“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”
(2 Timothy 2:20-21)
Over the last month I have had a real sense that God has challenged me to look at myself more in how I approach Him and the work He has for me to do. It’s very easy to fall into a routine of being a Christian or to get ‘comfortable’. Yet as Christians we must never forget that God has “called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9). The salvation God has given us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the most precious gift we can receive. How tragic it is when we put it into a corner of our lives instead of ensuring it is central!
Disguising our real motives through ‘good works’
It’s very easy to serve God or ‘do’ things for Him without doing what’s most important – spending time with Him in reading the Bible and prayer, allowing His Spirit to fan the flame within. We need to invest the best part of our energy into what God values most – time with Him. Christian life can quickly become a process of “doing” things out of perceived noble intentions. Yet if we peel away the layers of those so-called noble intentions, it can show a heart that is often proud and self-reliant, or one that is disguising its lack of spiritual fervour through the act of ‘doing good deeds’. Doing good deeds can make us feel good about ourselves, however we must always serve God from of a grateful and responsive heart considering what He has sacrificed and given us. We must ask ourselves why we are serving God and what is driving us. Is it our self-esteem or self-assurance, or is it our eagerness to thank God for all He has done for us in Christ?
God and our family must come first
Recently I have chosen to step back from my commitments in leadership at church, because I have felt it has taken my primary focus away from my family. Before we even look at investing energy in the church, we must first pour it into our own time with God and our family. If we can’t look after our own family, what makes us think we can help look after the church (1 Timothy 3:4). My wife and I have just been blessed with our second child – my daughter Sienna. With our very active two and half-year old son, Caleb, running around, I realised that I needed to spend more time at home supporting my wife and family. She does such an amazing job, that it’s easy to abuse that and not watch over and lead my family. It’s easy to get caught up in things I am passionate about at church, when my focus needs to first be at home. Since making that choice I have felt deeply blessed by God and the impact on my family is clear in a many ways. As much as I love serving at church, I have realised it doesn’t come close to the blessing and privilege of serving my family.
How can we be more effective instruments for God to use?
In order for us to be effective vessels or instruments for God to use, we need to do two things:
1) Prioritise our time and energy to what matters most – God, family, church. We need to make sure we allow God to strengthen us so that we are best ready to serve and invest in others. That includes allowing God to stretch and mature us through developing our relationship with Him and those around us whilst also taking time to relax and ‘recharge our batteries’; to enjoy the hobbies that God has equipped us to enjoy. A balanced life is critical to being an effective vessel for God to use. As important as studying God’s Word and doing work for Him is, having time out to enjoy what God has given us in relationships, passions and interests, is also important. Otherwise, I can guarantee you that your ministry and work for God is not as effective. We are not designed to go, go, go!
2) Search our hearts and make sure that what we do, we do with the correct motives. It’s easy to fool others, and even ourselves, into thinking we are godly through “performing good works”. However God is more interested in why we do things than what we are doing. He wants to see a heart that serves Him and others out of gratitude for what He has given us. He wants to see a heart that desires to honour and cherish Him when we feed our passions and interests. God wants to see a heart that puts the focus on Him and not ourselves; to primarily see people come to faith in Christ and mature in their faith and not push our political agendas. The attitude and desire behind our actions is critical to being an effective and fruitful worker for God.
To serve and enjoy God in all areas of our lives is an absolute privilege and blessing. With it comes great responsibility in how we honour God and represent Christ to others.
Let us all be brutally honest with ourselves and put in place proper measures to make sure we are serving God from a spiritually healthy place and not from a place of deception and lies. God know’s our heart. He sees everything. Let’s humble ourselves before God and allow His grace to heal and strengthen us.
God’s work in seeing people come to Christ is just too important for us to make our work all about ourselves.
Nice one, Stu. Thanks for your honesty, and also for laying out what is most important – being in right relationship with our Lord. I agree that we’re not designed to go go go! My wife and I have instituted a sabbath in our week (on Sunday), which assists us to rest, spend time with our Lord, with each other and family. The day is ‘set apart’, too – it’s a day of celebrating Christ’s resurrection. So, with all of those factors (worship, fellowship, rest, family) it symbolically, and actually, helps us align our lives to the priorities you have outlined above. It also forces us to step back from things like work, homework, extra housework and so on. Even when we really really feel the need to finish that essay, or iron our work clothes, we leave it behind and enjoy the other blessings God has for us on that day. This also helps us re-align our priorities and see what matters most.
We have experienced God’s blessing since we have made this a part of our routine. I would recommend it!
Thanks for your thoughts Simon. My wife and I are also trying to set time aside to have quality time together and spend with God. It’s sounds so basic… yet how difficult it can be to put in practice. It’s absurd really! I like how you and your wife have set Sunday apart.