(Philippians 2:17 – ESV)
In chapter two of this epistle Paul exhorts the Philippians to pour themselves out to one another. You live out the faith, you pour out what God has poured in with humility and without complaint. He says Christ was poured out, Paul himself was being poured out, Timothy was being poured out, and Epaphroditus was nearly all poured out.
I want to relate being poured out specifically to prayer. You are pouring out yourself to something every day already, time, money, effort, thoughts, deeds, words, every minute of every day your life is being poured out. If you pour it out in prayer and service to God He will keep pouring His Spirit within you and upon your sacrifice of faith.
Being poured out is the path to joy. Paul was poured out as wine upon their sacrifice. The wine was to symbolize joy indicating that the sacrifice was done with a joyful heart and with the intent to bring joy to the Lord. Paul is saying, “Even if I have to die it is a small thing, a little sacrifice compared to the far greater sacrifice and service coming from your faith. I am going to die but it will make the sacrifice complete.” He rejoices that he was counted worthy to make a sacrifice and that they were also. His tireless effort helped lead to their true faith.
You can be poured out the wrong way. The world speaks of pouring yourself out as well, but it is in the sense of pouring your life into what you do. A recent country singer captures this idea in his song, “Live Like You Were Dying”. Now the song is a nice sounding sentiment, to pour it all out, to live with intention, but all he talks about is thrill seeking and actually selfish things for the most part. It is a humanistic motivational idea. The video looks like it is supposed to be all spiritual or whatever, but it isn’t giving glory to God, it isn’t what being poured out means in the biblical sense. When compared to what Christ would have us do, we see that the sentiment to live with passion and intention can be perverted into getting the most for us out of this life instead of giving to God's glory as much as we can in this life. Indeed we ought to live like we were dying, dying to self, that is.
Christians want to be poured on or poured in but they haven’t yet poured out. We should be poured out, but people don’t want to take the risk of being poured out. People only want to serve the way they want to serve; they want to choose their altar of service. They need to realize that if they cannot pour themselves out in prayer then how could they ever in practice.
God takes a person who is truly filled with the Spirit and uses tough situations to spill them over, so that His power and presence can flood onto others’ lives, and then He fills the vessel once again. He doesn’t fill us with His Sprit just so that we can feel full. If you try and hold it all in you will get nothing but a spiritual stomachache. No, it is not about the fullness in our bellies but the overflow of His life out from our bellies. Christ promised rivers of living water to come forth from our hearts (John 7:38), but how can we expect to see this power if we won’t allow ourselves to be poured out?