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Is your bucket still full of sand?


Serving others. As believers, it should be a large part of our lives. After all, that’s how we live out our faith in Christ, right?

But I think if we are honest, we spend more of our days serving ourselves than those around us. I don’t think we necessarily mean to focus mostly on ourselves. It’s just that serving others seems to be like every other thing in our walk with Christ: If we aren’t intentional about it, it just doesn’t happen.

So what does that look like, giving service to others? Well, it can be anything really, anything that glorifies Christ. It might be something as simple as writing a letter or sending an encouraging card to someone you know is having a hard time. It might be calling someone who doesn’t have a lot of connection with others — like an elderly person living on her own. It might be helping someone get tree branches out of his yard after a storm.

I think the idea is to be proactive and see the need in another’s life and then try to fill it as best we can. Some things might take a little more effort than others, but when serving Christ by serving others is our goal, the church works the way it should. Christ is glorified, and people are drawn to him.

But how can we be more intentional about it? Well for that, I will defer to my husband’s sermon illustration requiring a bucket and some sand. It works like this: Each Sunday, you bring your bucket to church. Upon leaving, the pastor shakes your hand and proceeds to shovel sand into your bucket, filling it almost to overflowing. You head out the door, bucket in hand.

As you go throughout the week, every time you help someone, you grab your yellow, plastic beach shovel and scoop out a shovelful of the sand. The idea is that by the time you arrive back at church the next Sunday, your bucket is empty, only to be re-filled again, ready for the upcoming week.

However, if you have not been busy “emptying your bucket,” you leave that bucket and its sand at home and grab the empty bucket that’s been hiding in the corner. The pastor again takes sand from his stockpile and fills the bucket in your hand, sending you out to serve.

But if that service never happens, the sand stays with you and your home becomes filled with buckets of sand. I like the beach, just not in my house.

That illustration seemed to have a profound effect on several who heard it. For instance, after the service, as we were standing around visiting, a church member hurriedly passed us by. When I looked at him in a questioning way, he said, “I’m just busy emptying my bucket.” Now, I have no idea what he was doing, but whatever it was, he understood the visual from the morning’s sermon. He was putting his desires, his wants, his personal time aside for the moment and helping someone else in need. Service was happening in the Body of Christ, and it was beautiful, as it should be. 

And the actions continued. More than once, I overheard people saying things about “emptying out” their buckets. I just pray it continues for them — and for you and me too.

Steve and Belinda Kirk write the “Everyday Grace” devotional for the Johnstonian News. Reach them at 919-449-5745 or