There are two small seas in the region, which are quite different in their characteristics. Both of these bodies of water are more like lakes by the rest of the world’s standards. But in an area where water is very scarce, it is understandable that they came to be known as seas. One of them is the Sea of Galilee. It is the smaller of the two but is teeming with fish and gives life to the area that surrounds it. The other is the Dead Sea, and its name gives away its primary characteristic. It is completely lifeless.
These seas are fed by the same source, the Jordan River, and they are only about 65 miles apart. Why, then, are they so vastly different?
One of the primary reasons pertains to what happens to the water that flows into each sea. The Sea of Galilee takes in water from the north, flows out to the south and eventually into the Dead Sea. But at 1,300 feet (400 meters) below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth, and as a result, its water has nowhere to go. The only way water leaves is by evaporation, and because the sea is situated in one of the hottest places on earth, its water evaporates exceedingly fast. All the minerals are left behind, making the water the saltiest on the planet—10 times the salinity of the oceans and twice the salinity of the Great Salt Lake in the western United States.
The Dead Sea is dead because it has no outlet. The reason the Sea of Galilee is full of life is that it has both an inflow and an outflow. It both receives and gives. The Dead Sea, however, only receives and never gives. It is full of riches but there is no life in it.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul writes, “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” (2:17) Like the Sea of Galilee, Paul received and gave. He poured his life out which allowed him to taste of the abundant life that Jesus promises. But more than that, because he was willing to pour out his life, he brought life to those around him.
Are you and I both receiving and giving? Are you and I pouring our lives out?