My family and I enjoy taking weekend getaways to the Great Smoky Mountains. More specifically to the towns of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This entire area is filled with all sorts of attractions ranging from mini golf to dinner theaters and everything in between. I think it has become a home away from home for us.
There is also a large arts and crafts community in the area. Every time we would visit this area, I always admired the pottery work of one certain artist. The pieces can be a bit pricey depending on what you choose so I purchased a beautiful mug. (Maybe one day I will get the pitcher I really wanted.)
I am still happy with my purchase, this is my mug:
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also some of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the later, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21
So often we want to look like my mug. God is looking for a vessel that is fit for use. We think our lives need to look a certain way before we can come to God or before He can ever use us. What we really need to do is say “here I am God cleanse me and make me fit for your use.”
The scripture didn’t state which vessels were actually the vessels of honor. Was it the gold, the silver, the wood, or the clay? The world would choose the gold and silver. God chooses the wood and clay and turns them into the gold or silver vessel.
Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. Man thinks he must start out as the gold or silver vessel, but God chooses the simple and turns them into something beautiful. There are some very beautiful vessels in this world, but are they useful?
My mug has never been used. I am sure the artist intended for it to be useful, however it is not used as anything but a decoration. I don’t want to run the risk of breaking it or ruining it. So it sits on a shelf and is only looked at. It is pretty but it isn’t useful.
During the same trip my son also picked out a glass. Here is what he chose:
Yes it is a very plain glass, but for our family it is very useful. My son’s glass is used over and over again. Mine is only dusted from time to time. His plain-looking glass is filled up, emptied, tossed in the sink, thrown in the dishwasher, and then placed back in the cupboard to be used again.
We have to stop looking at the outer appearance of the vessel and start looking at what is inside the vessel. If we keep looking at the vessel we are looking at man and his ability. Look instead at what is being held inside the vessel. When you look inside the vessel you are looking at God and what He can do.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as a man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
I have no problem with people making their outer appearance look beautiful. Just as long as they are concerned about their hearts being beautiful too. Lord knows I put on makeup, fix my hair, pick out a nice outfit, etc. to make myself look and feel better. I also spend time with the Lord to fix the issues going on inside my heart so that it is beautiful too.
The artist who made my mug started with a lump of clay and turned it into something beautiful. God does the same thing with us if we will let Him. You see no matter what the vessel looks like, what really matters is what is inside the vessel. We are the vessels. Are you going to allow God to clean you and then fill you up with His presence? In these pictures both cups are empty. They both have the potential to be filled up and used.
“Before we can be filled with the Spirit, the desire to be filled must be all-consuming. It must be for the time the biggest thing in life, so acute, so intrusive as to crowd out everything else. The degree of fullness in any life accords perfectly with the intensity of true desire. We can have as much of God as we actually want.” – A.W. Tozer
Is your vessel empty or only half full? How much of God do you want? Do you want Him more than anything? Enough to lay down your own desires, your pride, unforgiveness, bitterness, fear, doubt, and whatever else you might be filled with. Are you thirsty? Tell Him. Let Him cleanse you, fill you, and use you as He sees fit.