And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9)
Abounding love is embedded into real knowledge and discernment. Knowledge and discernment create the environment that fosters abounding love. Knowledge is both intellectual and experiential. Discernment is moral sensitivity, based in God’s standards of morality. When we abound in love that is enriched by knowledge and discernment, we experience what matters. We experience life as God intends. When we abound in love, we overflow with love.
Every time I consider abounding love, I remember a visual example used through Outflow by Steve Sjogren and Dave Ping:
“Imagine your life as a fountain—the old-fashioned, four-tiered kind of fountain. God is the source and your heart is the first level of that fountain. God is pouring his blessings into your life—filling you to the brim with his love, hope, and love. Then the moment comes when you are so full that you can’t possibly contain it anymore. Maybe it’s a drip at first—a small bit of hope trickling from your life into someone else’s—but it isn’t long before the water is flowing freely and spilling into the next level of the fountain, and then the next, and the next. God’s love unabated—overflowing from you into the lives of your family, friends, neighbors, community, and the world.”
The care of that center tube of the fountain is critical for good water flow. It’s what carries the water to the top of the fountain and begins to fill it. Without water in the top, no water will overflow onto the tiers below. Likewise, God’s love will not abound in and through us—overflowing into those around us—unless we take care of our relationship with Him. We must pay attention and give intention to the upkeep of our communication. We need to make sure nothing clogs the primary water source. It’s central to our lives.
In order to be vessels for God, we must be willing to be filled. Once we’re filled, we don’t shut off the water main valve. We don’t get filled and say, “That’s enough! I don’t want to waste any!” We waste God’s love when we don’t let it flow through us. We have a constant supply, so we don’t have to worry about running out…unless we turn off the valve and refuse to receive it or give it. If we let it sit for too long because we want to savor it or are frightened it will run out, it will stagnate. God’s love is alive. It remains alive by flowing through others. When it stagnates, it’s becomes tainted or freezes.
From the perspective from the top tier, you can’t really see the totality of the tiers below you. You don’t know for sure what’s happening beyond your tier. It’s the same with God’s love. You don’t control it. You yield to it. You let God make the impact and decide where every drop goes.
There’s a beautiful fountain in an old town square that I walk by every now and then. One day I walked within a few feet of the fountain, and a gust of wind carried a spray of water and showered me. I smiled, thankful that God can use His love beyond the limits of where we expect. He’s got it all under His control. We are simply His vessels.
Dear God, I am your vessel. I am not the source of love; You are. Help me to stay vigilant in the care of our relationship so that You can use me well. I want to strive to be sincere and blameless in my faith journey with You.