“Is the glass half empty or half full?” is a proverbial phrase, used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for pessimism or optimism, but there are other viewpoints too, like realism, or as litmus test to try to simply determine an individual’s worldview.
Is the Glass Half Empty or is the Glass Half Full?
You see a glass with water in it. The water is at the half-way mark in the glass.
Which leads to the question:
Is the glass half empty?
Or is the glass half full?
How would you choose to describe it?
A glass containing water to the half-way point is often used to point out the difference between optimists and pessimists.
The optimist sees the glass as half full – focusing more on what is there and all that could be done with half a glass of water.
The pessimist sees the glass as half empty – focusing more on half the water being gone and, eventually, the glass becoming empty.
Are you the optimist? Or are you the pessimist?
While some people are naturally more optimistic than others, we all get to wake up every day and choose whether we are going to be a glass half-full or a glass half-empty person.
Each day offers us the opportunity to make choices in our life.
We can spend the day cleaning or spend the day reading.
We can go out to dinner or cook at home.
We can set our alarm early to go to the gym or we can sleep in and skip our workout.
We can choose to think positively, or we can choose to think negatively.
Being optimistic or pessimistic is a daily choice we all have.
If you believe you are a natural-born pessimist and you do not have the choice of whether or not to be optimistic or whether or not you are able to control your outlook on God and life mindset, think again. You can learn to be optimistic.
When we seem to be “stuck” in that “natural born pessimist” mindset with no perceived way forward
– as every question we ask, and answer is answered by “no” “leave me alone, why you don’t just get lost – and stop bothering me!”
We can learn to be optimistic and see the possibilities God places before us.
Because, technically, the glass is always full.
Yes, the cup is half filled with water, but the rest of the cup is filled with Oxygen.
Or, to think from God’s perspective –
A cup (You, Me) which we perceive as only being half filled with water –
the remainder of the cup is topped off with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul faced much opposition in ministry.
He was forced to change his plans on numerous occasions, and yet he chose to see the possibilities instead of the obstacles.
As Christians, we also will face up to difficulties, but we must maintain our perspective, seeing ‘God’ possibilities.
Glass half – full or Glass half – empty or Glass 100% God-filled?
See the Possibilities yet?
2 Corinthians 2:12-17 Amplified Bible
12 Now when I arrived at Troas to preach the good news of Christ, even though a door [of opportunity] opened for me in the Lord, 13 my spirit could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there; so, saying goodbye to them, I left for Macedonia.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him. 15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the latter one an aroma from death to death [a fatal, offensive odor], but to the other an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is adequate and sufficiently qualified for these things? 17 For we are not like many, [acting like merchants] peddling God’s word [shortchanging and adulterating God’s message]; but from pure [uncompromised] motives, as [commissioned and sent] from God, we speak [His message] in Christ in the sight of God.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
As we read and study Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, we discover his ministry there was difficult at best.
The church was situated in a city that was morally corrupt, and its influence was showing up and growing up in starkly negative ways within the church.
Paul’s authority came into question among some within the church, and it seemed that he was forced to constantly deal with one issue after another.
Facing such adversity and opposition, it would have been easy to have grown discouraged. Some would have been tempted to abandon the work altogether.
However, Paul refused to give up on the Corinthian church.
He chose to focus on unseen possibilities for growth rather than the many obstacles the work there presented.
Paul decided to consider the opportunities instead of the opposition.
Our situation is much different today, and yet there are similarities.
Our world is rapidly changing, the church must respond to that challenge and yet we must also continue to testify, to bear the true witness of the Gospel.
Like Apostle Paul, we too must focus on the opportunities we have instead of the increasing opposition.
Soon we are going to be celebrating The Pentecost – the birthday of the Church.
Ahead of us again, lie all the endless opportunities for bringing others to Christ.
I want each of us to consider the expectations of Paul in our text as we think on the challenge of:
“Half-Full versus Half-Empty – Seeing God’s Possibilities.”
I. A Day of Opportunity (12-13) – Here Paul speaks of a previous season that wasn’t exactly as he had planned, and yet he sought opportunity to serve the Lord.
A. The Provision (verse 12) – Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord.
Paul speaks of arriving in Troas, a city in Asia Minor, east of Corinth on the opposite side of the Aegean Sea.
He came with the intent of preaching the Gospel, and God was faithful to open a door for him to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Paul rejoiced for the fruitful ministry at Troas and the provision of God in providing opportunities to preach.
As we approach the celebration of the Pentecost, we need to continue to strive to do so with the commitment and desire of Paul.
He did not sit and wait for an opportunity to present itself; he went to Troas, intending to share the Gospel.
If we will likewise determine within our hearts to serve the Lord and share our faith with others, God will be faithful to ‘fill’, provide opportunities to do so!
B. The Problem (verse 13a) – I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother.
Most agree Paul had sent Titus to Corinth, bearing the first letter written to the church there, with the anticipation of meeting him again in Troas.
When Paul arrived in Troas, Titus was not there.
This caused great concern, troubling the spirit of Paul.
He was anxious to hear a report from Titus regarding the well-being of the church in Corinth.
Clearly Paul is deeply burdened for the church and desired to know if things had improved.
As we study the ministries of Paul, we discover numerous occasions where trouble and adversity abounded.
Things did not always go as planned, and Paul was forced to deal with problems in ministry.
Adversity and trouble are somethings we all have; we don’t have to seek it; trouble will find us.
The coming months and years will have its problems, but we must not allow sudden adversity or unforeseen events to hinder our commitment to the Lord.
C. The Perseverance (verse 13b) – but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.
The plan was to meet Titus in Troas, but with the unanticipated change, Paul refused to allow this issue to hinder or overwhelm his focus in ministry.
Having met the current need in Troas, he went on to Macedonia, to minister to the Philippian church.
Paul refused to allow a momentary setback to dictate his course of action.
Although things had not gone as planned, he was steadfast and determined to continue in ministry.
Such steadfast perseverance requires faith-filled faithfulness and committed resolve, but it is critical, utterly necessary if we are to be fruitful for the Lord.
When adversity comes, or plans change suddenly, we must adapt to the current situation and press on for the Lord alone.
There is too much at stake to allow an inconvenience or personal setback hinder our labor for the Lord and the Gospel.
II. A Day of Optimism (verses 14-16a) –
Here we find that Paul remained optimistic about his ministry, even in the face of mounting difficulty. His optimism was influenced by:
A. God’s Favor (verse 14a) – Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.
There had been setbacks in Troas, and the church in Corinth was in turmoil.
Paul had dealt with adversity, and yet he was not discouraged.
He praised God for His favor, knowing he was always triumphant in Christ.
Regardless of what mountains high and death valley’s low adversity we face in life or ministry, we can always be optimistic, “keep our chins up,” in Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58Amplified Bible
57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].
No matter what, we are victorious through Him, even in the face of difficulty!
He secured our victory over sin and death as He died to redeem us and rose again in resurrection life.
B. God’ Faithfulness (verse 14b) – Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
Paul’s plans may have changed, but the Lord remained faithful unto him.
God provided opportunities for Paul to share the Gospel, and the good news of Jesus Christ was going forth unto those who had yet to hear.
Paul rejoiced that God was not limited to a particular place or region; He could provide opportunities and bring about salvation wherever He pleased.
We need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness to His Word and His commitment to the lost and perishing.
Jesus died to save men from their sin.
He is not limited to those placed specifically within our comfort zones or desired areas of service.
If we are faithful to follow the direction of the Lord, wherever He leads, He will be faithful to equip us and provide the results He desires!
C. Our Fragrance (verses 15-16a) – For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:  To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life.
Paul remained optimistic because he knew the sweet fragrance faithful service emitted.
His commitment to the Lord provided a sweet fragrance to the Lord and to those with whom he came in contact.
His life of devotion to the truth of God made a significant impact on others.
This fragrance affected:
The Saved – Paul’s committed service would be noticed by others in the church.
Although he faced challenges, his commitment would encourage others in the faith.
His perseverance would allow him to be a blessing to the church, helping equip others for ministry.
As we live our lives faithfully for Christ and Christ alone, we impact the lives of others.
My life has been challenged and enriched by those who were committed to the truth of the Lord, regardless of my presenting, oncoming circumstances.
The Sinner – To the one we are the savour of death unto death.
I know that sounds incredibly morbid, but it is true, nonetheless.
As we live our lives for Christ, among those who have yet to respond to the Gospel, we bear witness for the Lord, and of their need for Him.
Our lives reveal resurrection life in Christ, and also bear witness of the dead condition of the unsaved.
Our ‘resurrected’ lives emit a sweet fragrance that is noticed by both the saved and the sinner, bearing witness of their spiritual condition.
III. A Day for Obedience (verses 16b-17) – Finally Paul reveals the need for committed obedience while serving the Lord. Consider:
A. The Inquiry (verse 16b) – And who is sufficient for these things?
Paul posed a sobering question – who is sufficient to be a witness for Christ, literally producing a sweet fragrance for Him?
Paul knew apart from Christ; none could provide an effective witness.
Only those who were totally committed to the Lord, completely surrendered to His will for their lives, could produce such a fragrance.
Paul wanted those in the church to ponder their lives and discern whether they produced such a fragrance.
It was possible, but it required a faith-filled and faith(full) commitment.
The question remains today and begs to be answered.
I am aware that each of our lives produce a fragrance noticed by others.
Do we emit a sweet fragrance for the Lord, one that enriches the lives of believers and challenges the unbeliever to look to Christ for salvation?
Are we living in such a way that others notice our commitment to Christ?
Are we making a positive impact for the Lord? If not, we really should be!
B. The Clarity (verse 17a) – For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God.
Many in Paul’s day sought to corrupt the Word of God, living lives of deceit and spreading false doctrine.
Their lives certainly made an impact, but it wasn’t positive or fruitful.
The church is called to a higher standard.
We are supposed to be different from the world, expected to maintain a positive witness for Christ, one that testifies of His true grace and points others to Him.
Even in the face of our increased doubt and negative speculation regarding the Word, we must remain ever faithful to the Word, 100% continue to truthfully present it unto a world that does not desire it, but so desperately needs it!
C. The Sincerity (verse 17b) – For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Many had corrupted the Word, refusing to conform to its holy standard, while trying to pervert its doctrines to conform to the desires of men.
Paul remained true and committed to the Word and refused to depart from it.
He sought a life of purity and righteousness before the Lord, seeking to point men to Jesus Christ, the sole means of salvation.
His heart was fixed on the Gospel, and he had no other message to share!
As our world continues to change, opposition to the Gospel and our faith will increase.
The pressures to conform to the dictates of society will continue to grow.
Sadly, many will give in and abandon the truth of God’s Word, seeking the approval and acceptance of men.
God needs those, like Paul, who are passionately committed to the truth of the Word. We must remain faithful to share the Gospel within our culture.
Society is utterly ruined by sin, and Jesus is the only hope for humanity. We must live pure lives among our peers, while standing firm upon the Word!
Conclusion: This has been a challenging passage that is relevant for our day.
As we approach the Pentecoat, we are facing new and ever more exciting Days of new Opportunity, Days for new Optimism, and Days that require Obedience.
Are we still committed to serving the Lord in an ever-changing environment?
What fragrance or stench is our life emitting?
Are we settled on the truth of the Word, and willing to abide in it?
These days are not for the faint of heart,
but we can make an absolutely optimistic, positive difference for Christ.
If we have yet to receive Christ as our Savior, I pray we will heed the Gospel call and respond to the Lord by faith today.
He is our only hope and our only help.
Whatever the need may be, with God-sized optimism bring it to Jesus today!
Because realistically, in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit,
Our cups are always and forever 100% filled by the blood of Jesus Christ.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
God of truth and enlightenment, Author of my entire, life help me understand your word. Give me insight into the meaning of your commandments and how I should follow them. As I meditate upon your wonderful miracles, may I be fully encouraged and empowered. May my negativity be transformed by thy Grace.
As I study how you have fought our battles from the stories in the Bible, may I be strengthened in my spirit. Help me know how you want me to put your word into practice. Assist me to know your truth more fully through your word and be fragrantly pleasing to you. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.