Let me begin by giving you this passage in II Timothy 2:20-21 from the New Living Translation:
“20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.”
Basins, utensils, pots, pans, and dishes were common items used in Israel’s tabernacle and temple worship. They were made of metal, clay, or wood. Our bodies are also vessels of God who made them. The biblical story of the potter and clay reminds us that people are vessels or dishes created by God, some fitted for eternal life, and others fitted for everlasting destruction.
“21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? 22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory” (Romans 9:21-23 NLT).
In God’s House, there are only two kinds of vessels, but there are some interesting varieties that I would like to mention.
There are ornamental dishes that we hang on our walls with a picture of a church building or a person on them. We never use them; they are only something to look at. There are a lot of people in churches today, folks on display instead of on the job for the Lord! God’s House is not a museum for displaying our goodness; it is a hospital for the spiritually sick! Our gifts, our prayers, our worship, and our talents are not for display purposes. They are for God’s glory. Don’t content yourself to be a showpiece when you can be a servant.
Many of us have fine china that we only use for special occasions because it is so fragile. I have observed some Christians who have to be handled with kid gloves.They wear their feelings on their shoulders and are easily offended. The least problem causes them to become all unglued.
I am reminded of the story of Mary and Martha entertaining Jesus (Luke 10:38-42 NKJV). Both women loved the Lord, but Martha lost herself in the frenzy of kitchen work while Mary worshiped Jesus. Many of us are like Martha, too busy working and not enough time worshiping. Are you a fragile dish? A pastor with many years of experience and wisdom once told me that if he could live his life over again, he would spend more time being than doing!
Then there are everyday dishes we use that receive the hard knocks – cracked, chipped, handles broken off of cups, etc. Thank God for those faithful saints who stick by the stuff even when criticized or ridiculed. You can always count on them. God called the apostle Paul “achosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15 NKJV). Paul himself went on to describe the power behind his ministry with these words:
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (II Cor. 4:7 NLT).
Remember those clay jars with candles Gideon’s army used to rout the enemy (Judges 7:16-25 NKJV)? God can use us no matter how crude and ordinary we may feel.
THE DIVINE DISHWASHER
Dishes don’t always stay clean. Sometimes they get the wrong things put in them. Jehoakim brought the vessels of Jehovah into the treasure house of his heathen god (Daniel 1:2-3 NKJV). Many today are defiling their bodies, filling them with smoke, alcohol, drugs, and filthy language. Even Christians get spiritually soiled. But praise God for the cleansing fountain of the blood of Jesus Christ (I John 1:8-10 NKJV)! When we are cleansed, we are holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work (II Timothy 2:21 NKJV). What sort of vessel are you? May God help us to be everyday dishes – vessels of honor through whom His Spirit can operate.
Mary E. Maxwell wrote this hymn based on II Timothy 2:20-21 called “Channels Only”:
Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me, a clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no pow’r but as Thou givest graciously with each command.
Channels only, blessed Master, but with all Thy wondrous pow’r
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us every day and every hour.