Some words mean what they sound like. “FULLNESS” is one of those words. When you hear it, you feel FULL, don't you? Fullness suggests what I am, not what I have, or don’t have. Fullness comes from a choice to stand in a position of being.
It can’t come from a deficit mentality. God’s fullness in us means that we, in turn, produce fullness. It’s an inevitability.
I’ve been thinking about what I carry within me.
Do I carry a sense of fullness? Are there area’s I carry a sense of emptiness? How does that affect my living and the way God wants to live in me?
Our sense of fullness causes us to enact a certain way of living.
There are two women and one man in the bible who demonstrate fullness to me.
The poor widow who gave her last two coins in the temple offering box, the woman who broke open an expensive alabaster jar of pure nard over Jesus, and David, the shepherd boy.
The Poor Widow (Mark 12 and Luke 21)
She gave her last two coins at the temple when others were jingling all their coinage to draw attention. I’ve been musing over what these last two coins could have meant for this woman. Had she lost her home? Did she have family or friends that looked after her? Did offering these coins mean she had nothing left and could expect to go away and die? Had she given up? Was she acting in faith? What did this act demonstrate for her?
Could these two coins have been from her bridal headdress? Strange question but work with me.
A Jewish bridal headdress often had 10 coins of silver or gold sewn onto a headband, gifted by her father, and was all the property she typically owned. It could be added to by her husband but it was something that nobody could ever take away from her. It belonged solely to her.
In Eastern tradition, women’s jewellery, including their bridal headdress, were their bank accounts. In extreme hardship, they could sell pieces or exchange the gold or silver for currency. Because of women’s position in society, these coins carried a value that was beyond currency.
Think about it. Those coins not only represented food, they could have represented her past security. Where those coins may have represented establishment as a married woman, now, because she was a widow, they could have represented loss. But she didn’t give away just one coin, she gave two – both of her last coins. If you had lost your husband and you were giving away your bridal dinner set, wouldn’t that make it more valuable than what anyone else could give away? What would that represent to you?
Jesus said to his disciples, that widow gave all that she had – more than all the others put together.
Suppose those last two coins had originally come from her bridal headdress? She was giving away something priceless. Why? What else could have prompted such an extravagant offering but a fullness that was borne in her heart?
The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 7)
Mark 14 tells the story of a woman who came to Jesus at a dinner table with very expensive perfume. What it had taken for her to acquire it, we can only suppose. But, uninvited, she walked into a room full of men who were not welcoming and, in front of everyone, she broke open the jar of lard and poured the whole lot over Jesus. How extravagant. How luxurious. How improper. Her hair was unravelled, not bound by a headdress that symbolised her position to a husband. The fragrance filled the house. Her weeping filled the house. Her love filled the house. She was unravelled before Him – and in front of other men.
Can you imagine that? The text says the men there “rebuked her harshly”. Typical of the times, the table would not have had women present, so besides the decadence of what she was doing, she also defied the customs and what was acceptable. Perhaps she was used to being in that position. But Jesus told the men to “leave her alone”. He said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me…. She did what she could.”
Defying her own reputation, which apparently was ravaged anyway, she didn’t care anymore. She was in love with Jesus in the purest way she had ever been in love with a man before, and for that, she loved him more. That’s what transformation will do to a woman’s heart. He made her feel pure and He gave her the security to find purity and fullness again in Him.
She did what she could. Jesus also shunned the customs and what was acceptable. He sat beside her in her unacceptable position and received from her.
David, the Shepherd Boy
In reading about David’s early years, we see he came from the most humble of positions. When he set out to slay Goliath, King Saul asked his men about David’s social standing (1 Samuel 17:55). The truth was David didn’t have any social standing. He was clearly condescended to by his older brothers (1 Samuel 17:28-29) and, apparently his father (1 Samuel 16:10-11).
Jewish tradition suggests a scandal around David’s birth and a story that he and his mother may have both suffered dreadful stigmatism because of it. The grief and ostracism they apparently lived with was significant.
David commends his mother in a prayer for the way she served God (Psalm 86:16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did. NIV). Because of her piety to God, I tend to believe she was terribly maligned. However, she somehow kept her faith and trust pure and that’s where David learned his devotion to God. The point being, he had nothing of value to show for himself. He was disregarded growing up, possibly badly treated and had no standing in his own right except for who he was in God.
In 1 Samuel 18, Saul’s son Jonathan, the crown prince, gave David his royal robe and weaponry, symbolising his relinquishing of the throne to David and embrace into his own family. And David received it!
David had nothing but a full heart for God that his mother had taught him, and a knowledge that that was where his standing was.
If I believe that all things come from God’s hand, and I perceive I have nothing, that means God has not provided. I’ll be less likely to give anything away. I’ll hold on to whatever I have as if there’s no more provision. I’ll hold on to whatever I have because I think I’m the one causing the provision.
But if I’m a steward, rather than an owner, everything that comes to me passes through my fingers for a purpose. Nothing costs me anything! If God is my provider, I can receive everything He gives me and be happy to do what He wants with what I receive and with who I am.
The widow and the woman with the alabaster jar both gave what they could, extravagantly, out of all that they had, defying convention and logic. Jesus commended them both. David had nothing else to give but himself. He gave himself fully and overcame a giant that nobody else was prepared to defy. Just like a bridal headdress, God gave David a position that nobody could take away.
These remarkable people gave out of the fullness that was in their hearts. All of them could have perceived they had nothing. All of them could have perceived they were empty. All of them defied what others saw and chose to see themselves and their lives from a position of fullness.
If you’re feeling full, give as fully as you can. If you’re feeling empty, give out of whatever you are able to. In all your ways acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:6). Let us look at whatever is in our hands now as fullness and be thankful for it. Give it away as if giving it to God. Begin to see your fullness instead of your emptiness. Live your moments and your time with fullness, completing things birthed in your heart. What do you have to offer? Don’t procrastinate and don’t hold back. Look for opportunities to be expansive. Your fullness will, bit by bit, be made complete and be multiplied, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
My lesson, and I hope yours too, is to hold lightly and give away from a heart of fullness.
Luke 6:38 (ESV)
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”