Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21, ESV)
It’s a passage that doesn’t get a lot of attention from the pulpit; perhaps because it’s one in which Paul uses a lot of words which can get confusing. Or perhaps it’s because it speaks of “vessels” made of gold, silver, wood, or clay. That’s language we’re just not familiar with. However, the main message of these two verses is too important to skip. So, straight to the main point I hope to take us!
In Paul’s day, clay pots were often used for the “dishonorable” purpose of excrement removal – i.e., they were chamber pots. Those same pots, therefore, would NOT be used for more honorable purposes – like serving the evening stew! You just wouldn’t use the bed pan as the bread pan, or the pee pot as the tea pot! We know better than to do that, and so does God.
What makes a vessel (person or pan) ready for honorable, godly use is not what it’s made of, but how clean it is! So, God says cleanse yourself from all that’s dishonorable. (BTW, the rest of the chapter includes several dishonorable things for us to avoid). Why do it? Because God wants to use us for good things! Please understand, our works are not a determinant in our salvation, but they are a determinant in our service. How we live either prepares us, or disqualifies us, for His use.
Do we really want to be fully prepared for every good work? If so, we need to be serious about our spiritual cleaning! –Dave
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