One of the pleasures of travel is being able to see spectacular locales firsthand that you’ve only read about or seen in pictures. Having been to the Grand Canyon, the Colosseum in Rome, the island of Capri, the Statue of Liberty, and standing among the skyscrapers of New York City, I can attest to how photographic images can’t begin to capture their wonder and grandeur.
I’ve never seen the Dead Sea in person, however, so I must rely on descriptions of this unusual body of water. Bordered on the east by the Jordan River and on the west by Israel and the West Bank, it’s an endorheic lake, which means it retains water because it has no outlet streams to other bodies of water.
It’s also hypersaline, meaning it retains salt levels much higher than ocean water. As a result, it hosts virtually no aquatic life, other than bacteria and microbial fungi.
Lacking an inflow of fresh water and outflow to a river or ocean, the Dead Sea is basically stagnated. So what? I think it’s significant because it provides a metaphor for the spiritual life of some who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Addressing a crowd that had gathered, Jesus Christ said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-38). And yet, have you noticed that sometimes when we encounter people who claim to be Christians, we don’t sense any “living water” flowing from them?
In his devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers alluded to this: “We are to be fountains through which Jesus can flow as ‘rivers of living water’ – irrepressible life in blessing to everyone. Yet some of us are like the Dead Sea, always receiving but never giving, because our relationship is not right with the Lord Jesus…whenever the blessings are not being poured out in the same measure they are received, there is a defect in our relationship with Him.”
Most of us have been to oceans, seas or lakes that were teeming with life – fish, plants and birds. One characteristic they have in common is the continual inflow and outflow of water. But when this reciprocal inflow/outflow does not occur, as with the Dead Sea, life and growth become impossible.
I’m reminded of a friend years ago who told about a man he met who made a point of attending every Christian seminar, workshop and just about every other gathering he heard about, yet never shared his faith with others. When my friend asked why, the man responded, “Oh, I just don’t know enough yet.”
Repeatedly in the Scriptures we learn about the importance of not only receiving but also giving out from what we’ve received. In Luke 16:10-11, Jesus was teaching about stewardship:
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
Although the context concerns financial and material possessions, this principle also can be applied to spiritual truth God entrusts to us. Years ago, I came across a verse in one of the earlier NIV translations that offers a simple yet profound message: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 6).
“Sharing our faith” means more than presenting the gospel message to nonbelievers. It also includes sharing with fellow followers of Jesus who He has been teaching us, both through His Word and our life experiences – how He uses them for our good, as well as how He works through us in ministering to other people. And living out our faith for the benefit of others.
How we use spiritual truth and understanding the Lord gives to us is a true issue of stewardship. We can hold onto it, selfishly keeping it to ourselves like a prized possession, or pass it along to others, enriching their lives and then allowing God to pour more into us.
We can either become a spiritual “Dead Sea,” or perhaps a spiritual equivalent of the Adriatic Sea, known for its crystal clear, blue waters that remain vibrant because of its constant inflow and outflow. To gain a fuller understanding of all Christ has to offer us, we need to share what we already possess.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.