If I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of
your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
What is this “drink offering,” or “libation of wine” that Paul speaks of? While those in the ancient world—both Jew and Gentile—would’ve understood this metaphor, we typically don’t today, simply because it’s not part of our vernacular. The drink offering was a common practice in the first millennium. In Roman culture, a cup of wine would be poured out onto the ground after a meal honoring a particular god, say, Janus, the “god of beginnings, transitions, openings, closings, and entrance-ways.”
For the Jews, it was God-mandated, a required part of the daily sacrificial system and during feasts (Passover and the Day of Atonement). Similar to Roman practice, the Levitical priest poured out at least two quarts of good, expensive wine at the base of the altar during an animal sacrifice. However, this is where the two practices diverge. For the Jews, the drink and the sacrifice were acts of worship to God and symbolized consecration to Him.
Furthermore, the Jewish drink offering was closely associated with death (or the end of a lifetime of service). In this way, it foreshadowed the pouring out of Jesus’ blood on the cross, which Jesus referenced in John 19:34, “This cup [my life], which is poured out for you [in My death], is the new covenant in My blood.” Jesus, in fact, embodied the concept of the drink offering from the moment He began His ministry around the age of 30. He was single-minded in His devotion to the mission set before Him: to minister to the needs of the hurting and hopeless, to suffer and die for our sins. Jesus was the ultimate—and last—Drink Offering ever to be poured out.
However, the concept of consecration, worship, and sacrifice is still required of God’s children. God requires that we “pour out” ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and sometimes monetarily, on behalf of others, particularly those God singles out in Scripture: the poor, the homeless, the widowed, the orphaned, the spiritually lost.
As drink offering imitators of Christ, that means we:
· set aside our selfishness—dying to self—and willingly, with joy, take up our crosses daily to serve and follow Jesus, no matter what it costs or where it takes us;
· do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant (important) than ourselves;
· show kindness, gentleness, patience, love, and being tenderhearted towards those who have wronged us; forgiving them as God in Christ forgave us;
· using our spiritual gifts—whatever they are—for the glory of God and the good of others.
Then, when we finally stand before our Father, fully drained of the life and ministry He gave us to do, we’ll hear these blessed words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
In short, don’t waste the life you’ve been given. You have a God-given purpose, and that is to be poured out in the service and worship of your King and your “neighbor.”