I am a guy whose natural inclination is to excess. I know you’d never guess that by looking at me.
By the grace of God, I married someone very thrifty… which is particularly important when you’re raising a large family. If she goes shopping, she tends to buy exactly what she expects she will need. If I go shopping, I tend to buy an extra of everything.
Those are our tendencies, though we have both been moderated somewhat by life’s practicalities. This is a very good thing.
But there are times when I realize that my wiring that makes me want to make sure there are at least two steaks for everyone (even when I know some will barely eat a half of one) is put there as a reminder. It points me to one of those ways I am like my Father.
Of course, here I am speaking of God and not my dad—though my dad is also bent kind of the same way. We want you to have way more than you need.
There are several times in Paul’s letters in the New Testament that he uses a word that fascinates me. In 1 Thessalonians 3, he identifies it as one of his prayer objectives:
“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.”1 Thessalonians 3.11-12
He prays that God will reunite them. That’s simple enough.
But he prays that God will cause them to “increase and abound in love.” There’s the word I’m talking about, “abound.” It’s translated a number of ways in the New Testament, but they all point to the idea of an overflow of supply. It’s the opposite of lacking. It means plenty, excess… MORE than enough.
The apostle here expresses his heaven-sent desire that they would be overflowed with a God-originated love.
But notice the target of that love. He said, “for one another and for all.” He prayed that God would overflow them with love for each other and for the world around them. His desire is that they would be, each and every one of them, like a spillway or conduit of God’s love.
I wonder what it looks like when God so pours His love into His children that it overflows and splashes and sprays on everyone around them. I can’t help but think that this is truly God’s desire, to so overwhelm and overflow our hearts that His love floods the room in which we stand, the city in which we reside, the very nation of our sojourn.
So… what’s the hold-up. What could possibly hinder such a thing if it is God’s desire?
Like a pipe, we have to be open to receive it. The things that get in the way of the openness of our hearts would be things like resentment, immaturity, and selfishness. And the only way we really contribute is to make ourselves available, to lean into the outpouring of God’s love.
I know there are people who are less easy to love than others. I realize that some people don’t even want to be loved. And many, many people these days totally misunderstand the self-sacrificing, all-in kind of love that God produces within his people.
Like Paul, I find myself praying more and more that God would do this thing in you and in me—that the supernatural supply of genuine love in us would never run short, but always overflow our lives.
His great love is always more than enough.
Father, pour out Your love on me, in me, through me, and all around me. Do it in such a way that anyone who notices anything about my life would see that it is so incredibly obvious that You are at work in me. Teach me deeply and profoundly that Your love is ever and always more than enough.