Imagine yourself in some kind of public setting, maybe a meeting of some sort. You’re with at least a dozen people, some of whom you know quite well, some not so well and still others not at all. After awhile, somebody shows up with a tray filled with cups of fresh coffee.
As the tray is passed around, you notice that the coffee is being served in a variety of cups. Some appear to be made of fine china, others are a mixture of just ordinary cups. Some bear obvious signs of wear, appearing to have been used over a long period of time. Some are plain Styrofoam cups.
Each person in the group takes a cup of coffee. Interestingly, but probably not surprising, the better looking cups go first. The Styrofoam cups are the last ones taken. But, Why? Why were the more attractive cups of coffee chosen first? Why were the Styrofoam cups chosen last? Why did some people in the group feel slighted because the better cups were taken before the tray got around to them? It was the same coffee in all the cups, made at the same time by the same person, poured out of the same pot! The coffee is the important thing. The cup is just a receptacle. But we have a perception that, somehow, it’s better to have our coffee in a nicer cup.
Many people, if not most, view life in a similar way. They focus on outward appearances. They see some people working at higher paying jobs, wearing fancier clothes, driving more expensive cars, living in bigger homes in better neighborhoods and envy them for it. They perceive the lives of those people as being better than their own because of the outward appearances. They calculate that if they could have those kinds of things themselves, their own lives would be better. Just as with the coffee cups, many people feel slighted, even resentful, for not getting many of the things they see other people possessing.
But once again, jobs, clothes, cars and houses are only outward things . What really matters is the life with which each person is blessed, what’s inside. Things are not what life is all about ( Lk. 12:15 ). How a person chooses to live, no matter how much or how little he possesses materially, will determine the quality of his life. Basing the quality of one’s life primarily on the things that he possesses will result in a largely empty life. We’re all aware of countless people of great wealth, and the outward appearance of great success, who lived terribly broken lives. And, we’ve all met people of meager financial means whose lives have been happy and full and rich.
We need to focus on living life in the most meaningful way possible, with our primary focus being spiritual, serving our Heavenly Father. When we realize that this world is just a staging ground for eternal life, and live accordingly, we’ll tend to find greater contentment, peace and fulfillment in our lives here. And we’ll realize that the outward appearances are relatively inconsequential. Remember, it’s not the cup, it’s the coffee that really matters…
Gary L. Hutchens