A friend who worked for a Christian organization was known for his perfectionistic work habits. One day as he was finishing some work on a backhoe, a large piece of excavating equipment, he began preparing to paint its large metal bucket. This was an unnecessary part of the job, as the fresh paint would scrape off as soon as the backhoe began digging into rocky soil. As my friend raised his spray gun for the first coat, his boss called to him, “Don’t paint the bucket!”

My friend put down his spray gun, but he couldn’t let the idea go that he hadn’t finished the job. All through the night and into the next day, he wondered why he felt it was so important to paint the bucket. Then it came to him. Later, he went to his boss and said, “When you said ‘Don’t paint the bucket,’ what you were really saying is that I shouldn’t find my value in my perfectionism. My value doesn’t lie in my work, but in Jesus.” His boss slapped his desk and exclaimed, “Yes, you got it!”

The only thing that can ever satisfy in life is Jesus. He’s the fullness of God; and if you’re a believer, you’ve been made “complete” in Him (Colossians 2:9-10). Who you are is who you are in Jesus (Colossians 2:2). Full stop. Period. We can’t add one bit of worth to what we already are in Christ. And it’s a sin to try.

How many of us need to stop “painting our buckets”? We pin our hopes for security and significance in accomplishments that can’t provide either. We think we’ll be satisfied if a certain person will go out with us, if our toddler will behave, or if we get that new assignment. The reality? We already are a “new person” with a “new life” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

C’mon, don’t paint that bucket!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Luke 17:20-37