I picked up the filled can and began the long trudge to the flower bed. What was that? Water was running down the leg that bumped the can as I walked, so I lifted the can and examined it. A steady stream of water poured out a tiny hole not quite halfway up its side.
After a moment’s thought, I picked up the pace and made it to the bed in time to pour most of the water on the flowers. Ordinarily after watering, I keep a full can next to the bed to fill the small bird bath next to it as needed, but that can would no longer hold even half its normal capacity. So after the watering, I returned to the well tank and filled it only halfway and sat it by the bath. I would have to fill it twice as often now, but at least I could get a most of a gallon out of it. Better than nothing.
We are a lot like that watering can. We should be filled to the capacity that God intended, but too often we don’t hold even half of it. Paul tells us we each receive a different gift according to the grace of God, Rom 12:6; Peter tells us to use that gift as a good steward of God’s grace, 1 Pet 4:10. Holes in the can mean we are not using those gifts as God designed, squandering His grace in the process.
Sometimes we deny the grace. “I can’t do that,” we say, when God has clearly put an opportunity in front of us. Have you ever given someone a gift and had them tell you that you didn’t? Of course not. Everyone knows that the giver knows what he gave, yet here we are being so ridiculous as to tell God He most certainly did not give us any gifts. God does not put opportunities in front of us that He has not given us the ability to handle. More than anyone else—even more that we ourselves—He knows what we can and cannot do. Denying the His grace is simply disobedience.
Sometimes we cheat the grace. “I’m too busy,” we tell people when something comes up. Never mind that the opportunity is squarely within my wheelhouse—if I don’t want to do it, being busy is the excuse of the day. In fact, sometimes we make ourselves busy with things we prefer in order to avoid more difficult spiritual obligations. It’s easier to work late one night than go visit a weak brother. It’s more fun to work out with a peer (“keeping my temple healthy”) than learn how to study with an older Christian who wants to share his hard-earned knowledge. Shopping must be done, but it is certainly less trouble—and a lot quicker--to go shopping alone than to take an older person who is no longer able to get out on her own. And thus our busy-ness has kept us from filling ourselves to capacity.
Sometimes we do our best to spoil the grace by poking the hole in ourselves. God has a purpose for each one of us. I can sabotage those plans by my own selfish choices in life. Worldliness and materialism can diminish my capacity for the spiritual. Bad habits can ruin a reputation and make me less effective. Bad decisions can make me unfit for God’s original plan for me. Even if I turn myself around and repent, I may never again have the same impact I would have if I had made better choices earlier in life. I may very well have drilled a hole in the can so that it will only hold half or less what God intended it to hold.
Take a good look at your watering can this morning. God knows better than you how much it can hold. Don’t deny the grace; don’t squander the opportunities. Don’t drill a hole where one doesn’t belong. Capacity is His business, not yours, and what He wants is an overflowing can.
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:20-21.