...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Several months ago my teenage nieces were in town visiting and asked about some of my favorite eateries in Dallas. When I described my favorite cookie shop, they begged me to take them. I pulled up to the shop, went inside, stepped up to the line, ordered cookies, heard the words “cash only,” reached into my pocket, found my wallet, and realized I was completely out of cash. In utter defeat I left the cookies on the counter and slowly walked away. I could not give to the cashier what I did not have.
A month ago I pulled into a gas station parking lot and was approached by a man in need of a bus ticket. After introductions and a short conversation, I found out who he was, where he was going, and why he could not get there. I decided to help, reached into my pocket, pulled out my wallet, and realized I was completely out of cash. For five long seconds I determined my only response was to offer him a ride. He politely declined. I could not give to this man what I did not have.
A week ago a student in our church asked me if he could borrow a dollar to buy a Coke before Sunday School. I replied affirmatively with a high five, reached into my pocket, grabbed my wallet, realized I was completely out of cash, disappointed the young man, and watched his sugar-high hope turn into a disheartened adolescent frown. Why would a grown man not have at least a dollar on him? I could not give to this student what I did not have.
You would think I would learn my lesson! The issue was not the actual supply of dollar bills I owned and needed to be successful in any of these situations. The supply was plentiful. The problem was that I had not taken the time to stop by the bank and refill what was lacking. I had not gone to the source. I had not been filled up. I assumed I could help without being helped; I could give without being given to.
The lesson? I cannot give what I do not have. This also is true for you. Were someone to ask my advice on this Valentine’s Day, I think I would offer this. As a matter of fact, I might offer this to someone who asks my advice on April 16 or September 2. You cannot give what you do not have! We—being united with, grounded in, and rooted into Christ by faith (v.17)—have a Source, a Supply, a Bank from which we can be incomprehensibly filled with the fullness of the glory of God’s love. The supply is plentiful and available through the power and work of the Spirit in our inner being (v.16)! The Spirit of God dwells within and lives to outpour, to overflow, to fill up, and to empower His people with this all-surpassing divine love (Romans 5:5). It is indescribably long, high, deep, and wide—the four perfect measurements found most profoundly in the dimensions of the cross of the One who secured this love for us. It is unlimited in supply and continuous in its invitation! Full and free!
Paul’s prayer in Ephesians intimates there is nothing more important than this for the people of God. If we want to give the love of Christ, we must first receive it. The outpouring is preceded by the inpouring. We must consider it, appropriate it, meditate upon it, and abide in it. Otherwise we know of the supply without actually being supplied. We have a bank account but no active cash. We speak of riches far away instead of riches residing with us, as if in our pockets. We speak of a far-off country full of blessing instead of calling it “home.”
Are you regularly receiving from the Source or declining to fill up while trying to give out? Go to the bank. The supply is plentiful. Don’t be caught empty-handed. You cannot give what you do not have. I challenge you on this Valentine’s Day to commemorate and commune with the hyper-excessive and hyper-abundant love of God for you in Christ Jesus. It’s full and free. Be rooted and grounded in this love. Then pour out, especially to loved ones this day.