From Paul’s second letter to Timothy we read,
- “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (II Timothy 2:21 – NKJV)
Following proper interpretation practice, our text prompts us by the use of the word “therefore” to consider what has been previously written. So we consider what Paul had to say just prior to our text,
- “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor” (II Timothy 2:20 – NKJV)
So the Scripture is instructing us in how to be found by God to be “useful” verses the implied opposite state of being found to be useless.
I would think it safe to say that Paul, in writing to young Timothy, is referring to those professing to be Christians. And everyone who makes such a profession can be referred to as “a vessel.” We are, in the church of Jesus Christ, “vessels” through which the Holy Spirit works to manifest Christ to a lost and dying world . . . at least those who truly belong to Him.
A “vessel” is, as the English word is defined, “a person regarded as a holder or receiver of a particular trait or quality.” The Greek word, in our context, speaks “of the human body as formed of clay . . .” (Zodhiates).
Believers are “a holder . . . of a particular trait or quality,” would you not agree? They are a “human body . . . formed of clay,” called to be “a vessel for honor.” They are not to be “a vessel . . . for dishonor.” The professing believer who fails to “cleanse himself” from “dishonor” finds that he/she is not “useful for the Master.”
This is so important a matter because Paul has previously written,
- “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us” (II Corinthians 4:7 – NKJV)
We, “earthen vessels,” have a great “treasure” in us, and if our profession is truthful and real, then we desire that we would be found to be “a vessel for honor.” For “a vessel for honor” is a “human body” empowered by the Holy Spirit and thus “useful for the Master.” In other words, the disciple of Christ is “a vessel” through which “God” is working to bring “honor” and glory to Himself and to bare witness to the world of His saving gospel message . . . a message of His “power” that is described by Paul as “this treasure.” (cf. Romans 9:22-23)
I’ve often found myself falling short of being that “vessel” that I desire to be, that “vessel” that I believe “God” can work through. My sin, all too often, has rendered me “a person” who my Lord has to work IN instead of working THROUGH. This state causes me to have to be dealing with my disobedience, confessing my transgression, and instead of being on the frontline and being “useful,” sensing I am in a form of retreat, in need of what you might refer to as, repair. Oh, so often I have prayed to be that “vessel . . . God” would not have to work IN but that “vessel” He could be working “THROUGH.” Yes . . . I desire with all my heart to be “a vessel of honor . . . useful for (my) Master!” How about you?
At the very core of our new being should be the desire that we be “useful for (our) Master.” And to be this “useful . . . vessel” we need to be found to be “vessels . . . for honor.” We need to heed what Paul is saying to Timothy and to us in the larger context of his last letter, and for that matter, in the entirety of God’s Word, and diligently strive to be found “useful” and not useless.
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