…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
Are you a “glass half-empty” person or a “glass half-full” person? Often people easily categorize others as optimists or pessimists. The optimists feel good about themselves because “who wants to point out the dark side of everything?” The pessimists usually like to claim that they are “realists” who refuse to look at life through “rose colored glasses”, but take on problems in order to make things better for others.
Certainly it is easy to categorize personalities as having a “default bent” in one direction or the other. The bigger question for a disciple of Christ is this: is it ok for us to set up this dichotomy? Paul is defending his gospel ministry by pointing out that he saw great victories of the Spirit and difficult set-backs. What distinguished his ministry as “God-centered” was not that everything went favorable or led to visible success and fruitfulness.
At times he was sorrowful and totally impoverished and even at times feeling as if he had nothing. This wasn’t “glass half-empty”; it was “glass totally empty” living. At the same time he says that while he was experiencing sorrow, poverty, and nothingness he was also experiencing joy, richness, and everything. This wasn’t “glass half-full” living; this was “glass totally full” living.
Paul is pointing out that maturity in our relationship with God is measured by our perspective. If our perspective is God-centered, we will be able to identify the sin and failures and disappointments of ourself and others. We don’t have to cover them up or ignore the pain or act as if poverty or sorrow or nothingness does not exist. At the same time when we are God-centered we are not controlled by the bitter taste of coming to the end of ourselves or others. We can rejoice, live in rich confidence, and look for renewed hope and help in “everything”. This is because our perspective allows us to be more honest and hopeful than we could be on our own. We can be both disappointed and confident at the same time. But it takes “total emptiness” and “total filling”.
Emotions are actually great windows into our souls. When we are FEELING anything it is important to analyze what we are FILLING our hearts and minds with. We might be FEELING proud because something has gone our way and we have FILLED our heart with pride. A God-centered perspective empties our hearts of pride and we PRAISE God for the provision or protection we are FEELING. We might be FEELING fearful or anxious about our financial support (or lack of support) or our perceived lack of ministry fruitfulness. We might be FEELING this way because we are FILLING our hearts with an effort to hope in our own abilities or contacts, or persuasiveness. We know we are not “partially able” to produce true spiritual fruit. We are totally incapable of this. We must empty our hearts of self-absorbed feelings and FILL our minds and hearts with the Gospel (God’s great promises and His Powerful Character).
Martin Lloyd Jones once said “most of our problems in life are the result of us listening to ourselves rather than talking to ourselves.” The gospel demands that we talk to our hearts and that we always tilt toward hopefulness. “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus”. God-centered perspective includes both the honest and hopeful messages we play in the videos of our minds.
What are you FEELING this morning? What are you FILLING your mind and heart with? Be a “GLASS TOTALLY EMPTY AND COMPLETELY FULL” TODAY! Take hold of the truth that in Christ you “possess everything”.
-Mike Hearon (CO Global Servant Team)
Pray for CO Houston:
God to allow us to focus in on the opportunities He has given us and expand the Gospel in the areas He has placed us in
- New staff to join us on our campuses