On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
-- Zechariah 14:8-9
The Dead Sea certainly lives up to its name.
Super-high salinity levels--about four times higher than those found in most oceans--make it impossible for fish or aquatic plants and live in its balmy waters. In fact, the Dead Sea (actually a 34-mile-long lake) is so salty that you can float in it without trying. You can literally recline in its waters and read a book!
The reason for this anomaly is that the Dead Sea is one of the lowest points on earth. Situated about 1,300 feet below sea level between Israel and Jordan, the lake accepts fresh water from the Jordan River. But since there's no outlet for the flow to proceed, the Dead Sea's moisture evaporates quickly in the heat. This renders tons of salt and mineral deposits in the water and the shoreline, but certainly no life.
This is a fitting illustration of some people. Like the Dead Sea receiving the sweet waters of the Jordan River, these individuals gladly accept the flow of God's abundant blessings. However, nothing ever comes from this goodness. So rather than delivering life to their neighbors and communities, these fruitless followers retain their gifts and stagnate like the killing waters of the salty lake.
But that's not the way God wants it. He continues to bless us through our skills, incomes and life experiences. And he desires us to use them to benefit others. What's more, where we live, where we work and who we meet each day aren't wild coincidences. So it's no wonder that we're called to serve as Jesus' representatives by giving back, blessing others and showing love in action.
How can we demonstrate fruitfulness? One way is to support the church financially with the first part of our income. And it's by such giving that we reject materialism and acknowledge the true source of our blessings. Meanwhile, we should use our skills, talents (and sometimes sweat) to promote Jesus' message of salvation and advance his Kingdom. This also can come in many forms--from distributing food to the homeless to babysitting a neighbor's child to helping repair a shut-in's home. And of course, giving back isn't about promoting ourselves to the world and making a show of how supposedly good we are. It's instead about letting our neighbors taste the fresh waters of God's goodness.
There are lots of thirsty people out there with spirits parched by the heat of life's pitfalls and disappointments. As Christ-followers, it's up to us to offer them refreshment through living faith in Jesus. Let's therefore embrace this simple assurance from our Master found in John's Gospel:
"Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."