The sheer power of water is unfathomable. When it is raging, it sweeps away everything before it. It overwhelms, inundates and immerses. Among the repertoire of weather catastrophes, few are more dreaded than a flood. In the past decade we have endured many powerful hurricanes, but in the wake of each, it was the flooding that brought the most sustained destruction, loss and suffering. Floods both large and small are feared because of their irresistible power. For this reason, we have gone to great lengths to control the effects of flooding.
But in the history of the world, floods often had a better reputation. Ancient men, without the means of modern flood control, endured regular cycles of flooding. But these floods were life-giving, nourishing the land so that it might bear food in abundance. The “fertile crescent” was the result of this life-giving overflow of the banks of Middle Eastern rivers as new soil was deposited by the raging waters to renew land wearied by farming. Flooding was often viewed positively in literary imagery as it is today. For example, when we receive help, encouragement, empathy in a time of trial we say we were flooded with love and concern. The Bible also uses the image of overflowing when it speaks in Luke 6 of giving.
… give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38
Jesus also noted that it is “out of the overflow of the heart, that the mouth speaks” – a truth that comes with a warning that whatever floods our hearts will spill over onto those around us. What is it that fills your heart? What is it that spills over onto those around you? What “heart-flood” will overwhelm, inundate and immerse your loved ones, friends, neighbors and even enemies?
Paul, writing to a young Timothy, instructs him carefully in how the church is to care for women facing disaster because of the death of their husbands. More than any other issue of family life, Paul gives detailed instructions for the care of widows. Widows and orphans were the most at-risk members of every ancient society, but God is a “defender of widows and a father to the fatherless” and his people are to “plead their cause” and care for them in their need – not as a substitute for the gospel, but as the overflow of the gospel.
When the gospel is carefully guarded through orthodox teaching, powerful prayer, biblical worship, and accountable leadership it will overflow those banks and result in a flood of intense and intensely practical love for our neighbors — love that provides, love that instructs and love that redeems. Paul’s instructions regarding widows do not constitute a mere social gospel, but set the bar much higher, reflecting the truth later expressed by John that “we love because He first loved us.” When our lives are filled with the deep, deep love of Jesus they will overflow with committed care for “the least of these.” What about you? Is your life in flood stage?
Join us this Lord’s Day, November 11, as we examine 1 Timothy 5:9-16 and consider the practical effects of living a life flooded by grace. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.