“If anyone cleanses himself of what is unfit, he will be a vessel for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)
At our home, we have two sets of dishes.
We have the everyday dishes that we use for our regular family meals. And we have the fancy dishes that we only use on special occasions – or for special guests.
The everyday dishes are common. Easy to clean. Require no special care (I am not even sure you could break them if you tried!) They are just functional.
The fancy dishes are intricate. Made of special materials (that must be handled with extra care). They are designed to bring a measure of “class” to our meals. The fancy dishes are set apart – only to be used for special events or occasions. We could use them every day, if we so desired (we could even use them to feed our family pets, if we wanted!) – but that is now why we have them. They are set apart as special – for special purposes.
This was exactly how the Apostle talked about being holy, in his letter to Timothy: “In a large house there are vessels not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.” (2 Timothy 2:20)
We tend to make “holiness” about perfection (perfect actions/reactions). But holiness is really centered in being “set apart” for special purposes. God’s design in making us holy, was to make us vessels that are useful for His special purposes.
This is such an important distinction (and maybe another reason why Christians struggle to see themselves as holy). If we make holiness about perfection – we will always fall short of the standard. But if we see ourselves as “set apart” for special purposes, we realize that we ARE already what God has made us to be. There is no struggle to become something we are not – God has already made it so we can be set apart for His special purposes.
But we do have a part to play. Our verse for today seems to tells us of the need to cleanse ourselves of “what is unfit.” We tend to see this as getting our lives “cleaned up” so God can use us (when we finally get clean). But this is not about cleaning ourselves up (Jesus already did that!). These verses are actually about aligning our minds with what God has done for us through Jesus. It is about truly seeing ourselves as God’s holy people – as set apart for His special purposes.
This strikes me as amazingly profound. From these verses, we may grasp that God uses us in accord with HOW we see ourselves – in light of His completed redemptive work. IF we see ourselves as common, ordinary, unimportant – that is how God will use us. Common vessels are used for common purposes. But IF we see ourselves as special, beloved, prized – then God will use us in special ways. In ways that “fit” with what He has actually done for us to make us His Own special people. Special vessels are used for special purposes – and the Apostle is teaching us that HOW God uses us is largely dependent upon how the view of ourselves “fits” with what God has done for us, through Christ.
In so many ways, our identity in Christ is all important. All God ever asks of us is to SEE ourselves in the light of what He has done for us through Christ. We ARE holy. We ARE set apart for God’s special purposes.
As it turns out… Believing is seeing!
Prayer Focus: God, help me to see myself as “set apart” for Your noble purposes.