Now in a large house there are not only vessels and objects of gold and silver, but also vessels and objects of wood and of earthenware, and some are for honorable (noble, good) use and some for dishonorable (ignoble, common). Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable—disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:20-21
God has given us an incredible opportunity to choose the value of our lives. When we get to the department store, we find finished goods for sale. Someone has made the choice to make a bowl out of pottery or of silver, to make a platter out of wood or of bone China. The items themselves cannot choose to be used for honorable or dishonorable purposes; we the buyers are responsible for that. In the spiritual world, we are able to choose to be valuable or worthless, full of honor and useful to God or dirty and broken, not serving any purpose.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy that you and I can cleanse ourselves and be useful to God. To be cleansed, though, we first need to see the dirt. Far too often, we rationalize, minimize, or excuse our sins. We say, “It doesn’t really hurt anybody,” “It wasn’t that bad,” or “I couldn’t help it.” But those responses leave us dirty and unusable. Early in our Christian experience, the Spirit shines His light on public, obvious sins, and as we grow, His light reveals more subtle and hidden sins such as pride, jealousy, and resentment.
At any point that the Spirit reveals sin in our lives, we have the opportunity to choose our response: We may choose to say yes and repent, to say no and continue in sin, or to act as if we didn’t get the message and stay stuck in our sinfulness. When we have courage to say yes to God, He moves in our hearts to cleanse us, heal us, motivate us, and give us opportunities to serve Him. When we say yes, He prepares us “for every good work.” It’s a pretty good deal.
Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.
Useful. Most of us have a collection of useful and useless things in our lives, homes, and storage. Sometimes we hold to useless things because of sentiment(our dear aunt gave it to us when we got married). Sometimes we keep them even though we’ve out grown them because we’re sure that someday they’ll come in handy. So our closets, basements and buildings become cluttered with so many useless things that we can’t find the useful things when we need them.
Usefulness isn’t always determined by value. Sometimes expensive things can become useless, sitting around gathering dust, only touched when it’s time to pick them up, dust them off and put them back into place again. In truth it’s those things that give added value to us, that help us in someway enjoy life or live better that are useful.
Paul in his letter to Timothy tells us that every great house has vessels made of costly materials and vessels made of cheaper materials. Some of them are used for honorable purposes and others for dishonorable purposes. Each vessel can be used for both purposes. It’s not always the gold ones that are honorable and the wooden ones that are dishonorable. It can be the reverse. The master of the house decides how each vessel will be used and what purpose it will serve.
We aren’t quite like the things in our possession that are subject to our whims. We have the choice of whether we will use our lives, talents, abilities, and resources for purposes that honors God and blesses others or whether we will use them for selfish purposes that dishonors God and ignores those around us. What we do with what God has given us will matter on that day when we stand before Christ. Jesus taught us that we can’t be loyal to God and continue to hold tightly to the things of the world. He said we must choose whether we will “serve God or mammon.”
When we consider the words useful and useless we must choose our view. Many things that seem useful in this life will actually be useless in eternity. In truth only those things that carry into eternity will actually be useful. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us that the only enduring thing is love. He says that the gifts of prophecy and tongues and knowledge will pass away and only love will remain. Certainly those gifts are useful now to give us a more fuller revelation of God and His purpose. We would call them valuable. Paul says that when we are finally in the presence of God these valuable gifts will literally be useless for we will no longer need to be told what is to come and we will no longer need to be given more revelation about God for then all will be known and revealed.
In the same way everything we spend time and energy for on this earth might have great value now but when we pass into eternity, they will have no value at all. It is right and proper to work toward having a home, a car, things to enjoy and it is right to have hobbies and goals while we live in this world. For most of us these things are valuable. I certainly enjoy living in my home, spending time with my family, enjoying a few hobbies and getting to travel occasionally and I’m sure you do too. But while we are enjoying these valuable blessings, let’s not forget that they are only temporary.
I believe what the Holy Spirit is saying to us is that we must also give time and effort toward eternal things. Jesus told us to consider the value of our souls in comparison to the things of the world. So then, we ought to make sure we have taken care of our soul by taking the time to give our hearts to Christ and then engaging in activities that feed and develop our souls. The devil loves to get us so busy with life that we forget about living in eternity. Not only should we consider our own souls but our family and friends souls as well. For example, we can give our children everything they desire in this world or let them get involved in every activity they desire but all that will be useless in eternity. The only thing of lasting value is when we introduce them to Christ as their personal Savior and see to it that they take the time and are exposed to activities that grow their faith and relationship with Christ. We may help our neighbor, go to dinner with them, share activities with them, become best friends with them and enjoy life together but if we don’t take the time to give them Christ, our help and friendship in the light of eternity will be useless.
We may attend church services, but unless we connect with God, mere attendance is useless. We may read the Bible frequently but unless we apply its truths, our reading is useless.
As you read again Paul’s letter to Timothy, take a moment to look at your life, your treasures, your abilities and see how you are using them. May our goal be that we allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us, make us a vessel of honor, sanctify us, set us apart, so that we become useful to the Master and we are prepared for every good work. May we lay up treasure in heaven that endures more so than what we leave behind here on earth. May our legacy be that we were Kingdom(of God) builders rather than empire builders in this world.
Dr. John Thompson