“The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.” Romans 7:14b-15a (NLT)
I’m always in a hurry.
I put on my socks two at a time. I lace up my tennis shoes while I run to save a couple of minutes. I order sushi so I don’t have to wait for them to cook the fish — and I don’t even like sushi.
When I’m not in a hurry, I spend my time being impatient. It’s so extreme, sometimes I think I make coffee nervous. While living my life this way has worked great for me, I started to wonder how it was working for the people around me. So I asked. Guess what I found out? My impatience was driving them nuts.
A few weeks later, I found a beautiful kids’ book that changed everything for me. It was a book about buckets, and its premise was simple: We become in our lives what we put in our buckets. I knew what I needed to fill mine with: patience.
I decided to put the book to the test, so I went to a hardware store and bought a metal bucket. I carried it everywhere for three weeks as an experiment. Galvanized aluminum and a wire handle ... I looked like a dairy farmer. I took my bucket with me in cars, sailboats, subways — everywhere. People would ask if I had a bladder problem. “Actually,” I’d say jokingly, “I do.”
But then I would say, “I have an even bigger problem. I’m really impatient.” I let them know how I used the bucket as a reminder to fill my life with patience every day.
If we fill our buckets with a bunch of business deals, we’ll turn into businesspeople. If we fill them with arguments, we’ll become lawyers. If we fill them with a critical spirit, we’ll become cynics. If we fill them with joy, we’ll experience tremendous happiness. I believed in the concept behind the bucket so wholeheartedly, I filled my bucket with sprinkled doughnuts one day just to see what would happen. Here’s the simple message Jesus has for us: If we fill our buckets with love, we can actually become love.
We can pretend to have all the “game” we want, but it’s how we engage with the grocery bagger or the bank teller or the auto mechanic that lets everybody know where we really are with Jesus. I still get it wrong more than I get it right.
People will figure out what we really believe by seeing what we actually do. Though often I try to make it look otherwise, most of the time I make everything about me. My schedule and my timing, how I’m feeling and how big of a hurry I’m in. Kind of like Paul in the Bible, I talk a good game, but I find myself doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t do (and not doing what I said I would do). “The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.” (Romans 7:14b-15a)
Slowly, I’m acting like my purpose is to love God and the people around me the way Jesus loved. As much as I’d like to make it more complicated and cover for my inaction, it’s really that simple.
People don’t grow where they’re planted; they grow where they’re loved. Knowing things about the Bible is terrific. But I’d trade a dozen Bible studies for a bucket full of acceptance — and truth be told, so would everyone around us.
I realize I looked pretty silly with my bucket, but I probably look even sillier with all my pride, selfishness and impatience. Even more to people closest to me.
I still mess up more than I want. When I do, instead of beating myself up, I hear Jesus’ gentle and kind voice reminding me again to stop laying sod where He’s planting seed in my life. His reason is simple: God’s more interested in making us grow than having us look finished. He wants me to realize I’m just not quite there yet.
Dear God, help me fill my bucket with more love, so I can pour it out for the sake of others. Give me strength and courage to become love. May my actions reflect my belief in You. Help me to not just see the people who need love, but actually show them Your love. Thank You for Your loving-kindness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)
Bob Goff’s latest book shares the secret of living without fear, constraint or worry. Everybody Always points the way to embodying love by doing the unexpected, the intimidating, the seemingly impossible. Click to purchase your copy.
Bob is the longest-serving volunteer at Love Does and chief balloon inflator. His passion is people, and he’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @bobgoff. Give him a call at (619) 985-4747.
Love Does is dedicated to helping kids in these areas including Iraq, Somalia, Uganda, Nepal and India. Find out more about Love Does at www.lovedoes.org.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
It’s easy to love people who love us — making us believe that we’re pretty good at love. But what about the people who are different from us — who make loving them difficult or scary? How can you learn to love people, even the ones that creep you out? Let us hear your thoughts!