Episode 1. Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
There are two ways of looking at a glass of water – either it’s half empty or half full. What’s your natural perspective? Why does it matter – because our perspective is going to determine …
When you look at a glass of water what do you see? A glass half empty or a glass half full? Do you see the goodness that you have in hand or do you focus on all the things that might go wrong? The answer to those questions has a lot to do with how you’re going to live the rest of your life.
Hey it’s great to be with you again at the beginning of another week and I’m really excited because today we’re taking a look at the powerful concept of joy. Can I ask you, do you enjoy being around people who are grumpy and upset all the time? People who are under pressure and they snap at you. Do you enjoy being part of a team where everyone’s downcast, where no one is at all positive about anything in their life?
None of us do, do we? It’s horrible when it’s like that. I remember being on a sporting team once as a young man and we didn’t win a single game in the season. It got to the point where we would go out onto the field believing, just knowing that we were going to lose, and time and time again we’d fulfil our expectations. No it wasn’t a lot of fun at all.
We’ve been chatting these past few weeks about how you and I can be a blessing. See some people are a blessing others are more of a burden. Some people are assets others are more of a liability. Some people are problem solvers and others, well they’re just part of the problem.
And if you and I want to live the life that God has planned for us, the sort of life that’s really worth living we need to be on the positive side of that register not on the minus side, would you agree? So let me ask you again, are you a glass half full kind of person or do you have a glass half empty perspective on life – because perspective is everything.
Imagine that you’re a young person and you decide to go a buy a car. You don’t have a lot of money so you buy a second hand car, it’s got a lot of miles on the clock, it’s not the most expensive, it’s not the flashiest car but you know it’s sound, it’s going to get you from A to B reliably but you’re constantly comparing your car to the cars other people drive, it seems they have bigger, more expensive cars, more impressive modes of transport.
The glass half empty kind of person is going to complain and feel dissatisfied with their purchase, they’ll never be happy, they’ll never be content. The glass half full kind of person on the other hand is going to be delighted. Okay so it’s not the most impressive motor vehicle on the road but you know something, it saves me from having to wait for the bus in the rain and that is just fantastic.
I love what it says in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs chapter 17, verse 22:
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”
I like being around cheerful people. Cheerful people are content with what they have. Cheerful people have a sense of contentment and joy, they don’t always find fault, they’re not looking for the problems that might be just around the next corner. Cheerful people are the people who put their trust and their hope in Jesus Christ. They’re the sort of people we really want to be around.
I once worked with a man, he was a good few years older than me, he was always looking forward to the next thing, he was always anticipating something good. Okay sometimes good things happen to us and sometimes, well sometimes we end up having a lousy day but that didn’t seem to deter him, he was always looking forward to the next good thing.
He was a glass half full kind of person, realistic, practical but cheerful. I learned a lot from him; in fact he used to have more of an impact on my life than almost anyone else. We worked together for a good twenty years as business partners, as friends and he is my mentor, teaching me not just his skills but his outlook on life. What a great guy to be around.
On the other side of the equation there was another man in our company, he was a few years older than me too, who never saw any good in anything and I think the second part of that Proverb we just looked at totally describes this guy.
“A cheerful heart is a good medicine but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”
Is there anything more desolate, more life draining than the picture of dry bones? It speaks of a complete absence of life. Hey not even the birds come to pick the flesh off the dry bones because there’s no life left, there’s nothing of sustenance left.
People like that drain the life out of themselves and out of the people around them. The problem is some people, and you might well be one of them, do have that sort of outlook on life. Seeing that the glass is always half empty instead of half full is simply a way of life for some people and those people, come on, those people are more of a liability than an asset, they’re more of a burden than a blessing.
We all go through some negativity at times, so whether it’s a now and then thing for you or whether it’s a whole way of life for you, I want to encourage you today to change your outlook. I used to be a really negative person because things never used to satisfy me. One of the biggest things that impacted my life is working closely with that business partner of mine that I mentioned earlier and picking up by experience his positive perspectives on life, even on the difficulties we travelled through.
You see being happy, being contented, looking for the good in every circumstance or situation isn’t just some airy fairy goal that we should aspire to, being cheerful and being positive most of the time actually works. See it makes for a much better life. Listen again:
“A Cheerful heart is a good medicine but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”
See it’s that blessing or burden, asset or liability, problem solver or problem thing again. Is your countenance, your outlook, your heart attitude good medicine to the people around you or do you dry up their bones, do you sap the life out of them? It’s time to take a good hard look in the mirror and if you don’t like what you’re seeing then it’s time to do something about it.
And allow me to let you in on a little secret here because the contentment that I feel which most of the time, 80 – 90% of the time gives me a cheerful heart isn’t something I’m able to conjure out of thin air, it’s not something I rustle up on my own from somewhere on a daily basis, you know why? Because my circumstances don’t always give me call for celebration. Some days, quite frankly, are tough. Some days I find it hard to do what I’m called to do just in the same way that you some days find it hard to do what you’re called to do.
So the source of my cheerfulness isn’t sort of self motivation, self help, gee myself up rah, rah, rah. The source of my cheerfulness is God Himself through His mighty promise that Jesus made to His disciples. Listen to this, John chapter 16, verse 33, Jesus is about to be crucified, the disciples are afraid, their whole world is falling apart, they’re in fear of their own lives and He says:
‘Look guys, I’ve been telling you all this stuff in this time of fear so that you might have peace because, let me tell you, in this world you will have tribulations, that’s absolutely a promise but be of good cheer because I’ve overcome the world.‘
Jesus understands trial and sorrow. Back in the Book of Isaiah it describes Him as a man of suffering, acquainted with infirmity, a man from whom others would hide their faces, a man who was despised, whom people would hold of no account. Isaiah chapter 53, verse 3.
And yet Jesus overcame the world, He died for my sin, He died for your sin, He rose again so that you and I can have a fresh new awesome abundant life here on this earth and for all eternity. That’s the big picture, that’s the reality, that’s the powerful mighty truth that these days, informs my whole perspective on life.
Jesus rose again. Hallelujah. That’s awesome. Yes He overcame the world, He did it not just for Himself, He did it for you and for me. That’s what brings peace amidst turmoil, that’s what brings cheer amidst tribulation, Jesus plain and simple and though I’ve searched far and wide, I’ve left no stone unturned I’ve never found that good cheer, that joy in the face of pressure and tribulation anywhere else.
Yes, God used other people in my life to show it to me but He and He alone is the source of my joy. That cheerful heart is indeed a good medicine.