A Useful Vessel Part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post. It was getting pretty long so I decided to cut it in half. And there was a lot to take in yesterday too. Here’s the passage I’m going through again:

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. 

2 Timothy 2:20-26 (NASB)

We discussed briefly on being made useful for God. It takes a pure heart and fleeing from youthful lusts to pursue the things of God. I left you with the description of what a bond-servant (also bond-slave) is according to the Bible, and how the picture Paul created for becoming a useful vessel to God begins with that kind of mindset.

We are all slaves to something. Unfortunately, we are slaves to things we think we need to have. We can tell what we serve by looking at our time. The more time we spend with something, the more we wrap our lives around it. We serve it. We buy things to enhance it and our experience with it.

Television is a great example. Let’s move from the classic tube set to the flat-screen, hi-def, LED, 3D TV and think I’ve got it all. But you know what would make it better? A blu ray player and satellite dish. But I can’t just get the regular satellite, I need the hi-def package that includes all the channels, most of which I’ll never watch. That way I can make the most out of the HD TV I just got. And you know what will make it even better? Surround sound! That way my 240HRZ 3D HD LED TV will make me feel like I’m actually there in the movie! Hang on a sec! Is that a bump in my TV chair??? Replace with a sectional, complete with cup holders and a small fold out table in the middle. That will really help me so I won’t have to sit next to the sweaty guys I’m going to invite over to watch sports with me. Speaking of guys coming over, this whole experience would be so much better if I had a wet bar in the basement so I won’t have to get up and walk all the way upstairs to the kitchen to get a…

See what I’m saying? It’s easy to do the same thing with clothes, gardens, landscaping, houses, cars, and appearances. We become servants to them, bound to most of it even in debt. We don’t own any of those things until they’re all paid completely off. But we got a good deal on financing. That decision, however, has made us slaves to it. We’ve built a “bigger barn” to house all our junk. Then we spend time with it, caring for it, loving it, and we worship it by spending absorbent amounts of time with it. It consumes our thoughts, attitudes, hearts, and wallet.

Aren’t even those things included in the “youthful lusts” we talked about yesterday? Ultimately find that youthful lusts keep us from becoming a bond-servant to God because we’ve tied ourselves to all these other things we thought were something we wanted. And now we’re back to the pure heart thing. God desires us more than we realize. Maybe these things that we’re running after to bring us happiness or some sort of self-fulfillment, the attitude we have toward the pursuit of these things needs to be the same toward God. But the only way to get there is to flee this stuff and pursue His stuff. So what is it that consumes us? What consumes me and what consumes you?

This is turning out to be a lot deeper than I realized. The picture of a bond-servant to God runs deep, and in order grasp the rest of the passage, we have to think with that type of mindset. Our relationship with God begins with knowing and understanding that He knows what’s best for us, and I’m powerless to take care of things on my own. Thus a complete trust and reliance upon Him as our Master.

With a mind focused on the Lord, we are not to be quarrelsome, but kind to all. All means everyone. You know who popped into your head. That guy will work for the example himself.

Another thing is that God expects us to teach and train others in the Way. A good bond-servant knows what his master requires of him and helps and teaches those who don’t know what’s required.

We’re to be patient when we’re wronged. How often are we wronged in traffic? How often does someone at work push our buttons to set off the fuse of wrath within us? Even God teaches us to slow down and count to 10 before we respond when we’re wronged. If we truly desire to be the bond-servant used to the fullest potential, we must always remember that our anger won’t bring about the righteous life God desires. Think of it from God’s perspective instead of our own. I’ll get to that in a little bit.

We’re to correct those in opposition with gentleness. Easier said than done, of course. In the heat of the moment it’s always easy to be harsher than we’d like to be because we’d rather have the result we’ve been looking for. We want obedience from our kids. Gentle correction is out of the picture when they don’t do what they’re told immediately. It’s frustrating. But if we tell them to wait on us because we’re preoccupied, should they expect anything different from us? Aren’t we supposed to treat others the way we want to be treated? Maybe the gentle correction comes from a desire to understand and then relay our desire afterward. What ends up happening in gentle correction is the development and nurturing of a relationship. God is this way with us. The only difference is that He already understands where we’re coming from. We just need to learn to trust Him.

We do all those things to lead to this: God may grant them repentance and their eyes may be opened to the knowledge of the truth! They could get out of the trap they’re in! The selfish pride that brought the fall of Satan is what’s holding them back from seeing the truth! Their rescue begins with a pure heart demonstrated by us!!! The truth is, they’re lost. Even if God has set them free, if their heart isn’t pure and seeking God, they’re still in need of more of Him and they are lost too.

From a personal standpoint, I wonder if when I fail at a pure heart, that I’m doing the will of the devil. This brings a shiver to my spine and tears to my eyes. I know that if I’m not pursuing the things of God, I’m pursuing something else. A youthful lust. This shows me how much I have to grow yet and how much more God needs to take from me to make me His bond-servant. But those of us who are mature must be doing this to help those who aren’t, to rescue them, to untangle them from the snare of the devil.

God, grant me repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth! Help me come to my senses in my life about what’s important to You.

What are your thoughts?