Is the traffic annoying you? Or your boss? Does that sin that has been hounding you for years keep showing up in your life? Do you find yourself filled with fear about certain things? Are your days filled with frustrations? Do they seem to be filled only with negativity – pain, sadness, fear, uncertainty and doubt? Do these bad things seem to pile up and your days are bad more often than not? Maybe you even identify with Jeremiah in Lamentations.
17 I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. 18 So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I hoped from the Lord.”
– Lamentations 3:17-18
I may not be in Jeremiah’s sandals right now, but I can identify with some of those things. I do find, though, that if I give these things to God throughout the day, each morning, I feel like I have somewhat of a fresh start.
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
– Lamentations 3:22-23
Recently, I ran across this analogy and thought that it did a great job describing my life. It has helped me and maybe it will help you.
Let’s picture that our spirit is a jar that is empty every morning. Immediately after we wake, we have a series of choices about what we are going to put into that jar. All day long, we can choose to fill it with things of the spirit or things of the world. We can choose to mix in sin, fear, pride and hatred or service, love, kindness and joy. We can mix in some prayer, Bible reading and worship music or political arguments, social media comparison and news that drives more fear than faith.
Obviously, it’s pretty hard to fill our jars with only things of the spirit. The world intrudes and negative stuff gets dropped into our jar. It’s going to be a mix that changes throughout the day.
Here is the thing – What if we purposefully choose to fill our jar with light and not darkness? Instead of scrolling Insta or Facebook first thing in the morning, what if we chose to read the Bible or a devotional? Instead of listening to depressing and fear-inducing news, we chose to listen to worship music or a Christian podcast or sermon? What if while waiting in traffic and venting our frustration, we prayed for those around us or for our family or pastor? Instead of texting co-workers during that marathon conference call, we texted people we know to tell them how much we appreciate them? The ideas are endless.
But, what is any of this going to do? How will it help? The point of the analogy is that if we fill our jar with stars, there is little room left for rocks. Beyond that, have you noticed that when you look up in the sky and spot that first star of the night, that you begin to see more and more stars? They are endless! The same thing happens when we start placing stars into our jar – they just seem to multiply – Light adding to light.
Paul explains how this works in Galatians 5. He lists the rocks in verses 19-21 and the Spirit stars that multiply in verses 22-23.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. – Galatians 5:19-21
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23
Finally, Paul confirms that if we fill our jar with stars, we won’t have any room left for the rocks.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. – Galatians 5:16-18