What’s Down In The Well Comes Up In The Bucket!

I remember my grandmother saying, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket! If the well has muddy water, then that is what you get, if it is clean spring water, then that is what comes up in the bucket.”

What’s down in your inner self is what comes out when you are in conflict. When your values or beliefs are challenged or affirmed, you will discover what is “down in the bucket.” Your first response shows the condition of your heart, mind, and attitude at the time.

There is much social pressure that requires you to look happy, to act as if you were happy, to be polite, and to do the acceptable thing. The Christian is concerned, not only with his tone of voice, but with what is in the inner self as well; not only with how he acts, but with how he feels.

Jesus said,

“What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Mark 7:20-23

To illustrate, a certain woman is friendly, easy to talk to, likable. Consequently, she is often invited to neighbor’s homes for coffee. Friends often ask her to drive them somewhere. The church is often asking her to do special tasks. Her husband frequently brings guests home. But behind her friendly manner is her dislike of people and resentment because she feels that she is being imposed upon. Her, “inner bucket” or inner self is causing her a lack of peace.  The people who call upon her surely benefit from her services and her friendliness, but she is the real loser. The conflict between her acting and feeling, brought on by the demands made on her time, causes her endless misery.

A reporter tells of a reaction common to many. While covering a dog show, he approached an official for a press pass, explaining that he wanted to write an article about the show. The official delivered a brief, snarling lecture on the subject of people who expect to get into dog shows free, unless they are showing dogs. Then he asked, “Are you showing dogs?” “No, I am not!” replied the reporter. The official abruptly turned his back, leaving an astonished and overwhelmed reporter. Immediately the newsman began to think of things he should have said. Sharp-edged retorts leaped into his mind. He fancied a much more successful comeback that included side-stepping an irate, lunging official and flooring him with a neat right to the jaw. He had thought himself into a sweat before something else took his attention.

The Bible graphically describes the reporter’s inner self response:

The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.

Psalm 55:21

Physicians tell us that hostility, jealousy, anger, rage, resentment, and envy are some of the reactions that can cause such problems as disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, disorders of the heart, disorders of the skin, and headaches. The miraculous development of medicines have proven to be very effective in calming such reactions. The psychologist calls these reactions emotions.

According to psychiatrists and psychologists, these same reactions can also result when the patient has been mistreated by people or subjected to adverse circumstances. They declare these to be normal reactions that can be managed by human intelligence, education, and proper human interaction. Poorly managed reactions require the aid available through psychiatry and/or psychology. Skilled therapists can assist you.

If necessary, a carefully administered drug program can help. It can take as much as two years or more for a therapist to help you understand how to manage your reactions caused by past and present experiences. It is comforting to know that the terrible discomfort can be relieved with medication and therapy. Again, such reactions are called emotions.

A Dilemma

What is a Christian to do with this information? The Bible declares the same emotions–hostility, jealousy, anger, rage, resentment, and envy–to be acts of the sinful nature. Only God can help if it is sin.

The Bible declares that God will purify us of these so-called human emotions. They are sins. Only God can help us. God is the source of supernatural help in facing the dilemma. God says,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

While the psychologist calls these emotions, the Scripture calls them the “fruit of the Spirit.” Of course we use the term emotion to help others know the subject of our conversation. It is okay to use the term, just don’t get mixed up on whether you are dealing with the flesh or the Spirit!

Such talk is nonsense to the humanist, who by faith declares there is no God. To the humanist, the concept of sin is to pile a load of unnecessary guilt on top of an already troubled person.

Which way will you turn for help? If it is sin you are dealing with, only God can cleanse you. If it is relief you seek, then you can turn to the world around you for help, but a cure is not available, only relief.


  1. I read and like your material. I too often heard that expression as a child. I wrote a book by the same name which can seen at my website and it is posted at Amazon.com and B&N.com.

    I speak thoughout the region on the understanding that what is inside our hearts and minds is what comes out in our behavior, attitude, and thoughts.

    My second book: “I am that…that is in the Well” will be coming out soon.

    Call or email for question for comments. Keep up the good works in getting out the Good Word!

    • Duane, I am a former co-worker of your wife’s. I receevid your Christmas card and letter and just wanted to send a quick note. It sounds like you have had some re-directing in your life this year. Great job with the writing, keep it up. I don’t think you necessarily have to be in front of a classroom, but perhaps you could start speaking to groups with some of your topcs and life lessons to enlighten and encourage audiences that have had changes occur in their lives or may need a differnet perspective of situations. You definitely have talent and destined for greatness. If I can help, feel free to contact me.

  2. Alan Downey says:

    I’m a walking testimony of how the Fruits of Spirit can change the water in the bucket from muddy to clear spring water. Before I rededicated my life to making Jesus as Lord in 2004 I spoke fluent profanity. Before then I hung out with ungodly people & cussing was a way of life. But now I cannot stand to hear someone cuss especially if they take the Lord’s name in vein. I must give Dr. Skinner partial credit because he gave the “bucket” example in a counseling course several years ago & I thought to myself “man I don’t want no muddy water coming out of my heart”. Change comes first by reversing your attitude & then by faith putting it into action. Kerry also taught me that what you do or say reveals what you believe and it will come up in the “bucket”. James 3:8 is real to me now (“the tongue can no man tame”), meaning it was not my strength that bridled the tongue but that of Christ that lives in me.

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