This is the third and last of Charles Weber's lecture series,“Living Out of the Overflow” - CHAPTER THREE
The most common inquiry coming from the discussion about living out of the overflow is “how can I live it?” There is no doubt that “how” is an important word, and it ought to be repeated by a minister over and over as he prepares to preach. As I look back on my ministry, I can see that I spent much time telling people what they ought to do. I really didn’t help them much because they already knew what they ought to do.
What they really wanted was to be told how to do it. Telling people what they ought to do when they already know is like clubbing a person. It is a form of nagging. I want to put some techniques into your hands, which will show you how to live abundantly.
Frequently people tell how they have struggled to live victoriously. If trying should be the measure by which they lived, they would rate high, but they feel defeated and know that they don’t rate very far up the scale.
It will help us to remember that we never can succeed by struggle. We can’t lift ourselves by our bootstraps. Some people try. They see a higher level of life and they begin to struggle to lift themselves to that higher level.
Paul wrote, “God . . . hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6, emphasis added). We do not raise ourselves; we are raised by the grace of God.
We must forget this idea of struggle in connection with religious experience. Some people have the idea that if they can do perfectly enough in time, they may become the children of God. This is putting the cart ahead of the horse. We become by the gift of God and not by doing. We do according to the nature of a Son of God. It all sums up to this: We must put action as the expression of Christian stewardship instead of a struggle to be God-like. We are not God-like because of struggle, but because of the divine gift of God.
For years I tried to be holy. I carefully watched every act of my life and struggled a great deal with my thoughts. I never experienced any lasting satisfaction from the results I obtained. I struggled and strained but usually sensed defeat. One day I realized that if I could be holy by the process of effort it would be a humanistic holiness. It would be my own righteousness, which, at the best, would be the filthy rags of self-righteousness.
Religion is not my own self-righteousness, but the righteousness of God in me. It is His gift to me. Holiness does not come out of effort, but through a divine endowment.
Instead of struggling and straining to be good, then, we should surrender and give up to God to receive His goodness. Surrender is the word that will lead us to abundance through God. Usually that is the hardest thing we have to do. The world lives by the rule of “preserve self” not “surrender self.” Automatically, people flee to save self whenever anything occurs to disturb the status quo and there is an instinctive basis for it. However, such a course of action leads to a false security and will cheat them of life.
Jesus spoke an important truth after He rebuked Peter for insisting that they would not let Him die. He said, “Thou savourest (understandeth) not the things that be of God, but those that be of men . . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-24, emphasis added).
Peter understood the way of men. It was to save self, so he quickly insisted the Master should save Himself. But Jesus knew the secret that brings life, and it was the way of God. The secret was the way of surrender. He that will “save his life shall lose it” and he that will “lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
It is hard for the worldly-minded to see this secret. It is too paradoxical to seem reasonable. It is foolish to believe the way to have a thing is to give it up. The whole world believes that to have a thing you must get it in your possession and hold on to it. They believe the way to get is to grab. But that is the worldly-minded idea of possession. It is false.
The only things which are really yours are those which will be yours forever. You may hold some things in your possession now or hold legal title to them, but some day you will relinquish them because they are not really yours. The things that are really yours are those that you give up.
For many years I used the Promise “Ask and it shall be given you” as the law by which to receive the things I desired. But now I have found a higher law of receiving. It is “give and it shall be given unto you.”
It is a purging law because when you give up a thing you are cleansed from selfishness. It is the law of the overflow because He said, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Luke 6:38, emphasis added). You receive more than you give.
Despite the superficial conclusion of the worldly-minded, the way to abundant life is by the surrender of self and all of the things of life. “He that will lose his life for my sake shall find life.”
Jesus clearly teaches this, and we find it in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” blessed are they that mourn” and “blessed are the meek” are three, which will illustrate what I mean.
The “poor in spirit” refers to those who have surrendered the material things of life. Stanley Jones suggests the “renounced in spirit” and another writer puts it in the “detached in spirit.” It doesn’t mean you have sold your home and business. You may have them in your possession, but you are detached from them.
You are not enslaved by them. Some people are slaves to their homes. Some are slaves to their business or their jobs. Jesus said those who have surrender-ed the material things to God are happy.
“They that mourn” does not refer to a sad faced religious experience as some have thought because Jesus teaches us that the Gospel is good news. It refers to those who are living for others--they that are carrying the burdens of others. They have a soul-burden that is a type of heavy foreboding.
The meek are those who are detached from self. They do not consider themselves very important. They no doubt have rights but they do not consider them important enough to make an issue be-cause of them. They have surrendered self.
Jesus said those who surrendered things, self, and lived for others, would receive. What? “Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” They shall be comforted.” “They shall inherit the earth.” In other words, when we make a complete unconditional surrender to God we receive the realm above (Kingdom of Heaven) the realm within (comforted) and the realm without (inherit the earth.”)
The richest people on earth are not those who have the most money but those who have received this secret of life. “All things are yours . . .and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s (I Corinthians 3:21, 23).
When you are frustrated, beaten, discouraged, and hungry, you will find complete release in full surrender to God.
When you give up to God and all struggle ceases, the surrender makes you receptive for the gift of God. The first thing that comes then is a sense of relief, and the second thing is a feeling of wholeness.
Suddenly you feel an abundance as if a dam has gone out and the water is rushing over you. Usually in such an experience God becomes very real to you.
Most every one has had experiences of abundance when they realized wholeness, which they knew, was the gift of God. Then in their thinking they have wished that life could be like that all the time. Frequently, however, these experiences have been far apart and the gaps between have been filled with spiritual dryness and a feeling of inadequacy. The question is how can we narrow these gaps so abundant living can be a continuous experience in our lives.
I think obedience is the word that will help us on that point. When we surrender, the next step is obedience. The analogy of the vine and the branch in the fifteenth chapter of John indicates the fact that the nature of God will be in us if we “abide in Him.” He said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (emphasis added).
We receive living water by surrender but we find a continuous stream of it by obedience. Our obedience to God keeps the stream flowing. If there were immedi-ate obedience in every instance the flow would hardly be interrupted. Usually our lives are made up of one struggle after another over this matter of obedience.
There is a thing we need to do but it seems difficult so we seek a way of escape from it. After a prolonged period of struggling to escape, we see we cannot find a way out so we rather grudgingly sur-render and obey. The trouble is the period of resistance served to choke the channel until even our obedience failed to renew our abundance.
Instant obedience to God becomes an important factor in living out of the overflow.
PRACTICING THE PRESENCE
The man who is conscious of the presence of God will always feel adequate. It is when we lose the “presence” that we are forced to fall back on human re-sources. Actually living out of the overflow means to live in God’s presence.
Practice taking God with you wherever you go.
Think of Him helping you decide every question.
Thank Him for His help.
Seek Him for guidance.
Turn to Him when you are tempted or weak.
Seek Him when you stumble or sin.
Live as if God is your very breath of life.
If you will do this, you will be living out of the overflow. Life will be lifted to a higher level and you will find a marvelous victory. You can live abundantly. You can be victorious despite handicaps.
From Warner’s World …
I always admired Charles V. Weber. He stood tall when I was a young pastor beginning in 1951. I first heard his series in 1945 and ever after admired the man. I thought only to include the third lecture, but decided “so what if it is long, go for it.”
I apologize for the length and will hereafter try to better contain my own writings :-)
A compilation of Weber and Warner entitled Life Beyond Discipline is in stock at Reformation Publishers, 1-800-765-2464. It has Weber’s three lectures and two of my sermons on the work of the Holy Spirit