Traditionally, today’s rhetorical question has been used to assign people to one of two groups: optimists and pessimists. The question highlights two contrasting points of view when looking at the very same thing. The optimist sees the glass as half full, demonstrating an attitude of gratitude and abundance. The pessimist sees the glass as half empty, demonstrating an attitude of thanklessness and scarcity.
How is it for you? Do you see your glass as half full? Or half empty?
Some people are uncomfortable with the question and respond tartly with phrases like, “It all depends on whether the person with the glass is in the process of filling it up or drinking it down . . . Just because I see the glass as half empty doesn’t make me a pessimist . . . Half of the glass is full of liquid and the other half is full of air.”
To be sure, your answer to this question is ultimately irrelevant; the important issue is your disposition as a child of the Most High God. What is relevant is the way you live out your faith before others and how you reflect the joy of the Lord.
“Half-fullers,” as I like to call them, see all of life as a gift from God. They realize that everything they have is a gift—not because they deserve any of it, but because God is so gracious to give it to them. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever!” they exult; and the more they have, the more they give thanks and praise to the One who has given it to them. We should always see our glass as half full, because it leads to living a full life before the face of God.
“Half-emptiers” are never satisfied with their portion, because they fail to see the Lord as their ultimate portion. They are focused on the “stuff” of life. If they have a job, they want a better-paying one. If they have a home, they want a bigger one. If they have a spouse, they want a newer one! They view life with dissatisfaction, always hoping for something better to come along. They live in the gloomy light of Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will! Half-emptiers have the proverbial dark cloud hanging over their head.
But this is not for you! We do not need to speculate about what our attitude should be about the glass; Paul’s letter to the Philippian Christians provides clear instruction:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Those who preach the gospel to themselves every day always see the glass as half full. In fact, they are simply thankful for whatever God has chosen to pour in their glass at that moment. The celebrated Confederate general, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, once said, ““I have so fixed the habit of prayer in my mind that I never raise a glass of water to my lips without asking God’s blessing.” “Stonewall” was standing on the Rock! He knew full well that we deserve nothing but judgment and condemnation; instead, if we have trusted in Christ’s atoning death on our behalf, we receive mercy and grace. We should be overwhelmed that, while we were still sinners, God would raise us from death to life! We should be awed by the inconceivable love of Christ and receive whatever comes our way with a heart of thanksgiving. Does this describe you?
Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not suggesting that we are to live lives devoid of dreams and desires. God created us for increase and we should desire increase in every area of our lives that further the purposes of God. What I am saying is that while we are dreaming, desiring, and doing everything we can to expand the cause of Christ for the glory of God, we should maintain an attitude of thanksgiving for whatever portion He delivers to us.
The glass is always half full for those who live Gospel-saturated lives, and their attitude of joy and abundance is evident to all who come in contact with them. This is the best picture we can show a broken and hurting world of our good, glorious, and gracious God.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!