The Brimming Thimble

The Martin Family

I’ve been reading Story of a Soul ~ the Autobiography of Saint Thérése of Lisieux and I came across an excellent explanation of something I have often wondered about.

It was Pauline*, too, who received all my intimate confidences and cleared up all my doubts.  Once I was surprised that God didn’t give equal Glory to all the Elect in heaven, and I was afraid all would not be perfectly happy.  Then Pauline told me to fetch Papa’s large tumbler and set it alongside my thimble and filler both to the brim with water.  She asked me which one was fuller.  I told her each was as full as the other and that it was impossible to put in more water than they could contain.  My dear Mother helped me understand that in heaven God will grant His Elect as much glory as they can take, the last having nothing to envy in the first.

I remember hearing or reading about God not giving equal Glory to all those in heaven, but wherever I read it, it was just mentioned in passing.  It has been something I have often wondered about though as it surprised me.  When I think about it, I wonder about it much in the same way as Thérése did.  Wouldn’t those  given less Glory be somehow unhappy or jealous of those given more?  What of those above? What more would they receive?  I would usually not allow myself to think on this for very long, because I knew these thoughts were simply wrong, but I still couldn’t stop thinking them from time to time.  This little demonstration, given to Thérese by her big sister and Mother, explains so much.  I sit here and marvel at the folly of these human thoughts of mine that should have nothing to do with heaven, but come unbidden just the same.



*Thérése’s older sister, her second Mother two times over as she “adopted” Thérése when their mother died and she was also Mother Agnes of Jesus at the Carmelite Monastery.

7 thoughts on “The Brimming Thimble

  1. I was fortunate to get almost this same exact explanation from my mother when I was a teen. She added that our time on earth is to be used to make our “cup” as big as possible.


  2. 1 Corinthians 3: 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, [d]precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test [e]the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

    As I understand it, our rewards will be different based on the works we do for Jesus – and only the fire will reveal what was really done for Jesus vs. what was done for our own vanity or some other reason.

    Never heard the thimble vs. cup analogy, but it’s good.

    Really, it would shame me if I were given the glory (or rewards) given to someone who lived and died as a martyr to the faith. That would be unjust. Living as I do, in a country where I am free to worship, with plenty of food on my table and a roof over my head, it will be my honor to see others take a higher place in Heaven than I get. My *honor*, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  3. Really, it would shame me if I were given the glory (or rewards) given to someone who lived and died as a martyr to the faith. That would be unjust.

    YES! Sadly, my thoughts tend to not go in this direction nearly enough. I’m working on that.


  4. If you want to be inspired to humility in comparison with real life people, may I suggest a bop over to voice of the martyrs? We have plenty of folks in our Family who are dying for Jesus … today.


  5. Hearthie,

    I’m familiar with some of the martyrs of today, like those 21 men who were recently beheaded. They’re courage and steadfastness was astounding. I will check out Voice of the Martyrs. Thank you for the recommendation.


  6. There is a tendency in the modern church to equalism, and it is as well-meaning and destructive as it is everywhere else. But Jesus is not egalitarian, equalist, or any other such pastel fiction, and the Father apparently even less so.

    I rather like pivot’s mother’s notion of using our time here to make our “cup” as big as possible. I will be happy as Heaven’s janitor, but will only be so if I just skate by, ignoring the gifts given me and the opportunities placed in my path. If He loves and glories more those who love and exalt Him more, what egotistic fool could gainsay it?


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