We'll never "spill over" until we are first "filled up!"
Please consider these words from the book, "The Cure:" 'In God's eyes, RECEIVING Love always comes before GIVING Love. Please read that last sentence again. We have heard too many messages on "learning to love more" or "learning to love better." In Truth, we love only when we first learn how to receive the love of God and others. "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).
The Love God calls us to in the great "Love Chapter" (I Corinthians 13), and in First John, and throughout the New Testament, is utterly impossible for mortal man. It is a Love that is entirely supernatural. It is heavenly in character and must be heavenly in its SOURCE.
Trust me, no human critter alive has the ability within themselves to love as Christ loved. You will only ever "spill over," with this Love IF you are first "filled up.” And, really, it is only God (though He may use "others") who can “fill you up.”
It's not wrong to preach the Love that God commands, though it presents a standard unreachable for man (Paul certainly does in I Corinthians 13; as the Lord Jesus does in John 13:34-35!). But to preach the standard, alone, without stating that CHRIST IN YOU (Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20) is God's supernatural SUPPLY to meet that standard, is woefully incomplete. It will ultimately produce only defeat. It will expose our rank poverty in blazing neon, but can never, on its own, bring forth the results we truly desire.
Each of us needs to learn he could never produce the Love that scripture describes. He simply hasn’t got it in him. But it’s essential that every man realize that for himself, and “come to the end of his hoarded resources” that he may reach out and latch hold of our resources IN CHRIST!
The good news is that God implants in the heart of each and every believer in Christ, at the moment of our new birth, the CAPACITY to LOVE to the standard: "And hope maketh not ashamed, because the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
And if Christ, who IS LOVE, incarnate, dwells in you, it is your very design and destiny, as a New Creation in Christ, to be the bearer of that Love to others! It's in our New Creature DNA (II Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:10; I John 3:1-2; 4:7-5:5)!
In order for us to love as Christ has loved us, then, we must first BELIEVE that the LOVE of Christ truly does dwell within us, and then trust in Christ to actively LIVE that Love through us. As the man says, we must RECEIVE, before we are able to GIVE this Love.
My last few years teaching I John at NTBI, this became increasingly clear to me. The Apostle John insists on a heaven high standard for love. But he makes very sure to lay the necessary foundation for that love by emphasizing how amazingly God has first loved us. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God! BELOVED! NOW are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be" (I John 3:1-2). "Herein is love; NOT that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10). "And we have known and believed the love THAT GOD HATH TO US" (I John 4:16).
There it is! That is the key, right there! Have you KNOWN and BELIEVED the Love God has for you? THAT is the believer's necessary enablement for loving as Christ loved. You CAN'T "spill over," until you have first gotten "filled up."
I don't think the Bible teaches I'm to rely on my fellow man to fulfill that need. Man is supremely gifted at one perennial pursuit: letting down his fellow man. (I know. I'm being cynical 😕. The truth is, there will always be those precious few who, by the Grace of God, will surprise the socks right off of you! Several of you, my Facebook friends, have given me more than my personal share of that. I haven't been able to find two matching socks for months -- they've been knocked off, shaken silly, and blown over into the next county). Rather, DWELL MUCH on the Love GOD has for you. Know it. Believe it. BASK in it!
"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for MY EXPECTATION IS FROM HIM" (Psalm 62:5). "But ye, BELOVED, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, KEEP YOURSELVES IN THE LOVE OF GOD, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 20-21).
I'm thinkin' we ought to, all of us, get ourselves filled up, so we can spill over, BUT GOOD!