There is a lighthearted joke in Baptist circles that our denomination is really great at one thing above all others: potluck dinners. We line up several six-foot-long tables end to end, and families bring their favorite meats, casseroles, and desserts to place in the seemingly never-ending lineup of delicious foods. Then everyone grabs a plate and fills it up, testing just how high we can pile on the grub without all of it falling onto the floor.
While I am certainly guilty of overfilling my plate at a potluck dinner, I’ve recently had to ask myself if I’m also guilty of overfilling my plate in life. Not long ago I heard it said that God gives everyone a plate . Some of us are given large platters that can be stacked high with heaps of hearty and delicious mouthwatering foods, while others of us are given little plates with only enough room for a few small (but important) rations. We can’t choose the size of the plate we’re given; we simply take what’s given to us. But too often, people with big plates wish they had small ones, while those with small plates wish they had big ones. That’s when the problem arises. Large platters are wasted, carrying only a few small morsels, and small plates are piled too high, causing the food to splatter all over the floor and make a huge mess.
To put it plainly, each of us has a different capacity when it comes to the load we can carry in life. If we take on more than we should we’ll probably inadequately complete the tasks we’ve committed to do or neglect the people and responsibilities most important to us, but if we take on too little, we’ll waste our lives and the God-given gifts we possess.
And while it’s important that we put the right amount of “food” on our plates, we can’t stop here, because what we put on our plates is just as important.
Whether we carry a big plate or a small plate, we need to choose our “foods” carefully. Filling our plates with junk food instead of hearty meats or healthy vegetables will only leave us with regret, a headache, and an unsatisfied stomach. Junk food can be deceptive for a time and may taste good while we eat it, but it brings no lasting nourishment and doesn’t “stick to your bones,” as my momma would say.
So, here’s the question: Are you filling your God-given plate with things that really matter and will make an eternal difference? We must evaluate ourselves according to God’s Word, prioritizing the Lord above all else in every season of life. As I examine my own life, I’ve observed that when I put Christ first, my priorities naturally fall into place and my plate is proportioned as it should be. But too often my idolatrous heart is like a spatula, scooting Christ to the very edge of my plate in order to load it up with other foods — foods that aren’t necessarily bad for me but that become unhealthy when I give them supremacy in my life. Thankfully, when this happens, the Lord is patient, His Word is convicting, and His kindness leads me to repentance, causing me to clean off my plate and load it up again with foods that are good for me and bring glory to God.
So as we each consider the plate God has given us in life, let us keep our eyes on Christ, the “founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Let’s seek to prioritize Christ above all else as He grows us in His grace, and ultimately, let’s look forward to that great and glorious day when we’ll experience the most wonderful “potluck dinner” of all, the marriage supper of the Lamb, where Christ’s redeemed will dine with Him in His kingdom forever and ever.
 Thorn, Joe, and Jimmy Fowler. “Ministry Schedules and When to Say No.” Podcast. Doctrine and Devotion. 1 Jan. 2018. Web. 4 May 2018.