A Bible study through 2 Timothy
How many different types of bowls and containers are in your house? You probably can’t count them all off the top of your head. I know I can’t! We have bowls and containers that serve a variety of purposes. Mixing bowls are used for baking while stove top pans hold simmering soup on chilly fall evenings. Meanwhile, some Tupperware containers hold leftovers while others are used to take out compost scraps. We have beautiful serving bowls that are used to elegantly present food, while at the same time we possess drab, boring containers that are used as garbage cans or laundry baskets. These different types of containers or vessels have different purposes depending on what they’re made of and how clean they are.
Paul used this picture of different types of household containers to reiterate the importance of walking in God’s approval. We’ve already studied his teaching on being approved workmen, but now let’s take a look at this somewhat different angle and see what God wants to teach us about being clean vessels ready for God’s service.
“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
This passage is pretty straight forward without needing elaborate explanation. However, while the message is clear, we can miss the implications if we don’t take time to ponder and meditate on the truths shared here. Therefore, take a minute or two and really think about what Paul is sharing here and how it applies to your life.
As I think on this passage, what strikes me is the fact that we get to determine our destiny and whether or not our vessels are used for honorable or dishonorable service. Remember the comparison of the elegant serving bowl versus the trash bin? That’s the difference between an honorable and dishonorable vessel. Both serve a purpose, but one is more valued and prized over the other.
As Christians, we are all in God’s house. He has saved and redeemed us and welcomed us into the family of God. However, what we do in God’s house is up to us and this is the destiny we get to choose according to Paul. Notice he says that “if anyone cleanses himself” which denotes that fact that it is a choice we must make.
God does not require or force us to become clean vessels. God wants to lift us up and elevate our vessel for honorable use. However, we have a choice. We cannot expect God to use us for His work if we are still engaging in sinful behavior. God will not pour clean, pure, life-giving water into a tainted jar. Nor will God put a radiant light in our vessel if we are not ready to reflect and shine it out to others. We must first get clean before we can be used in the King’s service.
And notice how Paul describes the clean vessel for honorable use. He says that it is “set apart as holy.” What a beautiful description! From the beginning of God’s covenant relationship with the people of Israel, He held one overarching command and requirement for the people: be holy as He is holy. But that standard was impossible within our own strength, which is why Jesus came. Therefore, we can now be set free from sin and made clean to become set apart as holy vessels ready for honorable service in God’s house.
So the question is: are you going to cleanse yourself and become a vessel of honor? Will you do the hard work of purging sin from your life and keeping yourself set apart from what might defile your temple? Do you want to become a clean vessel?
As mentioned previously, through faith in Christ we are all in God’s house. However, our role and place in His great house is determined on our willingness to surrender to the Father’s will. Therefore, let us choose to do the hard work of cleansing ourselves from the remnants and influences of sin so that we might become a vessel of honor, set apart as holy in our Creator’s house.