The Principle of Overflow

Pastor Matthew Mitchell writes about a simple principal in his book Resisting Gossip that deserves some careful consideration as it relates to wisdom. The “principle of overflow” is a very basic principle but its impact is many times unrealized.

Imagine pouring water from a pitcher into a bottle and then pouring that bottle of water out on the floor. “Why is there now water on the floor?” Why is there not lemonade or sweet tea on the ground?

The question answers itself. The truth is evident, there is water on the floor because there was water in the bottle. In other words, whatever goes into something, will also come out of it in some form. This idea is very basic but many times we fail to see its importance as it relates to wisdom in our lives.

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon shares the metaphor that the way to wisdom is a path. In Proverbs 4, Solomon provides one of the most important truths when it comes to staying on that path when he says “Guard your heart, because it is the wellspring of life.” A wellspring is a continual supply of water that springs forth from a source. And whatever comes from that source can be refreshing or tainted.

Do we ever think about this idea as it relates to the decisions and the actions we make in life?

How many times have you looked back on your life and looked at a poor decision that was made and asked yourself the question, why did I do what I did? What Solomon suggests here, much like Jesus suggests in Luke 6:45, is that the way to wisdom is not the big decision that needs to be made tomorrow but rather the sum of what you are doing to your heart today.

As Tim Keller shares, “Whatever the ultimate desires or love of your heart is, spins out a whole way of making choices and decisions in your life…… If anything but Christ is that love, your wisdom is foolishness on your own terms.”

Want to make good decisions and walk down the path of wisdom? Consider what you are putting in your heart today. What are you listening to, watching or reading? Who are you surrounding yourself with that are pouring into your heart? And where is Christ and the “good news” in all this?

Every choice and decision we ever make comes from the heart and despite what culture tells us, we cannot continually make wise choices by the will.


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