A schoolteacher pours big rocks into a jar and then asks her students if it’s full. They say yes. Next she picks up a container of pebbles and pours them into the jar. Again, the teacher wants to know if the jar is full. The class is absolutely certain this time. The jar is completely full. But now the teacher takes a bag of sand and pours in its contents. The grains sift down into the crevices among the rocks and pebbles.
An interesting thing about this demonstration is that it fails to work unless the big rocks go in first. And isn’t it true that my life is a failure unless I put first things first? In the parable of the sower, Jesus says that some “seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them” (Matt. 13:7). And what does this mean? “As for what was sown among thorns,” the Lord explains, “this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (v. 22).
This distracted Christian is like a jar of pebbles and sand. He has no room in his full life for the large rocks, for the big things that really matter – dedication to prayer, daily Bible study time, committed church attendance, participation in fellowship, personal evangelism, and teaching his children about God. He is too preoccupied with daily problems and too busy chasing after pleasures and possessions to have any room left for a genuine relationship with Jesus and his church.
When we do put the big rocks first, the pebbles and sand manage to find their way into the jar too. Jesus urges us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” If we obey him, “all these things” are ours as well (Matt. 6:33). In other words, everyone who honors God receives both the good things that last and the provision of everyday needs. Only a life devoted to Christ is truly full.