienced the riches of God’s kindness, we need to let the Holy Spirit produce this gracious fruit in us as well (Gal. 5:22-23). Do your words and actions display kindness, or do you come across as harsh and demanding? If you let Christ live in you, His kindness will flow through you to others.
God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to someone else. However, if our focus is only on receiving from the Lord, we’ll become like a stagnant pool instead of a flowing stream. Christ wants us to be a channel through whom He can meet the needs of others. We never have to fear that we’ll run dry, because givers always have enough—God delights in continually replenishing their supply.
This week, begin each day by asking the Lord to give you opportunities to serve others. Fight the natural tendency to focus on what you can get, and instead, think about what you can give. Look beyond your own concerns to see the people around you who could use your help or encouragement. Just remember that when you stand before the Lord, He will reward you for what you gave, not for what you got.
Do you know God? While giving is a key part of a life of blessing, there's one priceless gift from the Lord that you have only to receive. Discover the first step here.