Another Look at the Glass

Personal Outlook

In describing how one approaches the outlook of one’s life, the contrast between optimism and pessimism is the most powerful. These two philosophies embody two distinct ends of perspective toward how to approach problems, either as obstacles or challenges. While there is a degree of over-simplification in this process, as no person tends to be specifically one or the other, optimism vs. pessimism can tell a lot about an individual’s attitude toward life.

The Glass Illustration

A common illustration used to describe both optimism and pessimism is the half-filled glass. The content of the glass is not as important as the quantity, and more specifically as to whether this is a positive or negative thing. The optimist, as the illustration follows, will claim the glass to be “half full,” focusing upon the positive reality of at least having the contents. The pessimist, as the illustration follows, will claim the glass to be “half empty,” focusing upon the negative reality that there is still room for much more.

In terms of Christianity, the question over one’s attitude toward life is a very important one. It is then curious to see how the Christian approaches the “glass question.” In this it is important to remember that blind optimism without justification is neither fruitful, nor any wiser than blind pessimism. For the Christian to declare the glass “half full” merely because it is in some way “expected” misses the point entirely. Instead, the Christian might approach the glass somewhat differently by:

Declaring the glass as “adequate”

In terms of the glass representing provision for life, the question as to its amount is not important. Whether one should take positive note that contents exist is nonsensical – God promises to provide for His creation (Mat. 5:45; 6:26). Also whether one should complain that room still exists for more is nonsensical – temporal blessings only have temporal importance.

Remembering one’s spiritual glass is always full

In terms of the spiritual, there is only one ever state which our “cup” is found: it “overflows” (Psa. 23:5, NASU). It should be impossible for the Christian to approach this with pessimism, for there is no more “room” in the glass. In this case optimism is not a mere outlook, but proven reality. It becomes more than “at least having some,” turning into “having more than can possibly be asked for.” What if we approached all things with such an attitude?

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