"Ready For Every Good Work" 2 Timothy 2:21
This fall we tore out the carpet of our Living room. Not only was it worn, but we had never used a rental cleaning machine on it during the last 2 yrs that we have lived here. All the 100+ times we vacuumed over the warm brown fuzz were not enough. I knew that this was not the best living condition for us, or any of our grandchildren to be playing on. We knew that down under the surface there was some things that not even a steam cleaning would take out. Under the carpet was a foam pad. Under the pad was a few layers of dirt. After we set all the furniture out in the front yard and rolled up the first 2 layers and swept all the dirt up, a once beautiful linoleum was revealed. We took up 3 layers of different patterns of this vinyl flooring with 1950's newspapers being the final barrier above the worn, torn, and diesel stained red fir floor. For 20 some years the original owners probably lived on the medium to poor quality, untreated wood floor with hopes of having a "new look some day." Layer after layer were installed to keep the "new look". Now we were going back to the "rustic look" and it took hours and hours of sanding to get this floor ready for normal use. Gideon did most of the work. I researched the products, rented the tools and helped with the corners and the edges. It was worth all the cleaning and elbow grease we put into an area of our house that is ready for good use.
Paul used a similar analogy of the floor removal that I just described. He described the various vessels that a great house would have in it. Some of clay, some of wood. Others of gold or silver. Some of these need to be need to cleansed out, if we are going to be useful to our Master, Jesus.
2Timothy 2:21 ESV says, "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."
As a follower of Jesus I have a choice to cleanse out of my life the sins and iniquities that he has called me to depart from. If I want to be useful to him, and ready for every good work this is a necessary exercise. Confession is a good start. Daily choices, and habit changes have to happen or change is not really change. Change of mind that brings about a change of action is what it means to repent.
"We sow our thoughts and reap our actions. We sow our actions and reap our habits. We sow our habits and reap our character. We sow our character, and we reap our destiny."
As a follower of Jesus, I have a responsibility to not take our Gods name in vain. To me this means that if I am going to call myself a Christian, and profess to know God, I am commanded not to deny him in my conduct. I always used to think of this command relating to swearing curse words that included one of Gods' names. The application that I just shared with you may be obscure, but a true moral principle. Don't do any thing in Jesus name that does not honor and glorify him. Don't let it be for nothing. Don't run the race 3/4 of the way and quit. These are the some of the things that I am hearing. "Pursue peace with all men" but also holiness or I won't see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
How do we find a proper balance for this as we live out our faith? Over a decade ago I marched our whole family out of the middle of a worship service. The church we were visiting was playing the music a little louder than I liked it. What we were accustomed to in our "home birth, home school, home church" environment was hymns and Maranatha scripture songs. I felt not only compromised myself listening to these secular style love songs to Jesus, but I sensed that I needed to lead my family away from its exposure. Another time I was in a service at a church camp where a group of young adults were trying to share a few special songs. The sound equipment kept cutting out. I gave a loud cry, "God doesn't want this rock music in his house!" Then I stormed out. While attending a similar outdoor meeting with the same church group, a singer who is now a nationally known music artist, came with a visiting youth group. The artist who was at that time barely a teenager, stood up to share his talent in the rough. His special was a hip-hop style played with a custom made stringed instrument. The lyrics were rhyming rap lines. That time I did not round up all my young adult children from their various seats in the crowd. Right in the middle of song, I marched out, and left the service. I did not give ear to the lyrics, because of the music style, and the location of the situation. If it would have been on the street or in a home I would have had more tolerance for the music talent trying to be shared. I would have had more patience to hear out the faith of this young man. My preconception of "how it should be" in an organized church service, or what kind of worship our Father desires was very narrow.
Over the centuries the church as whole has seen a lot of changes. Eventually I experienced enough change in myself that my judgments and reactions have changed in relation to the way things are done or the way that other people are. Especially when it comes to worship.
I've changed. For those who know me now, its obvious when one hears what music I play myself or what you would find us listening to in our house. What happened? When did this change occur or where did it start? I have to ask myself that question as I write this article. I am sorry to leaving you hanging, but I am going to leave off writing this and call this part "A" and follow up this with a sequel. The answers to questions above will be explained in detail and testimony the next time I get share another "Soul Food" article.
The bottom line answer needs to shared now, in case I don't live to type in all the that I have scratched on my notes for this subject. What happened was I faced the fact that I failed miserably to win the hearts of my young adult children. I may have been winning some battles, but I was definitely loosing the war. The enemy was my own flesh, not a style of music. The tempter had trapped me into condemning myself in the way that i was judging. The vessel that I was being, did not point them to Christ, or attract these precious ones that I love the most to be connected with his love. It might have been my private faith, obedience, or heart felt love for God at the time. But it did not bear good fruit in the end. God declares that he can work it all together for good, and I believe that there are ways that he is redeeming what I have ruined in my own life.
The few "righteous" acts that I testified about above...along with a dozen other incidents that occurred in Mexico, Southern Oregon, and a few other places in between; may have been some good conservative food ( see John 4:34 ) but it was served on wood, hay, and stubble platters ( 2 Timothy 2:20 and 1 Cor 3:12-14 ) My heart attitudes of pride, criticism, and desire for selfish comforts of being surrounded by others who were just as like minded as myself were the dis honorable vessels that Paul wrote about.
The good work that I missed out on doing, was the call to be an intercessor for those I was among or in difference of opinion with.
May our Lord Jesus, by the Spirits power, cleanse us and help us to do our part in cleaning out of our own house any thing that dis-honors our Master. We have a great hope. As His property you have a great and noble destiny.
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10 ESV
There is a bright future of good works to be fulfilled in and through us, despite any past or present circumstances, true? My vision is fixed on the finish line ahead of me. I see 10- 20 years of life ahead. Each day the faithfulness in the small things will matter. Each day, until final day, there will be a work or two that I need to be ready for. Peace to all who read this. Blessings to you, in Jesus our Savior and Lord. G.W.