“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
In one of my Sunday School classes this past year, we were given the most amazing example that I want to share with you. Imagine that I filled a cup with water and held it straight out next to me in my hand. Then, I asked Jimboy to come shake my arm as hard as he could. What would happen? The water would spill everywhere, right? But why?
Most people would say the water spilled because Jimboy shook my arm. But that’s not actually why water spilled out of the cup. If I filled the same cup with coke and asked Jimboy to shake my arm, would water spill out? Nope - coke would. Do you see where I’m headed with this? The reason water, coke, or whatever else spills out of the cup is because that is what is in the cup.
Seems a little bit like a trick question, huh? But now, think about it this way: that cup is a representation of you and me. There will always be moments when we are shaken in life - things won’t go our way; we’ll have bad days or moments. And the liquid in the cup represents our reactions when things don’t go our way.
As humans, we like to blame our reactions on what happens to us externally, but really, what spills out of us when we are shaken is what we have chosen to fill ourselves with. Are you filling yourself with things that will spill out anger, frustration and bitterness? Or are you filling yourself with things that will spill out love and kindness and understanding?
As Christians, we are called to fill ourselves with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. That can be hard in the world today!
TV and movies and the Internet are loaded with the exact opposite of those things. That is one of the things that I love so much about camp! We make choices that fill us with good - we listen to good music, have positive conversations, pray multiple times every day…. God is in the center of everything at camp, and because of that we are constantly filling ourselves with Him.
Getting practice for that at camp is a great way to prepare ourselves for being at home. We all know exactly what is and isn’t “camp appropriate.” Guess what: the directors at camp want things that are “camp appropriate” to be things that are true, pure, lovely, etc… So when you are at home, and a song comes on the radio that you know isn’t camp appropriate - well it probably isn’t something you should be thinking on. That’s not such a hard way to figure it out, is it?
There is so much in today that is the opposite of what we should focus on as Christians that I know it is hard to always make sure we are filling ourselves with good. The great news is that the more we turn towards Jesus and ask for God’s help to focus on positive things instead of negative things, the easier it gets!
Over time, as it gets easier and easier, you’ll find yourself being filled with and spilling out love, joy, and peace, spreading the love of Christ to everyone around you!