But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 2 Timothy 2:20-23
As Christians, our greatest desire on earth must be a desire to be used by God in the mightiest of ways. Most people want to be useful. Usefulness breeds confidence, self-worth and a sense of belonging, therefore most people want to be useful. God has an entirely different level of usefulness that He wants from His children. A usefulness that displays His power and His might. A usefulness that displays God’s compassion, mercy, grace, provision, protection, forgiveness, and even His justice. A usefulness that transcends this world and points to heaven. God wants to display His power through His people.
Some would say that we are the pipe line through which God delivers His power. This is true. We are the body of Christ. Every Christian has a spiritual gift or gifts through which God delivers His power. In 2 Timothy 2:20-23 God uses different instruments or vessels to describe how He delivers His power to this world. How God chooses to use us is up to us. Here’s how.
The Place of Service: Paul starts by telling Timothy that there is this great house. This great house is the family of God. It is great because it belongs to God. God designed it, built it, and dwells in it. God dwells in us and therefore uses us to carry out His plan. The great house is priceless. No man can put a value on it for it was paid for through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. This great house is the center of God’s will and plan for all mankind where the most important issues are addressed. Second Corinthians 5:1 states,” For we know that if our earthly house of God, this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Our earthly homes are of importance but our God’s great house is of most importance. God carries out His plan for this age through His great house—the church.
The People of Service: The church contains all different types of people with different gifts and abilities. Paul compares them to vessels or instruments of usefulness in a great house. Among these vessels some are made of gold and silver, or instruments of honor. Some instruments however are made of wood and earth, or instruments of dishonor. God intends to use every Christian for His service, even those who refuse to keep themselves pure. The question is how will He use them? A clean bucket is a vessel that can be used to carry water to a dying man, if dirty it can used as a trash can. Either way it can be used. God will use the people of this great house despite our sin and disobedience. As the people lf service, God gives us the responsibility as to how we will make ourselves available to Him for His use.
The Preparation for Service: We get to decide how we will be used. Will we be used for honorable or dishonorable service? Will we be pure of dirty? Paul states in v. 21, If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Paul is referencing the sins listed in verses 16-18 when he speaks of purging ourselves. The Bible speaks of several types of purging or cleansing. First, there is the cleansing that comes at salvation as represented in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Second, there is the cleansing that comes as a result of our confession of sin in our lives after salvation as in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Third, there is the cleansing that comes from the Word of God displayed in Ephesians 5:26, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” The three types of cleansing represented above come from God. He does the cleaning. However, in our passage in 2 Timothy verse 21, this is a cleansing for which man is responsible “... If a man therefore purge himself.”
This cleansing is not for salvation but rather for preparation to be used by God. This cleansing is not divorced from God, but it is still a work that requires not only the work of man but the will of man. We are preparing ourselves to be used of God in a glorious way. Many Christians may wonder why they remain stagnant while others seem to have glorious and mighty results in their lives. The difference rests in preparation. If we are not cleansing and purging our lives of impurities, then we are not prepared to be used by God in magnificent ways. Our conduct in everyday life largely determines how God will work in and through us.
How can God use us? Will I be used for honor or dishonor? Am I keeping myself pure before God and man so that God can use me as silver or gold? God will use us—how He will us use is up to us.