Called to Conform

A Life Poured Out

By Denise M. Kohlmeyer

Called to Conform
An in-depth series on the practical outworkings of Christ-like Conformity

A Messianic Mindset
A Heart Like Jesus
The Obedience of Christ
A Life Poured Out
Conflict and Suffering
Final Thoughts

If I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Philippians 2:17

Although these were the words of the Apostle Paul, they were the lifeblood of Jesus Christ. His was, quite literally, a life poured out in the sacrificial service of the world. From the moment He began His ministry at the age of 30, He did not rest once from meeting the needs of those around Him.

For three years, He lived in total devotion to God His Father and to others, pouring His life into such ministries as:

Baptizing — John 3:22-23
Casting out Demons — Mark 1:39
Fasting — Luke 4:2
Feeding Others — Matthew 14:13-21, 15:29-39
Fellowshipping — Matthew 9;10; Mark 2:13-17
Forgiving People's Sins — Mark 2:5; Luke 7:48, 23:34, 43; John 8:11
Healing — 31 recorded healings (for full list, go to: "Individual Healings of Jesus Christ")
Interceding — Romans 8:34
Performing Miracles — 40 recorded miracles (for full list, go to: "Miracles of Jesus Christ")
Praying — Mark 1:35; Matthew 11:25-26, 14:23; Luke 6:12, 22:32, 22:41-44, 23:34; John 11:41-42
Preaching — Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:38-39
Rebuking — Luke 11:37-54
Saving — John 3:16; Luke 19:10
Serving Others — John 13:1-5
Suffering — 1 Peter 2:21-25
Teaching — Matthew 4:23; 5:1-2

This is why God could say of His Son, "I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and He was numbered with transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12).

But what was this "drink offering" that Paul referenced? While both Jews and Gentiles would've understood this illustration, we don't today simply because it is not something we do.

The literal drink offering was a common practice in the ancient world among the religious and the pagan alike. For the wilderness-wandering Jews, it was a mandate, a required part of the daily sacrificial system (Exodus 29:41) and also a requirement for special feasts, like the yearly Passover (Numbers 28:24) and the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:11). As much as two quarts of expensive wine was to be poured out at the foot of the altar as the burnt, fellowship, or grain offering was being presented to God by the priests. Both the drink and the burnt offerings symbolized consecration to God and sacrifice.

In Roman practice, a cup of wine would be poured out after a meal in honor of a particular god, for instance Janus, the "god of beginnings, transitions, openings, closings, and entrance-ways." Interestingly, as I was doing research for this article, I ran across a webpage that delineates which sacrifices (animal, food, incense, wine) are acceptable to which gods — the drink offering is still alive and well today, it seems.

With Christ, though, these ritual sacrifices are no longer necessary. But the concept of consecration and sacrifice is! Conformity to Jesus Christ asks that we still live our lives as a drink offering, pouring ourselves out physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and sometimes monetarily, on behalf of others: those in our homes, our churches, our communities, our cities, our workplaces or schools. And particularly for those in our world: the poor, the homeless, the widowed, the orphaned, the spiritually lost.

But more often than not, we don't live this way. Why? One word: selfishness.

Author Leslie Ludy says it best:
God has not called us to build our lives around the pursuit of our own selfish desires, but to be poured-out sacrifices for His kingdom...We [Americans in particular] are proud, focused on self, consumed with our wealth and comforts, we live in an abundance of idleness and shallow pleasure, and we are indifferent to the plight of the needy around the world....American mentalities train us that this life is all about our dreams, our goals, and our ambitions. But that's not true Christianity. ("Living A Poured Out Life")
Ludy lists several ordinary women as examples of those who poured out their lives for Christ: Gladys Aylward, an uneducated parlor maid who served in China, and Amy Carmichael, an English lady who helped rescue India's forgotten children. To that list, we could certainly add all of the apostles, many of whom lost their lives for the cause of Christ, and other godly notables such as Augustine, William Tyndale, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, Jim Elliot, Eric Liddell, not to mention our churches' missionaries and pastors — many of whom pour out their lives daily in teaching, preaching, discipling, Scripture translation, visiting the sick, praying.

Most of us, however, won't be called to that level of sacrifice that the apostles, pastors or missionaries. Most of us won't be called to a foreign field or an inner city or a pastorate. But that does not exempt us.

Being poured out involves seeing our selfishness and confessing it, then intentionally, voluntarily, willingly, joyously taking up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Matthew 6:24).

Being poured out means dying to self! Becoming selfless.

It involves putting others first, of doing "nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

It involves showing kindness and being tenderhearted towards those who have wronged you, even forgiving them, remembering how "God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

It involves the exhaustive use of our spiritual gifts — whatever they are (see 1 Corinthians 7:7-17, 12:8-11; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:10b-11) — for the glory of God and the good of others.

It involves being like Jesus! Doing, desiring, and being everything He ever did and was on our behalf, as much as it is humanly possible, with the help of the Holy Spirit. And, in the end, when we stand before God, fully drained of the life and ministry He gave us to do, we will hear the blessed words of Matthew 25:23, "'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master'."

To understand more about the drink offering, please see "What is a drink offering?"

Also, check out Riley Erin's song "Life Poured Out" and be blessed.

Image Credit: Kenny Louis; "Water pour 2"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Jesus-Christ  | Personal-Relationships

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Published on 6-19-17