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“Your Bucket is Filled!” Philippians 2: 1-11: Key verse(s): 4 “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

(Consider Your Neighbor!)

On a recent Saturday, awakening to a beautifully sunrise and cool breezes, I lazed in bed putting tasks upon the day’s plate. Apart from the usual chores that every Saturday brings like taking out the trash and perhaps mowing the lawn, on this particular Saturday I decided that the weather and my state of mind dictated a day spent cutting, splitting and stockpiling wood for the coming winter. I heaped the plate pretty full as I pictured in my mind each fallen limb that needed cutting and the stand of dead elms up near the highway that were threatening to topple over into traffic. I pieced together a schedule that included which tree to target first and how far things would progress by the time noon came around. Knowing that it would be a tight schedule if I was to finish by late afternoon. Cutting, splitting and hauling wood, especially in a wood lot covered with vines, hidden rocks and patches of poison ivy, can be tedious. While you are watching what you are cutting you also need to watch where you are walking. Nevertheless, after several hours of vibrating chain saws and bone rattling plunges with the splitter, I arrived at the end of my schedule for the day. The plate was clean. All that had been planned for the day was completed. I began to put away my tools and clean out the trailer I had used to haul innumerable pieces of wood that day. My bucket appeared pretty full and a deep sense of satisfaction began to seep into my aching bones.

As I was shutting the shed, tractor and tools safely tucked away for another week, my neighbor walked up to me looking a bit sheepish but nonetheless resolute. “Mark, I need your help! The door to my barn has come off the track and I sure would appreciate it if you could give me a hand.” I had finished my work for the day and the thought of a nice cool drink and slippers was on my mind. I was tired, a bit sore and very dirty. A hot shower sounded pretty good as well. Was it possible, I thought, to add more to the plate for the day? Wasn’t my bucket already filled up? “Sure!” I said. “I’m done here. I’ll be right up. Let me get a drink of water and I will be right over.” Well, what should have been a ten minute job ended up being a two hour sweat. The door was badly jammed and it took every ounce of strength we had to finally convince it to return to its track high above our heads. As I returned home back down into the valley below, I was a bit more sore, somewhat more dirty and ever so much more in need of that cool drink, the shower and those slippers. The remarkable thing though was this. I was still carrying that bucket and it hadn’t slopped over a bit. Remarkably, there was room for more.

It’s like that with our service to others when you think about it. We have a gracious God that takes care of our every need. If we treat each day as a day in which God will provide perfectly for our needs, we will find that not only are our needs met, but since we have put them in God’s hand, our time is free to serve others. The bucket always has room because our gracious God has provided for us and given us ample opportunity to focus our time and talents on the needs of others. As Martin Luther put it, “our faith suffices and all our works and all our life are left to Him to use in a free service of love to our neighbor.” (On the Freedom of a Christian, w.a. 7.35 f.) So, today, take another look at your bucket. The odds are that because of His blessings upon your life He has given you ample room to pour out your service to your neighbor.

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