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Empty Your Cup So It Can Be Filled

Purpose Knowledge Teachability


Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Ana Lopez | Date Posted: 2016-05-27

Scripture: Philippians 3:10 ; Philippians 3:8

Author: Ana Lopez


A master martial artist asked Bruce Lee to teach him everything he knew about martial arts. Bruce held up two cups, both filled with liquid. "The first cup," said Bruce, "represents all of your knowledge about martial arts. The second cup represents all of my knowledge about martial arts. If you want to fill your cup with my knowledge, you must first empty your cup of your knowledge."


The greatest yearning of the human heart is to know there is a purpose to life. We try to find purpose in things like marriage, career, relationships. But Paul tells us the true purpose of life, the only one that can bring the fulfillment for which our hearts long, is to know Christ. He says, “That I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him” (Philippians 3:10). 

In order for Christ to become the focus of your life, however, you must first empty your cup of the things that contradict that focus. But rest assured, what you gain in this process is well worth all that is lost (Philippians 3:8).

Everybody Can Be Great!

Greatness Servanthood Knowledge

Source: various

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-08-06

Scripture: Mark 9:35 ; Mark 10:43

Author: Martin Luther King, Jr.


"Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

Civil Rights Champion, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mark 9:35; c.f., Mark 10:43; Luke 22:26).

71 Year Old Collects Degrees But Doesn't Want to Use Them

Knowledge Responsibility Discipleship

Source: “Michigan Man Has 29 College Degrees and Counting” by By CHRISTINA NG, June 19, 2012 , ABC News

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-06-21

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:5 ; James 1:22

Author: Illustration Exchange


Michael Nicholson, 71, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has earned 29 degrees and is now pursuing his 30th. He has one bachelor's degree, two associate's degrees, 22 master's degrees, three specialist degrees and one doctoral degree. He is currently working on a master's degree in criminal justice. "I would like to get to 33 or 34. I'm almost there," he told ABC News. "When I complete that, I'll feel like I've completed my basic education. After that, if I'm still alive -- that would take me to 80 or 81 -- I would then be free to pursue any type of degree."

Western Michigan University Professor Tom Carey said of Nicholson, "I've had 18,000 students in class and I've never heard of anybody like this. He's the ultimate life-long learner. I marvel at his tenacity to go to school. … He's intrinsically motivated. It's unique, but it almost sounds bizarre. Some people collect animals and he collects tassels."

"Eventually, it became getting as many as I could," Nicholson said.

Yet with all those tassels, Nicholson has never been employed in any of his fields of expertise. "I just stayed in school and took menial jobs to pay for the education and just made a point of getting more degrees and eventually I retired so that I could go full-time to school.”

"He likes going to school but doesn't want responsibility," said Professor Carey.


Sounds like many Christians. They like attending church and enjoy listening to sermons, but don't really want responsibility. Discipleship—that process by which we learn to be a follower of Christ—is, much like Mr. Nicholson’s educational career, a lifelong process. But knowledge for knowledge sake is empty and pointless. There is a responsibility that comes with biblical truth—a responsibility to use that knowledge to accomplish all that God wills.

While Mr. Nicholson enjoys the positive attention of the news media for the many degrees he's earned, let us not follow his example. Don't be satisfied with being a life long hearer of the Word of God while failing to put it into practice.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

Don’t be a Bible Study or Sunday School junkie. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22), lest your knowledge of the Lord be rendered “ineffective and unproductive.” Rest assured, the Lord will not be impressed by the number of tassels you’ve collected. 

Googling Wisdom

Wisdom Knowledge Discernment

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-04-30

Scripture: Proverbs 4:7 ; Proverbs 9:10

Author: Robert Steck

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Knowledge Success God's Love

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-04-13

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Conscious of Our Ignorance

Humility Knowledge Pride

Contributed By: Barnett Gushin | Date Posted: 2011-10-01

Author: Unkown

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Winning Wisdom

Wisdom Knowledge Ambition

Contributed By: | Date Posted: 2011-02-18

Scripture: Proverbs 4:7

Author: Faith Dillon

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Knowledge Leads To Humility

Humility Teachability Knowledge

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2010-10-23

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6

Author: John Flavel / Illustration Exchange

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The Mine That Keeps Giving

Word of God Bible Wisdom

Contributed By: GENE LAVALLEY | Date Posted: 2019-05-23

Scripture: Proverbs 25:2 ; Psalms 12:6

Author: James Rogers

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Finding Our Fixed Point

Word of God Jesus Christ Truth

Contributed By: Allen Snapp | Date Posted: 2019-05-01

Scripture: Proverbs 14:12 ; Hebrews 12:2

Author: Allen Snapp

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