When I was a boy, our family would spend a couple of weeks vacationing on my uncle’s farm. We helped out with the chores and learned a lot about farming. One of the more difficult tasks for me to master was milking the cows. One of the things I could do to help was to carry two pails of milk from the barn to the room where a separator was used to separate the cream. My uncle had a yoke with which to carry the pails. A yoke is a wooden carrying device shaped to fit comfortably over the shoulders with a metal hook on each side on which two pails can be hung. It was a lot easier than holding two pails with my hands.
The only thing a person had to be careful of when carrying two full pails of milk was not to bump into anything or anyone. It took a few trips to get used to entering the little shed where the separator stood and once or twice I bumped the side of the door quite hard. Guess what came out of the pails? No, it was not lemonade, soda pop, or even water—it was milk. Every time anyone carried two pails of milk and bumped something, it was always milk that spilled onto the ground.
There are a lot of great lessons to be learned on a farm. I never did learn to milk a cow very well, but I was good at carrying milk, using the separator, and cleaning the barn. There is a spill-over from lessons a person learns while working, as long as we are alert enough to recognize those greater applications. I have found many helpful pieces of knowledge which continually crop up in the spiritual applications to life. I believe God has designed us to learn lessons by doing certain tasks and then applying those lessons to everyday life.
As we live our lives, we are constantly trying to negotiate our way through smaller doorways—occasionally we are going to bump into a doorway or, worse yet, we will bump into people. With my four cousins and all of us going in and out of the barn, even the cows got nervous. In a way, we all carry pails of attitudes which, when spilled, tell the world what we are really like. It is not until we get bumped hard enough when what is in our pails is spilled. It is in unexpected circumstances when what we carry deep in out hearts spills out.
Some people look at a garden and see weeds, while others see flowers. Some people realize that accidents happen to all—the good and the not-so-good. Some people realize that there are many circumstances in life fashioning and forming us. Some realize that when we mature, we have the ability and opportunity to see what is in our pails.
What does our pail reveal?
Paul wrote that we reap that which we sow (Galatians 6:7 Galatians 6:7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
American King James Version×). This was not new knowledge; it is something that has always been true. He also wrote that he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6 2 Corinthians 9:6But this I say, He which sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
American King James Version×). We may find it difficult to see exactly what is in our pails as we go through life—and the contents in our pails change (unlike the milk). If our lives are full of attitudes of anger, grouchiness, pessimism, bad temper, or an ugly disposition—this is what will spill out of our pail every time someone bumps into us. If our lives are full of attitudes of kindness, understanding, cheerfulness, geniality, optimism, and friendliness—this is what will spill out of our pails.
We can carry bad attitudes for some time without revealing too much about our inner selves but bumps come unexpectedly and that is when you find out what is really inside of another person. The bigger the bump, the bigger the spill will be. If we are alert, we will see what is really in the pails we carry. If our lives are happy and full of good things you can be sure the pails we carry are full of the right stuff. If we have few friends and life seems to be a chore we do not enjoy, then we need to change what is in our pails.
The good thing is we humans do have the ability to change what we carry, as long as we have the will to change it. An attitude of being positive, doing the best we can do, and helping others as we also help and improve ourselves is necessary to being happy and content. It is as essential as water is to a fish, the sky to the birds, and the earth to worms. This is a law that is absolute—you reap what you sow.
The book of Proverbs did not appear in the Bible by accident. It is full of wisdom and help in ensuring that our lives are as happy as God intended. Problems will come and we will bump people and doors, but we can be sure that what spills from our pails is a blessing to ourselves and to others. Much is written about the heart and what is inside of a person. Attitudes, disposition, and character reside internally. That is what our pails contain. We can know these absolutes of behavior and reap the benefit of obeying the Author.
Here are a few examples:
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1 Proverbs 22:1A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
American King James Version×). Guard your name and reputation and be concerned about other people.
“He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (Proverbs 21:17 Proverbs 21:17He that loves pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loves wine and oil shall not be rich.
American King James Version×). Success requires hard work, diligence, and self-control.
“Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (Proverbs 22:24 Proverbs 22:24Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man you shall not go:
American King James Version×, 25). Bad company leads to bad manners.
“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28 Proverbs 25:28He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
American King James Version×). Take the time to work on attitudes harmful to yourself and others.
“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (Proverbs 29:11 Proverbs 29:11A fool utters all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.
American King James Version×). We can all get angry and frustrated—what we need is to control the anger.
“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5 Proverbs 1:5A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain to wise counsels:
American King James Version×). We can change the contents of our pails.
About wisdom: “Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will keep you” (Proverbs 4:6 Proverbs 4:6Forsake her not, and she shall preserve you: love her, and she shall keep you.
American King James Version×). We grow in grace and knowledge when we put our minds to it. The ingredient driving all of this is the will.
Grow in grace and knowledge
Christians are commanded to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 1:5-9 2 Peter 1:5-9 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
American King James Version×). Peter was known to react strongly when he was bumped before his conversion. He also came to know the need to change what manner of man he was. His words are written from experience and understanding.
Peter advises us all to give diligence to adding virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, and brotherly kindness to what and who we are. He tells us if we possess these items we will never stumble and will make our calling and election sure. It is a comfort to know there are things we can do to ensure our election and future.
Jesus Christ was always mindful that He carried the “express image” of the Father (Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
American King James Version×). He was responsible for what people thought about God by His own actions. That responsibility has been passed on to us, though we live almost 2000 years after Christ became the Passover Lamb. True followers realize the pails they carry should represent the nature and character of Jesus Christ. The people we bump into are looking, as are angels. We carry that load carefully, but as He said, His yoke is easy and light (Matthew 11:30 Matthew 11:30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
American King James Version×). It is like being on a vacation on a farm—it can be fun.