Pastor Nick Cleveland

Have you ever been tricked when opening a gift? That happened to our son this Christmas. He started with a large box, which he was excited about, but as he kept opening each box, one at a time, he ended with a very small wallet sized box. His facial expressions were priceless. You could tell he was fighting discouragement until he opened the final box and found the gift he wanted…Taco Bell and iTunes gift cards! He immediately handed them to me and said, “Dad protect these!” Best part? He offered to use his gift card at Taco Bell to pay for his siblings to get something too. He shared what he was given. He didn’t keep it for himself.

His response is not natural for any of us. Our natural tendency is to keep and hoard for ourselves, which actually creeps into our faith journey too. We want to know more, grow more, experience more, and we want to keep it. If we’re not careful, we treat our spiritual growth like our stuff.

In the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul walks us through an understanding of salvation and how God graciously offers it to us. God gives us more than we deserve. And what do we naturally want to do with the more He give us?

We want to store it. When God blesses us, we learn more about Him, experience growth and are filled. We want more information, more knowledge, more services, more studies, more books and more podcasts. But if we only store it, we become spiritual hoarders.

God has a different plan. Beginning in chapter 12, Paul shifts from understanding salvation to responding to it. He wants to give us more, because…

God wants us to pour it out. The “more” God has in store is not for us, it’s for others. Our growth was never intended to be just for us, it’s intended to be for the benefit of others.

Paul goes on and describes in very practical terms what it looks like to live as a sacrifice and pour out the more God has given us. He lists 25 straight axioms (short punches of truth). He begins his list in verse 9 by giving the one that all the others flow out of, “Love must be sincere.” (Romans 12:9-10)

Literally he says love must be authentic and without hypocrisy. Don’t fake it. Don’t be like the actor hiding behind a mask rehearsing lines from a script. Love sets the tone for our life. Love requires action for the sake of others. You can’t store the more for yourself. You must pour the more for the sake of another.

How can you empty yourself and fill others today?

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