The Overflow of our Hearts
Text: Luke 6:43-45
We’re actually in between two sermon series. Jeremy and I just finished a six week series on the critical factors that lead to transformation, and next week we’re starting a six sermon series on Easter, which means that I’ve got a free sermon. Normally that would make me nervous, but I’ve been thinking of something I’d like to preach on for a while, the topic of worship. A while back I heard someone make a comment that they aren’t inspired by worship sometimes. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that, but my gut reaction was ‘shouldn’t worship be inspired by what Jesus has done for you on the cross, rather than what the worship team does on the stage?’ I didn’t say it at the time but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. So this morning I’d like to take you on a journey as we explore one word in our text this morning – the word ‘overflow.’ I’m calling this sermon ‘The Overflow of Our Heart.’ That’s what Jesus said in our text, ‘out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Lk 6:45b)’ In the Greek it’s the word perisseuma (perisseuma), which means to have an abundance, in fact an abundance that overflows. Paul even uses a word that means superabundance. This word group is used around 90 times in the New Testament. Maybe a word picture might help you understand what this word means. When you build a dam you stop the flow of water, but what happens is that the water keeps coming until it overflows the dam wall. That’s what Jesus is referring to in our text this morning. What’s flowing into our hearts eventually overflows out of our mouths. This morning I want to look at how this word has been used to describe what has been poured into our hearts, what should overflow from our hearts, and how that relates to worship.
1) What’s been poured into our Hearts?
So let’s start with what has been poured into our hearts. Let’s take a look at four things that the Bible explicitly says has been abundantly poured into our lives.
a) Grace (Eph 1:7-8; 2 Cor 9:8; Rom 5:15-20)
The first one is grace. In Ephesians Paul talks about how ‘7 …the riches of God’s grace 8 [have been] lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding… (Eph 1:7b-8a)’ That word translated ‘lavished’ is from the same word group as the word ‘overflow.’ God has abundantly poured grace into our lives through Jesus Christ. Elsewhere Paul says, ‘8 …God is able to make all grace abound to you… (2 Cor 9:8)’ In fact in Romans 5 Paul says it three times. Paul is comparing the difference between being in Adam and under the curse of sin, and being in Christ and receiving God’s gift of grace. And he says, ‘15 …how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow (there’s our word) to the many! (Rom 5:15b)’ And verse 17, ‘17 …how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace (there’s our word again) and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:17b)’ And verse 20, ‘20 …But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that …grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:20b-21)’ All of these verses make the point that what God has poured out into our lives in Jesus Christ is his grace, his free and undeserved salvation. Actually that’s not quite right. The point is that God has abundantly poured out his grace into our lives through Jesus Christ. Actually, that’s not quite right either. The point is that God has superabundantly poured out his grace into our lives. That’s the word Paul uses in verse 20, ‘where sin increased, we have grace superabundantly.’ God’s grace is more than enough to deal with our sin. Christ’s death is more than enough to pay our penalty. God has abundantly poured out his grace, his undeserved love, into our lives.
b) Righteousness (Mt 5:20)
Which neatly leads us into the second thing that God has given us in Christ - righteousness. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus says some really intense things. One of them goes like this, ‘20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:20)’ There’s our word right there, ‘surpasses.’ Unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees you can’t get into heaven. Now is Jesus kidding here? I mean the righteousness of the Pharisees was pretty impressive. They knew God’s law back to front and they went out of their way to make sure they kept it. In fact, they made thousands of extra laws to help them stay away from breaking God’s laws. If God’s law was a line you couldn’t cross they drew another line half a click out just to make sure. But you have to be more righteous than that to get into heaven. That’s not Good News, that’s bad news. Who could be that righteous? No one… except God! No one except Jesus Christ! And the Good News of the gospel is through faith in Jesus we receive a righteousness not based on the law, either God’s law or the Pharisees, but on that’s based on God’s grace. Through faith in Jesus Christ God freely makes us right with him. The surpassing righteousness, the abundant righteousness that we need is the righteousness of Jesus. Only Christ’s righteousness is enough to make us right with God. In Jesus God gives us a righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees. In Jesus God’s righteousness overflows to us.
c) Life (Jn 10:10)
Thirdly, Jesus talks about how he has given us life. John 10:10, ‘10 …I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (Jn 10:10b)’ There’s our word. Jesus has come that we might have life to the full, or that we might have life in abundance, or that we might overflow with life. And often we think of this verse in the sense that in Christ life becomes awesome, that it is qualitatively better. And in a sense that’s true, Jesus does make our lives better in many ways. But it’s more likely Jesus is talking in a quantitative sense, Jesus came to give us not just a better life, but eternal life, Jesus came to give us more life. Another way of putting it is: the life Jesus has given us overflows into eternal life. Through faith in Jesus we receive life that goes beyond the mere 70 or 80 years on this planet, but overflows into eternity.
d) Suffering and Comfort (2 Cor 1:5)
Fourthly, Paul talks about how in Christ we experience both suffering and comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:5, ‘5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor 1:5)’ Paul is saying that because of our commitment to Jesus we will share in the same sufferings that Jesus endured, ridicule, rejection, sometimes outright persecution. But we don’t suffer alone, Jesus promises to be with us in our suffering. In fact, Jesus comforts us and encourages us through his Spirit, and through his people, and through his word. Jesus’ comfort overflows in our lives. Jesus’ comfort abounds. Jesus’ comfort is abundant.
The gospel is that in Christ God has poured his grace into our hearts. We have been freely forgiven, we have been washed clean, we have been reconciled with God, we have been adopted as God’s children, we have become members of God’s family. Through faith in Jesus Christ we have received a righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees, a righteousness that makes us right with God. Through faith in Jesus we have received abundant life, a life that overflows into eternity. Through faith in Christ we not only experience suffering but the comfort we receive from him overflows into our lives. And there are so many other things that fill our hearts in Christ. Paul talks about how God ‘20 …is able to do immeasurably more (or superabundantly) than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Eph 3:20)’ God’s power is also given to us abundantly.
But I want to ask you this morning: Does all this describe you? Has God poured out his grace into your heart? Have you received Christ’s righteousness through faith in his death on the cross? Have you believed in Jesus and received eternal life? Have you received ‘any encouragement from being united with Christ, or any comfort from his love, (Phil 2:1)’ and Paul puts it in Philippians 2? Is this what’s in your heart? If not, then I want to encourage you to put your faith in Jesus Christ and experience God’s superabundant grace, Christ’s surpassing righteousness, his abundant life, and overflowing comfort. God wants to pour these things into your life today. He wants you to overflow with his grace and righteousness and life and comfort. But what if this is what’s in your heart? What then?
2) What’s meant to overflow from our Heart?
God doesn’t just want to pour this stuff into your life he wants it to overflow out of your life. In our text Jesus says, ‘out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Lk 6:45b)’ These things are meant to overflow out of your life. They are meant to overflow from out of your heart. So what exactly does the Bible expect to see when God pours his grace and Christ’s righteousness, and life and comfort into our lives? I found seven things.
And the first is probably the most obvious – love. In his letter to the Christians in Philippi Paul writes, ‘9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more… (Phil 1:9a)’ And to the church in Thessalonica he writes, ‘12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. (1 Thess 3:12)’ And then he adds, ‘10 …in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more, (or more abundantly). (1 Thess 4:10)’ God pours his love into our lives in Christ Jesus, and he expects to see it overflow into the lives of others. God has lavished his undeserved love on us in Jesus Christ, and it should inspire us to love others. Our love for others doesn’t come from outside of us, it’s not we love others because they love us, it’s not you need to inspire me to be more loving. Rather it should come from with in us. We are inspired to love others because of God’s amazing love for us. Out of the overflow of our hearts we love others.
Secondly, the Bible talks about how we should respond with thanksgiving. In his second letter to the Church in Corinth Paul prays that, ‘15 …the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (2 Cor 4:15)’ Paul is specifically thinking of God’s grace at work in other people’s lives should cause us to overflow with thanksgiving. But the same should be true for us – when we see God’s grace at work in our lives it should also result in thanksgiving. God pours his grace into our lives and thanksgiving should overflow. Paul talks about ‘14 …the surpassing grace God has given you. (2 Cor 9:14b)’ and all he can do is respond with ‘15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9:15)’ Out of the overflow of our hearts we thank God.
Thirdly, we’re told that out of the overflow of our hearts we express joy. In Second Corinthians Paul talks about the struggles in the Macedonain churches, and he mentions ‘2 …their overflowing joy… (2 Cor 8:2b)’ This joy didn’t have anything to do with their current circumstances. In fact, Paul talks about ‘2 …the most severe trial… and their extreme poverty… (2 Cor 8:2)’ Rather their joy came from ‘1 …the grace that God has given [them]. (2 Cor 8:1b)’ God had poured his grace into their lives and it overflowed in joy. The Apostle Peter writes, ‘8 …you believe in [Christ] and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet 1:8b-9)’ God pours his grace into our hearts and we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. And when Peter says this joy is inexpressible he isn’t saying we shouldn’t express, it’s just that it’s really hard to express. All through the Bible we are called to express ‘the joy of our salvation,’ and to ‘shout and sing for joy.’ Joy should overflow from our hearts.
And sticking with these guys from Macedonia Paul talks about how ‘2 ...their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (2 Cor 8:2b)’ Again these guys weren’t generous because they were rich, rather they were generous because God was so generous to them. God’s grace results in generosity. God poured his grace into their lives and it overflowed with generosity. In fact, Paul adds, ‘12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. (2 Cor 9:12)’ God’s grace that overflows in generosity also overflows in thanksgiving.
Fifthly, we are to overflow with hope. In Romans 15 Paul writes, ‘13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)’ Paul actually calls God, ‘the God of hope,’ because God pours hope and joy and peace into our lives, and through the Holy Spirit our hope overflows out of our lives. Peter says, ‘15 …Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Pet 3:15b)’ Our hope in Jesus Christ should overflow so much that people should be able to see it. Our hope in God’s grace, and in Christ’s righteousness, and the promise of eternal life and divine comfort, should be so obvious people will ask about it. When things seem hopeless people should be asking ‘How do you get through? What makes the difference? Why do you still have hope?’ Out of the overflow of our hearts we have hope.
f) Good Works
Next, we are to abound in good works. Paul says, ‘58 …Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58b)’ In the Greek it’s literally, ‘abound in the work of the Lord at all times.’ Because God has poured his grace into our hearts we are to abound in the Lord’s work. God’s grace in, good works out. Elsewhere Paul puts it like this, ‘8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:8)’ God abundantly pours his grace into our lives so that we can abundantly serve him.
g) Pleasing God
The final thing to overflow out of our hearts is a desire to please God. Paul finishes his first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica with these words ‘1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more (or abundantly more). (1 Thess 4:1)’ Paul has told them how to live in order to please God, and they are living that way, but he urges them to do so abundantly. As God pours his abundant grace into our lives it overflows in a desire to please him.
As God gives us abundant grace in Jesus and the abundant righteousness of Christ, and as he gives us eternal life and abundant comfort in the face of suffering it is meant to overflow out of our lives. God’s abounding grace is meant to overflow in love, and thanksgiving, and joy, and generosity, and hope, and good works, and a desire to please God. You can’t dam God’s grace in, it overflows out of our hearts, and into our lives, and into the lives of those around us.
3) What’s this mean for our Worship?
So what does this mean for our worship?
a) Offer your life to God
Firstly, it means we need to offer our lives to God. I don’t think I can put it any better than Paul in Romans 12:1, ‘1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Rom 12:1)’ Basically Paul is saying because God has poured his grace into our lives we are to give our lives to him as an act of worship. We worship God by allowing his grace to overflow in love and thanksgiving and joy and generosity and hope and good works. We worship God by responding to his love in Christ Jesus, by offering our lives to please him. So this morning I want to ask you: Does God’s love for you in Christ Jesus overflow in love for others? Does God’s grace in your life overflow in thanksgiving? Does God’s salvation overflow in expressions of joy? Does God’s overwhelming generosity towards you in Jesus overflow in you being generous towards others? Does God’s gift of eternal life overflow in hope? Does God’s good work in Christ overflow in your good works for him? Does the fact that God did all this result in a desire to please him? What God has poured into our hearts in Jesus should affect every aspect our lives.
b) Speak words of grace
But in our text Jesus specifically talks about how, ‘out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths speak.’ How does this impact how we speak, or what comes out of our mouths? Because God has poured his grace into our hearts what should overflow out of our mouths are words of grace. Grace filled people should be gracious people. We worship God with our words. What words flow out of your mouth? Do you speak grace into the lives of others? Do you build up others with your words? Do you encourage others? Do you share the gospel with other people? Do you pray for people? Do you speak words of love and thanksgiving and joy and hope, words pleasing to God? Or do your words wound? Maybe you often speak in anger, or you speak harsh words, or like in my case flippant words or coarse words. As Paul says, ‘29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Eph 4:29)’ and ‘4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Eph 5:4)’ Out of the overflow of our heart we speak.
c) Sing words of praise
Finally, out of the overflow of our hearts we should sing words of praise. What comes out of your mouth shouldn’t be inspired by what the worship team is doing up here, but by what God has done in your heart. We hope our worship team encourages you to express what’s in your heart, and we hope that the music we play helps you express those things, but ultimately what comes out of your mouth should be what’s overflowing out of your heart. Does God’s love for you displayed on the cross overflow in a desire to declare your love for Jesus? Does God’s grace poured out for you make you want to respond with songs of thanksgiving? Does the fact that you have been saved from your sin make you want to sing with joy?
This morning I want to encourage you to think about the things that God has poured into your life, the things that have filled your heart – His grace, Christ’s righteousness, eternal life, the comfort of Christ. Has God given those things to you? Are those things true for you? If so, are they overflowing out of your heart into your life and into the lives of those around you? Are they overflowing in expressions of love and words of thanksgiving and shouts of joy? Are they overflowing in generosity and hope? Are they overflowing in good works done with a desire to please God? And are they overflowing in words of grace and songs of praise. Don’t bottle up God’s grace in your heart let it overflow, in how you live, in how you speak, and in how you sing. Amen!