November 30, 2016

In the Potter’s hands

In our Monday Bible study, exalting a biblical person was a discouragement in a way. If I have to be well-educated, or raised by godly parents, or special in some way before God can use me, then He never will. On the other hand, I cannot say I am useless to God because God can do anything with even the most useless.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:27–29)

Paul understood this because he was a humble man who knew his own sinfulness. He was well-educated, respected as a Pharisee, and had many qualifications. If anyone could boast he could, yet he also said:

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh — though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith . . .  (Philippians 3:3–9)

Paul was not guilty of a false humility that tries to look humble before others. He knew that he was a sinner, but he also knew that in Christ he could do all things, not because of his credentials or background but because of the grace of God.

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:9–10)

Chambers says, “The way we continually talk about our own inability is an insult to the Creator. The deploring of our own incompetence is a slander against God for having overlooked us.” By this he refers to that false humility that is sometimes an excuse to not do great things for God, or a self-pitying reason why God has never asked us to do anything?

The Lord often asks me to do things that in my own self would be totally impossible, but He provides the grace to do it. Many times I’d prefer He ask me to do that which I feel capable of doing, yet that is not how He works. I’m never to boast that I am able, just as I’m never to boast that I am unable. Either of these is foolish because it is putting the attention on me when I should be giving God glory. No matter what I am, it is He who works in me.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:20–21)

Chambers says, “Never bother your head as to whether what you say sounds humble before men or not, but always be humble before God, and let Him be all in all.”

He adds, “One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purpose, and yours may be that life.” With that, the image of a potter shaping clay comes to mind. The clay never tells the potter what to do or how to do it. It never insists what kind of shape it should be or cannot be. It just lets the potter do with it what he wants.


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