“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”
I don’t know where this quote came from but I love it. The way the world has become, we tend to go non-stop from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep. It’s no wonder we are exhausted, drained, stressed or any other adjective you can fill in. Consider this quote when reading the following Bible Verse:
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As a Christian, the Great Commission is our purpose and life’s work. Bringing the good news of Jesus to all the world (to make a really bad Star Trek reference) is our Prime Directive. As with anything we do for God, we should do our best and BE our best. If we are running on empty how can we be our best? Imagine trying to leave for work with an empty tank of gas. You wouldn’t get very far would you? This is the idea behind filling our cup.
For myself, this is where I believe the church (building) has one of it’s greatest purposes. Many churches have become social clubs and the love of Christ never leaves the confines of those walls. Imagine driving to a gas station, filling your car up with gas, and then returning the gas to the pump or leaving your car at the station. It doesn’t make much sense does it? I believe more churches should be encouraging it’s members to be more active in sharing God’s love and to not hold on to what we are given.
The great thing about the church is that we CAN go to get filled. Life is rough, and it’s good to be reminded of God’s promises, how to deal with certain situations in our life. You should walk out of church feeling invigorated, ready to take on the world. If you don’t feel that way, it might be time to look in the mirror and ask yourself a few questions. I believe one or two things would cause you to leave feeling the same way you did (or worse) as when you walked in.
- The church is the problem: It’s sad but true, in some cases, the church is just so disconnected from what’s going on in the world, disconnected from the struggles that people are facing, and have become more about a ritual than a relationship. Both large and small churches suffer from this, some even become more about the business and growing. Take a long hard look at your church and see whats going on. If the heart of the church is not centered on Christ (especially by it’s leaders but even the members too), it might be time to evaluate your reasons for staying.
- You are the problem: Ouch! Me wrong? Never! Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I would say we are all more at fault than the church. I know I’ve sometimes even caught myself just closing myself off to what God was saying through a message because I was in a bad mood or just wanted to say NO to God. Evaluate your attitude going into church. Are you coming with an expectant heart and excitement? Are you just making the trip because you should? Where is your heart at?
- A little bit of both: This is probably the most common scenario. Let’s be honest, no one is perfect. People have heart problems, the church is run by people, we should expect to deal with the enemy trying to tear us and our churches apart. The good news is we are aware of his schemes so we don’t have to fall for his lies and deception. The reality is there is fault on both ends, but as a Church (capital C) family we should be able to work through them.
I prefer the diversity of the church, God made us all different with different desires and passions, and I find beauty in the differences between how churches present the Gospel. Sometimes our tastes change over time, and that is OK. If you prayerfully determine that you are in a stale place, make a change and don’t be afraid to make a move be it through your church or yourself personally. Just make sure your heart and motives are in the right place. God loves you and he wants to invade your life, so let him. Find a place in your life where you can be fully open to him. We all start as baby Christians on milk (1 Corinthians 3:2) and I would hope we grow to solid food. Sometimes that growth requires a physical move and other times it requires a spiritual move, but the most important thing is to make sure your cup is being filled.
I also wanted to add, while filling your cup is of utmost importance, we should not do it at the expense of others. We are still to love others as Christ loves us. How you handle a situation should always be held up to a mirror of how Jesus would handle it. If you need to move on from a church or a relationship, do it dripping in Love. In the end you don’t have to answer to man, only to God, and if you do all things right by God, then you have fulfilled your obligation in a situation. Change is never easy, but God will always work it out for your God and his Glory.
I pray that all your cups would overflow and never empty and that you may be re-energized and revival fire would be sparked in your hearts.