My family has a “contact card” that we often give to new people that we meet. The card has our names, address, phone numbers, email address, and a Scripture verse. I’m not the kind of person who has to “Christianize” everything by putting a Bible verse on it. I don’t have Christian bumper stickers or even a fish on my car. So, why did I choose to place a verse on this card? Well, first of all, this is the verse that I chose:
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:38 ESV)
Now, you may think this is a weird verse to hand to people. I mean, it doesn’t say anything about getting saved. It doesn’t “share the Gospel”. It doesn’t even mention God or Jesus by name. So, why did I choose this verse? Well, there are several reasons…
For one thing, I hope that this verse will spark interest. Whether a believer or unbeliever reads the verse on the card, I hope the person asks themselves what it means for living water to flow out of their hearts and whether or not living water does in fact flow out of their hearts.
But, that’s not the main reason. The main reason that I placed that verse on the cards was as a reminder to myself. Whenever I hand out one of these cards, I see that verse – even if I do not read it, I see it – and remember what it says. In every case, I have asked myself, “Am I allowing rivers of living water to flow out of my heart?” Then, specifically, concerning the person that I am handing the card to, I ask myself, “Are rivers of living water flowing out of my heart and into this person’s life?”
I believe that when Paul told Timothy to “Proclaim the word; be ready in season and out of season!” (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV) that Paul meant a little more than the way we normally think about this. You see, if this verse only applies to “pastors” and “preachers” then most of us are off the hook. In that interpretation, only a few believers would need to be concerned about what “message” to “preach”.
However, if Paul meant for this to apply to Timothy and all of those that Timothy would read and teach this to, then it applies to me and you as well. So, I need to be ready “in season and out of season” to proclaim the word of God. I cannot “be ready” if I only study Scripture in order to teach other people at specific times and in formal settings. Instead, I need to study Scripture in order to allow the Holy Spirit to use it to change my life. What? To change my life? Yes. I can teach facts any time, but I have found that when God teaches through me, He teaches other what He has already taught me, or is currently teaching me. And, when God teaches me, He changes me.
As I meet other people, what God is teaching me through His Spirit will naturally spill out of my heart and into the lives of those people. This will not come out as a lesson filled with facts, but as an example of how God can change you – because He has changed me!
Read the verse that comes before the one I quoted above (and that verse in context):
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7:37-38 ESV)
Unfortunately, I believe that there are many who are teaching without first being thirsty. I believe there are some who preach without coming to Jesus to drink first. I believe there are many who teach without being changed first. Sharing facts is not the same as teaching. “Rivers of living water” come through a changed life.
I pray that whatever comes out of my heart and into the hearts of others will have first been born in my life by a thirst for Jesus and a satisfaction that can only come from Him. And, what if rivers of living water are not flowing? Then, I start praying for thirst. Only then… not because of my study or education or elucidation… only after my thirst has been quenched by Jesus… will rivers of living water flow out of my heart and into the lives of others.