There is a brand of ink for fountain pens called Noodler’s Ink that is my very favorite. It writes so smooth and dries quickly. It comes in every color you can imagine, but I always just choose black. And one of my favorite things about this company isn’t just the ink quality, but the fact that the bottle is filled all the way to the very top. Which might not seem like a big deal, but it is striking to me every time I open a new bottle. All the way to the brim! Who does that?
Honestly, you have to be so careful the first time you fill a pen, because it is almost too full. I don’t know of another company out there that holds to this same value. Bags of chips are half empty when you buy them. There is always room in any can or bottle you open. But not with Noodler’s. And the little bit of extra effort makes it stand out from the rest. It feels generous.
And we live in a world that, most of the time, does not. We live in a world of never enough. We are always hoping to get back what we’ve paid for. To minimize loss. Because there is only so much to go around. And this extends way beyond items we purchase. It applies to time, resources, energy, and relationships. We only have so much of ourselves to give.
As I’ve been teaching through the book of Luke, I was struck by Jesus’s words to not judge. Not to condemn. Instead, he tells us to forgive and to give. To do both generously. And to do it with confidence that what is poured out of us will be refilled.
But not just refilled to the brim. No, he says your basket will be filled to the top, and will pour over into your lap. It will fill up the front of your tunic. And while the metaphor of black ink might messily break down at this point, when thinking about the measure as grain, we are being given a glimpse of one of the secrets of the universe. The designer of all things is incredibly generous. God is merciful and full of compassion. And when we pour ourselves out for others, we will be refilled beyond our holding capacity. Compassion is showered back on us.
This is not simply justice or karma. It is grace. And it is abundant. But we have to make room in our hearts for more. And we do it by lavishing those around us with forgiveness. When we’re wronged and offended. When we are disappointed and let down. When others wound us or overlook us or insult us. We give. And to the measure we give, we receive…and then some.
As someone who is always rationing out my energy and pacing myself emotionally, I have much to learn. But I’m finding these verses to ring true of my own experience. That my relational batteries are lasting longer these days. That the more I give, the greater my endurance seems to be. And this additional truth gives me an increase of joy. Because I’m not doing this alone. And as I love others, I feel myself being loved.
Again, we are being told here one of the deep truths of God’s kingdom. To see our hearts through the lens of scarcity makes us wither. It makes us small. It is blindness. But to live generously, and give of ourselves in faith, not only gives us back what we’re given. It grows us. It enlarges our hearts. All the way to the top.